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If you have problems with cats, electronic deterrents should repel them from bird feeding areas. Place feeders away from low cover that could conceal a cat — they are sit-and-wait predators and rely on cover to sneak up on their prey. Check your nestboxes each winter.

Alerts In Effect

Choose a diversity of nestbox types and move those that prove unsuccessful. Do not use too many of one type of nest box, especially tit boxes: multiple options confuse them. Remove mouldy seed from feeders and sterilise them regularly to reduce the risk of spreading diseases. Ideally the feeder should be about 2m away from cover, to create a safer feeding station. Nearby vegetation can provide a lookout point for the birds and a place to dash to if disturbed.

Keep your feeder away from fences, overhanging branches and low-lying bushes that a cat can hide in. Ensure the post supporting your feeder is smooth and straight as this will make it much more difficult for cats and squirrels to climb. Adding a sloped baffle to your feeder will keep squirrels off-balance. The tray should be no more than 10cm off the ground to preserve the grass or scatter food on the lawn to attract ground-feeders such as thrushes, blackbirds, chaffinches and sparrows. By providing a variety of food-sources, positioning your feeders carefully and encouraging nesting, you will attract a wide range of common birds to your garden all year round, as well as a few surprises.

Dunnocks are one of the less conspicuous garden birds, preferring dense cover both for feeding and nesting, though they are more visible when mating in spring.

A Place for Birds

Jays scatter-hoard acorns, hazelnuts and peanuts in gardens, burying them in flowerbeds and lawns. They prefer areas with mature trees, especially oaks. Green woodpeckers are rare visitors to gardens, but they will feed on fallen apples and berries and take seeds and nuts, especially when the ground is frozen. Fieldfares will visit your garden to feed on autumn and winter berries.

If you have any apple trees, leave some windfalls for them, or buy and put out low-quality apples. Siskins are common garden visitors, especially if it has been a bad year for seeds, and enjoy sunflower seeds and peanuts. Redpolls will sometimes join their flocks. Wood pigeons are increasingly common in gardens, where they forage under bird tables and on lawns for shoots and seeds.

They breed from April until autumn. Sparrowhawks often target feeders in gardens, especially when they are rearing young, so make sure yours are positioned so that birds can see predators coming. House martin numbers have declined by nearly 40 per cent since , most probably due to the lack of nest sites, so put up artificial nest boxes to attract passing birds. How to attract birds to your garden Birds will visit your garden if there's plenty of food available, so the first thing to do is get up some feeders.

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A garden robin in the snow. Nuthatch and Blue Tit on a full peanut feeder. Goldfinches eating niger seeds from a garden feeder. Many garden birds will use bird baths and ponds to bathe.

Rowan berries are a valuable source of food for winter visitors like the fieldfare. Grey squirrel on peanut feeder. Chaffinches are much more likely to come to food left out near the ground. Eurasian jay. Green woodpecker. Fieldfare feeding on rowan berries in Scotland.

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A siskin on a bird feeder. Common wood pigeon on garden grass. Male sparrowhawk on a mossy log. Take your travel expert with you - download World Travel Guide.

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