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Berry-eating birds will need more help this year

I just thought I'd mention that due to the very poor crops of some berries that we're seeing this autumn in our gardens (pyracantha is one that's been mentioned on this board) the garden blackbirds and thrushes that have come to rely on our shrubberies for winter food will need a bit more help to see them through the winter.

While so many of us provide food for the seed eaters (sunflower,peanuts, nyger etc) some of us forget the blackbirds and thrushes which do not visit the hanging containers - fruit (raisins etc) scattered on the lawn regularly in the morning will bring blackbirds into your garden and keep them alive through the cold winter months.

One very cold day last winter we had over 20 blackbirds in our garden at one time, feeding on over-ripe chopped apples and raisins.  So when the supermarkets put their cake fruit on special offer ready for the Christmas Pud season, it's a good idea to buy a few bags and put them aside for later when we get a really cold snap and the blackbirds and thrushes are searching for food.image

“I am not lost, for I know where I am. But however, where I am may be lost.” Winnie the Pooh



  • In most years, in my garden, there are also a lot of fallen apples which normally last a long way into the Winter. There won't be many of those this year either. I believe that some non-resident birds also like to make use of the fallen apple crop.

  • Yes, very good point - the fieldfares and the redwings (also members of the thrush family) come over here from Scandinavia and the Baltics, especially if there's been poor crops of berries over there - I wonder what sort of weather they had earlier this year?

    “I am not lost, for I know where I am. But however, where I am may be lost.” Winnie the Pooh

  • Jean GenieJean Genie Posts: 1,724

    I was reading about this today in a newspaper article . During the bad winter of 2010 we had many birds visiting our garden including a large flock of waxwings which also come from Scandinavia. It amazed me how undaunted they were by people . We were able to get really close to them and took some fantastic pictures. We bought a cheap cat litter tray and filled it with all sorts of goodies including dried fruit which went down a treat with a couple of mistle thrushes. Beautiful birds but I've never seen them since - just an odd song thrush every now and then.

  • Caz WCaz W Posts: 1,353

    As well as apples and dried fruit our blackbirds always seem to enjoy oats.  I started putting oats out when I heard they would encourage wrens but so far I haven't come across any bird that doesn't eat them.  I get the "value" ones from the supermarket own brand labels.  In the very cold weather I melt some lard and mix it in to give them a bit more ooomph!  Thanks for bringing this to our attention Doveimage


  • You are a star Dove, I have several holly trees and if the wood pigeons are generous enough to leave some of the berries, it is such a pleasure to see the redwings visit en mass! I also store windfall fruit and bring it out in late winter and see some unusual visitors feast on them! I am surrounded by "young " neighbours who think I am odd as I also collect crab apple windfall from the trees along my road! I buy lard to put on the bird table(the squirrels carry off the fat balls but leave them alone!) The idea of oats is great. Thank you.

  • Alina WAlina W Posts: 1,445

    We get through about half a kilo of raisins a day in winter, and have about 20 blackbirds fighting for them. Looks like I might have to put out more this year image

  • I have to say my pyracanthas ,con aster and holly amazingly are laden with berries which the birds enjoy.I still feed the birds with extras as its needed in winter.I use to see great flocks of redwings and fieldfares at my garden years ago but over the last five or so years the numbers have dropped.Also on the common we use to get great flocks of blackhead gulls,starlings pied wagtails but these have nearly vanished.

  • Every fruit has its time when its ripe and ready to eat. Yesterday, there was a small flock of mistle thrushes having a grand feast on our local yew berries.

  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Posts: 82,745

    In the grounds where I work we have several large Sweet Chestnut trees that usually give us a really good crop of glossy fat brown chestnuts that I cook and freeze for Christmas.  This year they're falling before they're ripe, and they're small little wizened things.  I know that you usually get a few that haven't matured and that fall early, but the ground at work has been covered for the past few days.  It looks as if most of them didn't get pollinated image.  This will be disastrous for the birds and squirrels that usually depend on them.  We usually get quite a few local jays collecting the sweet chestnuts, and I heard on the radio that here in Norfolk we're getting large flocks of jays coming across from the Continent already because they've had a poor 'harvest' of nuts and acorns.  I don't think they'll find things much different here image

    “I am not lost, for I know where I am. But however, where I am may be lost.” Winnie the Pooh

  • Where I live in South Yorkshire, the holly, cottoneaster and pyrocantha bushes are absolutely laden with berries (and another hedging plant that I'm not sure what it is).

    I was told when I was younger that the more berries these plants produce, the harsher the winter is going to be - God is providing the food to fatten the birds up before he sends the snow.

    The oats are a very good idea, as is buying the bargain bags of dried fruit.  I have the peanuts and fat balls out already, as we've just started getting ground frosts, I must remember to put out some of the 'value' sultanas out for the blackbirds.  I also put out the cores from the apples my little ones eat, rather than composting them, the birds need them more than I do.

    Dovefromabove, do you just scatter the oats on your lawn, or put them in a pile on your bird table?

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