Conservationists have urged Westcountry wildlife lovers to fully stock their feeders to help birds through the winter.
With temperatures dipping below zero at night and in single figures during the day, the RSPB has urged people to provide high energy foods and water to aid resident populations.
Tony Whitehead, from the RSPB in the South West, said: “The drop in temperatures across the UK will have been a big shock to birds’ systems after spending the past couple of months with few worries in terms of food availability.
“Up to now natural food sources have been readily available and water has been easy to come by. Now, as temperatures are falling birds will need all the help they can get to survive the winter.”
The RSPB suggests calorie-rich foods like mixed seed, nyjer corrseed, fatballs, suet sprinkles, sunflower seed and good quality peanuts, as well as kitchen scraps, like mild grated cheese, rice and porridge oats.
A supply of water is also essential for bathing and preening. In freezing conditions birds become more dependent on water provided in gardens, since many natural sources are frozen over.
The most effective way to keep water from freezing is buy using a light ball which, moved by even a gentle breeze, will keep a small amount of water, ice free.
Alternatively, Mr Whitehead said, people could pour on warm water to melt the ice.
Mr Whitehead added: “With the RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch coming up after Christmas, keeping your feeders, tables and bird baths topped-up will not only make sure your garden visitors are well fed and looked after, it’ll also encourage them into your garden just in time for you to take part in the world’s biggest wildlife survey.”
The RSPB’s annual Big Garden Birdwatch is being held on January 25-26, giving people across the UK the chance to be part of the world’s biggest wildlife survey.
People are asked to spend just one hour at any time over Big Garden Birdwatch weekend noting the highest number of each bird species seen in their gardens or local park at any one time.
They then have three weeks to submit their results to the RSPB, either online at www.rspb.org.uk/birdwatch or in the post.