At this time of the year birds benefit from the food that many of us leave out for them in our gardens. If you're new to feeding the birds it's likely that a few hints as tips as to the type of food to leave out how and when to do so would be useful. 

Although it is obviously in winter when birds benefit most from the food it is actually important to leave food out all year as at different times different birds have varying needs. You can also try to attract particular types of birds by leaving out different food. For instance, robins like mealworms, whilst tits prefer peanuts. It is also the case that robins prefer to take their food off the ground where other birds (like tits) are mainly found on the feeders.

If you want to find out more about the different types of food and the particular birds that they attract then the following sites may be of use.

  • CJ Wildbird Foods provides a very useful chart showing the different foods that common garden birds prefer and the amount of food that each bird type wants broken down by month
  • The RSPB website provides a vast amount of advice on feeding the birds including the use of bird tables as well as feeders. Their site also contains some relevant hygiene advice too.

Remember that in the winter time you should also leave fresh water out in your garden for birds. When it is very cold many water sources may freeze overnight which can mean that birds go without unless someone has helpfully refreshed the water in their garden. You don't need a fancy bird bath – a bowl or dish will be more than sufficient for a thirsty bird on a cold morning.

At their AGM on Saturday 3 October 2009, Kate Humble was elected as the new President of the RSPB. Kate is best known for her role presenting the BBC programmes Autumnwatch and Springwatch, and has also appeared on numerous other BBC programmes since getting her break following a stint as a researcher on Animal Hospital.  

The RSPB is currently Europe's largest wildlife conservation charity and the election of a well known person like Humble is likely to have a very positive effect with her helping to communicate the society's aims and work to a wide audience. Dare I say that her being a photogenic, intelligent woman is also likely to do no harm, especially since she is only the second female President since the society was founded in 1889. 

Despite their name as the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, the society's remit is much larger than just birds. Campaigns run by the society are looking to help all wildlife that can be found around us, not just the feathered variety. There are also some fantastic resources on their website for both adults and children – everything from helping you to identify a bird that you may have seen through to how to attract more wildlife into your back garden.