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The Winter solstice was on the 21st of December, Christmas has passed but the Winter season has just commenced and will be here until the 20th of March although the early Spring can often have a Winter feel.

I recently saw a Pied Wagtail rushing around at the top of Wotton high street as I have often at this time of the year and, as I am writing, I see one trotting about near the bird table looking for food.

An RSPB study finds that around 600 million of birds were lost in the last 40 years. The birds ‘s decline in the UK is frightening among which some of the most common birds, the Cuckoo, Sky lark, House martin, Nightingale, House and Tree sparrows, Starling, Turtle dove, Little owl, Lapwing to name but a few and most recently cited, the Green Finch, the Rook and the Swift.

Yes, there are some good news; the Red Kite in the green list and the beautifully delicate Avocet on the amber list creeping up the green list.

What has caused the decline?

Climate change, certainly, loss of habitat, deforestation, and modernisation of properties which, for the latter, I believe, architects should seriously consider, farming methods, change in the land use like change of the crops grown, affecting the ground nesting birds, increased use of stronger pesticides, hunting and trapping, pollution of streams and rivers affecting the Kingfisher.

What kills the birds in Winter?

The biggest killers are the cold and starvation. The birds adapt to the cold by fluffing out their feathers to trap warm air and tucking their heads in the feathers, which generates body heat.

If you have nest boxes in your garden, birds will use them in flocks to keep warm. Wrens are the champions of Winter socialising and their record number in one box is 61!!

Starvation is the greatest killer; in very cold Winters, birds can survive without eating for a couple of days only, so we must help them.

What to feed them?
Common seeds, black sunflower seeds, sunflower hearts seeds, nyjer seeds, fat balls (suet), mealworm, peanuts, raisins will help them to survive, NOT FORGETTING WATER, which should be checked regularly as it freezes very quickly.

This food applies to the Spring, too, when the birds are breeding but peanuts must be crushed to avoid choking the brood.

Antonio Guterres, the UNs environment chief recently said that ‘we are at war with Nature and ‘we must make peace because ‘Nature is what sustains everything on Earth

Also, remember the quote attributed to many but which was probably first said by the Native American Chief Seattle: ‘We do not inherit the Earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children