Look after the birds in your garden

In a regular series, Alasdair Urquhart, from Haskins Garden Centre in Ferndown, will provide expert gardening advice and simple steps to gardening success. Alasdair is Haskins’ in-house plant expert.

It’s important to look after our feathered friends, particularly during these colder winter months. Birds forage for food in the winter as they need high fat foods to provide energy and survive the colder nights. With this in mind, I want to show you all there is a fun and rewarding activity which all the family can join in with – creating homemade bird cakes to help attract birds to your garden. This simple recipe takes just 20 minutes to complete.

What you’ll need

  • Bowl
  • Saucepan
  • Spoon
  • String or twine
  • Grease-proof paper
  • Cake shapes or cookie cutters

Ingredients required

  • Lard or suet
  • Wild bird seed, peanuts, bread and cake crumbs, oats, currants, sultanas or grated cheese


  • Mix the dry ingredients together in a bowl, using a ratio of one part fat to two parts dry mixture.
  • Melt some lard or suet in a saucepan and add to the dry mix. Stir to ensure all the fat is absorbed and the mixture sticks.
  • Place a sheet of grease-proof paper onto a tray and spoon a half layer of the warm fat mixture into the moulds and place a long loop of string on top.
  • Fill the remaining mould to sandwich the string.
  • Leave to set in the fridge overnight.
  • Push the shapes from the moulds.
  • Hang the cakes in a tree or shrub and wait for the birds to arrive.

Just a little food and shelter can turn your garden into a vital sanctuary for birds. Garden birds are prone to infection during the winter, so keeping their energy levels topped up is important. We also have a range of bird houses, tables, feeders and wild bird food available to purchase now.

We’re currently in the middle of National Nest Box Week, a campaign which runs annually from 14th-21st February and aims to encourage people to put up nest boxes to help breeding birds. After more than 19 years, this is now an established part of the ornithological calendar and helps to promote and enhance biodiversity and conservation. Make sure you join in with the conversation on Twitter and share photos of your nest box with #NNBW.


Alasdair Urquhart is Haskins’ in-house plant expert. You can tweet him @HaskinsGarden with any questions or visit www.haskins.co.uk. Haskins has a centre in Ferndown, Dorset and also in West End, Southampton.

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