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As autumn approaches September is the ideal time to prepare your garden for the cold winter months ahead and think about feeding birds over autumn and winter. .

Watering Can

Many summer migrant visiting birds will begin their long journey back home this month. Swifts and swallows will be the first to leave and you may see them in large numbers on telegraph wires or swooping in the sky as they gather for departure. Blackcaps, warblers and pied flycatchers and house martins will also leave later in September.

Native adult birds will be more evident as they come out of hiding after the summer moult. Birdsong should be back to its usual volume and variety and you should see young birds out exploring their new environment.

As the nights become cooler towards the end of the month resident birds will become quieter and will no longer fight over territories, returning to warm roosts each evening.

Algae may have built up in bird baths during the summer so clean them out this month and keep topped up with fresh water. The sun can still be very fierce around midday in September.

Replenish bird feeders but remember as the breeding season is not yet over to avoid putting out whole peanuts and other large chunks of food which baby birds may choke on. Instead put out special soft seed mixes, grated cheese, oatmeal, soft fruits and fat balls. Do not discard windfalls from your fruit trees; cut some up and place them on your bird table and leave others where they have fallen for ground feeding birds.

When deadheading plants such as sunflowers, teasels and thistles leave some seedheads; this will provide food and shelter for birds.

Give your lawn a final cut before winter and if you can leave a patch of long grass; again this will provide food and shelter.

Prune hedges and shrubs and use the branches and twigs to make mini log piles which will be a haven for insects that birds will be able to forage for.

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