Winter chores consist of feeding the birds well | gardening tips

AAt first light, the first peak appears. And then the female pheasant. With or without his big comic buddy. Feeding under the feeders. I always overfill and scatter nuts and seeds for ground feeding birds. Mash up a few extra fat balls to be sure.

They form a couple, the peaks, the exhilarating glow of scarlet, of the black and white wing. Hangs comfortably from feeders at any angle. Furious beaks beating the seed. Happy to share with smaller birds but not each other at the same time.

There are almost all types of tits here in the Danish forest, several finches, sparrows, brambles, nuthatches… all coexisting happily on the forage. The only tyrants are the blackbirds. Even jays generally seem well behaved.

Some of the smaller birds prefer to hide in the lower forsythia, raiding together. Sometimes finding solace in numbers. Other times happy to invade quieter feeders.

Peeling sheets of bark hang from the host Himalayan birch, like handkerchiefs passed out in the days before handkerchiefs.

I work by the windows down to the floor, binoculars and bird books nearby, before the kind neighbor brings his chainsaw to help clean up some of the ragged bird strewn cherries, too big and prevalent now in the calm and more shaded place. We reserve the trunks for firewood and take the lean branches to the local slow compost bins. Lilac will be happier with more light.

We trim the hornbeam hedge. Woodpeckers come around ten times a day to stock up. Only one morning reaches 0C. We fill the feeders and divide the bags with seeds and nuts and spread them generously when we are away. Spare food and grease are thin on the ground.

The overwintering Pine Swallow had nested in a new bag in the cupboard when we arrived. Well wedged in a ball of insulating fiber and sunflower seeds. He will be more active when we leave. He lives here more than us.

Allan Jenkins’ Plot 29 (4th Estate, £9.99) is out now. Order it for £8.49 at

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Terri S. Tomasini