Plants are essential to the survival of many bird species throughout the year and especially so during the cold winter months. There are two key benefits that plants offer, that is cover and food. Getting through the long cold winter nights is a challenge for garden birds and although some fly to warmer climes there are still many birds who stay in the UK.
Plants that offer dense evergreen foliage such as holly and ivy provide safe cover from predators and the elements and so rather than removing ivy from dead trees in the garden it would be better to leave it in place until summer.
There are a number of wildlife friendly plants that are attractive to have in any garden and provide food for birds and small mammals. Pyracantha and berberis have brightly coloured berries which offer a tasty treat to birds and ivy berries are also a favourite. Simply leaving the seed heads on plants through the winter months can also provide a nutritious snack for wildlife.
Insects often bury themselves into the soil during winter so by breaking up the hardened soil and turning it over birds can get to the insects and feed on the worms and insects that emerge.