Monday, 14 November 2011

Tips On Feeding Birds In Winter

You don't have to wear binoculars or an anorak and a dodgy hat to appreciate the beauty of birds. A simple bird feeder in your garden will attract many different breeds like the Robin, Greenfinch, Blue Tit, Chaffinches and many more. You will have continual visits from your winged friends if you can provide them with the right bird food for winter.

Water is another necessity for birds that people tend to forget in winter. With the cold weather we all assume water will be readily available but cold winters can mean dry winters and water of course freezes. So make sure there's a fresh, ice free, bowl of water in the garden every day for them to drink from and bathe in. Never feed them milk as they can't digest it. However cheese (grated if possible) is perfectly fine for birds and may attract new varieties of wildlife to your garden.

Selecting the right bird table is your first job. Not all birds will use the perches on the stand, some will prefer to peck at fallen seeds or feed from individual hanging feeders. The more attention you pay to your visitors the more you will find out their habits and favourite feeding areas. If you do buy a bird stand then I would suggest a sturdy one that isn't going to wobble. Birds tend to fly off at the first sign of an unstable stand. Place your table away from fences and walls, birds won't thank you if a feline intruder pounces whilst they're eating. Their survival instincts will alert them to any danger of movement and they will be put off returning.

Next is the food. As insects aren't available to birds in the winter, seeds become their staple diet. There are a lot of mixed bird seeds on the market which are bulked up. I tend to avoid anything with unnatural coloured lumps in them as they're usually dog biscuits which can't be eaten unless softened by soaking. A good mixture should contain millet, sunflower seeds and flaked maize. I also like to feed the obvious choice of peanuts as they are high in fats but don't feed them salted peanuts, it could kill them. As small birds can choke on whole peanuts, I usually crush them before putting them out.

Black sunflower seeds are fantastic all year long as well and they have a higher fat content than the striped sunflower seeds. It's advisable to put the richer seeds like Nyger and sunflower in feeders as they will be more expensive and you will lose a lot to the weather and other animals if you just scatter them on the ground. The Nyger seed contains more oil than your average seed and is high in calories, so perfect for winter feeding. As they aren't a cheap variety of seed you can always mix them in with others. You should find the number of Goldfinches in your garden increases with Nyger seeds.

Wet dog and cat food is a good substitute for earthworms in the cold weather and kitchen scraps can be used as they contain fats and carbohydrates that won't be found in bird seeds. However don't feed them cooking fat that has hardened from your Sunday roast as it will contain bacteria and salt that is unsuitable for birds. Instead use lard or beef suet. It's strongly advised from the RSPB not to leave the suet fat balls in nylon meshes as birds can get themselves caught. Instead put them in hanging feeders and keep them off the ground as you may attract unwanted mammals.

No comments:

Post a Comment