During the winter months, having bird feeders in your garden is a rewarding way to enjoy bird watching when the weather outside draws colder. The best feed to offer your birds this time of year should contain a high fat or oil content which will provide your birds with abundant energy for winter survival.
If you offer a wide choice of winter bird feed you will find that a greater variety of birds visit your feeders, even on the coldest days! For example, seeds are a big hit with Finches, varieties of the Tit family enjoy suet/fat balls, and both Thrushes and Robins will gobble up fruit and meal worms. As for Starlings, well, they'll eat just about anything! These top feeds are are excellent choices for many common, winter birds.
Along with choosing high calorie feed, another tip is to sprinkle crumbled fat balls and seed beneath shrubs for secretive and ground feeding birds. Do be aware that this could attract unwanted mice and rodents looking for their dinner too!
However, there are some foods that you should be aware of when it comes to the birds in your garden. Avoid feeding birds salty items, such as salted peanuts, crisps and bacon, along with any dry food that may swell after it has been ingested. Also, desiccated coconut can be fatal to birds if it is not well soaked, so generally is best to avoid all together.
Furthermore, anything that could choke a bird shouldn't be given to them; for example whole peanuts, lumps of hard fat or dried bread. Be aware that sometimes peanuts and fat balls are sold in nylon mesh bags, so please make sure that the mesh bag is removed before putting it out for your feathered friends to eat so that no legs or beaks can get caught up!
While feeding birds in your garden can help to see them through the winter, it does also have it's negatives. Using feeders encourages large numbers of birds to share the same area, which puts them at a higher risk of passing disease to each other. For example, Trichomonosis is a nasty bug that can be fatal to Pigeons and Finches if they contract the disease. The disease is passed from bird to bird through saliva. Sick birds have a difficulty feeding and will regurgitate food, contaminating feeding stations and spreading the contagion.
You can help birds avoid spreading the disease between each other by scrubbing bird feeders regularly with hot soapy water and give them a good rinse. Sweep away any accumulations of droppings or spilled seeds, and keep your feeders free of wet or mouldy food to avoid contamination.
We all love to watch these glorious birds in our garden, so why not visit our Home and Garden collections and buy some of our Feeders, Nesting Boxes and Feed for our feathered friends to give them a helping 'wing' this winter!