We get asked a lot by our customers “When should I feed my garden birds?” or “What time is the best to feed my garden birds?”. The answer to both questions really is all the time. You might think that they only need food during the Winter months, but this is outdated information, they actually need food all year.
It used to be common practice to only feed garden birds during the coldest months, food is short and birds use a lot more body heat just trying to stay alive. Did you know that Blue Tits can lose up to 30% of their own body heat overnight in the winter? Although birds benefit from the extra food the most in the winter, they still need food the rest of the time.
It is now understood that actually food shortages occur at anytime and in actual fact due to things like climate change there just isn’t enough natural food for your wild birds at any time of the year. By keeping your bird feeders topped up throughout the year you will actually help the birds more and when there are big shortages they know they can rely on your support.
Why should I feed my garden birds?
Nature needs you. Your garden birds need you. There is so much life around you in your garden and it needs your support. You can really have an impact on nature by helping the wild birds in your area. We have created this problem with large scale removal of woodlands, forests, hedging and creating huge baron areas where nature can no longer find it’s own natural food supplies.
Food is becoming more and more scarce in the areas that we live, so by welcoming garden birds onto our feeders we are really making a difference.
During the breeding season parent birds spend a colossal amount of time finding food for their young chicks adding food for the extra beaks makes a huge difference to whether those chicks survive.
During the cold seasons when the ice and cold makes naturally occurring foods scarcer still, your role is even more important.
Garden birds really do need us and as we’ve moved in to their natural environments and taken away their food supplies it is only right that we support them. If we don’t they may be lost forever, even now birds that were taken for granted 10–15 years ago are in major decline, birds like Sparrows for instance.
Sally our founder has spent many years looking at what birds eat and don’t eat and what they need at certain times of the year. “I have seen over the years a change in the way birds eat, they are much more comfortable with bird tables and they need a lot more of the food we put out. If I look back 20 years birds had a much more abundant range in nature, they don’t now so it is important that we feed them. I’ve been observing the different seasons and have found that they will eat different things at different times”.
Spring & Summer
Unfortunately the natural food sources for insect eating birds aren’t around so much anymore, we have shortages of the creepy crawlies and so it is harder for the birds to eat. Caterpillars for instance are in decline — a huge favourite among Blue Tits — and it is these small changes that mean our food really helps!
During the spring months, birds require lots of food for themselves and their new fledglings. During the summer months, birds require high protein foods, especially while they are moulting.
Great high-energy foods include:
- Nest & Fledge Mixes — we have one packed with energy, protein & fat that is small sized and won’t cause choking. This food include high-quality suet, pinhead oatmeal & sunflower hearts.
- Soaked fruits like Sultanas, raisins and currants — make sure you are soaking them to prevent small birds choking or get them in a mix like the Robin & Friends mix.
- In summer adding soft fruits can help — cutting up apples, pears, grapes and bananas can help your birds get their natural sugars. Make sure to throw any manky bits away after a day or so though because it is hotter and may cause bacterial growth.
- Adding Suet to the garden is a winner — this has lots of high-energy fats, won’t cause choking to small birds and if you choose an insect suet it will also have added proteins.
- Avoid using peanuts, fat and bread at this time, since these can be harmful if adult birds feed them to their nestlings. If you want to put out peanuts add them to an appropriate feeder so that whole peanuts cannot be taken back to the nests.
- You can also use things from your own kitchen, adding mile grated cheese to the bird table can help keep energy resources up or making fat cakeswill be a big help — just make sure you are keeping feeders free from rotting foods in the summer months, hygiene is super important throughout the year!
Autumn and Winter can be some of the harshest months for birds, the weather can be unpredictable, ground can be frozen and there isn’t a lot of natural food around. At this time of year birds needs lots of fat, lots of protein & lots of food!
Natural foods are very scarce, meaning smaller birds such as finches visit in even greater numbers, while you may even see winter thrushes from time to time too. All of them visiting your garden to get the food they so desperately need.
Mornings and late afternoons are the most important parts of the day, so have a nice selection of nuts, seeds and fat in order to help them recover and prepare for the long cold nights.
Natural foods are very scarce, meaning smaller birds such as finches visit in even greater numbers, while you may even see winter thrushes from time to time too. All of them visiting your garden to get the food they so desperately need. Mornings and late afternoons are the most important parts of the day, so have a nice selection of nuts, seeds and fat in order to help them recover and prepare for the long cold nights.