Wild Birds Feeding Guide
The world has changed rapidly and this has meant a change in the natural habitat for many of our wild bird species. Urbanisation and more intensive landscaping and farming have meant that many bird species have become dependant on gardens as a source of food all year around. Feathered visitors bring joy and educational benefits no matter what time of the year they come. Providing food, water and shelter is a great help to all of our avian visitors. So what do you need to know about these fascinating creatures needs and habits?
What should I feed?
Lots of food types are eaten and enjoyed by wild birds but different species have different favourites and you should also pay attention to the time of year: for example, winter requires food with high energy and fat content. Here is a guide to common foods for wil bird that you can buy in your local equipet
- Peanuts - Peanuts are adored by many types of birds due to their high fat content. Birds love whole, crushed and frated peanuts but make sure that you do never feed salted roasted or any peanut that is not meant for consumption by birds. These peanuts have a high level of natural toxins that can be poisonous to birds. The birds may no notice the difference so its your responsibility to make sure that you feed them correctly.
- Seeds - Wild Bird Seeds are sold in a wide variety of mixes and provide a nutritionally balanced diet for your garden birds. Seeds can be placed in a feeder, a table or scattered along the ground. Niger seeds are loved by siskins and goldfinchs. These small, black seeds have a high oil content and should be fed using a special feeder that stops them from spilling all over the place and allows birds to get at the seedy goodness. Ask about niger seeds in you local Equipet today! Lots of birds love sunflower seeds. Try to buy pre husked seeds as birds prefer the heart of the seed and will leave discarded husks scattered around your garden for you to clear up!
- Fat/Suet treats - Birds need plenty of fat for that vital energy that keeps them going through harsh weather. These treats are mainly lard based and include nutritious and tasty extra ingredients such as seeds, peanuts and insects. Make sure to remove the mesh bag as this can injure birds.
- Others - Kitchen scraps , mild cheese and potatoes are also tasty healthy treats for your garden friends! If you are feeding bread make sure that it is moistened.
- Water - Most birds will need to drink water at least twice a day. Birds will also need to bathe to make sure that their feathers are in good condition. It is particularly important for you to leave a supply of fresh water out for birds in the summer when it is hot and winter when natural water freezes up.
When should I feed garden birds?
Your visitors will vary according to season. This means that you should try to let feed out for your birds all year around. With changing natural habitats birds have become dependent on these sources of food and may not have another readily available natural source nearby.
Seasonal Feeding Calender
- Spring - Spring is very important for birds as they are rearing their young and need a steady supply of nutritious food to keep them and their chicks going. Fledglings need plenty of energy to build up their strength so that they can fly the nest. You can fill your feeding stands with mealworms which are loved by birds at this time as spdiers as insects can be hard to find. Don’t forget to put out seeds and peanuts as well making sure that you use peanut granulkes rather than whole peanuts which can be difficult for fledlings to swallow.
- Summer - Fledlings are getting ready to fly and are still dependant on their parents to give them a supply of mealworms in early summer. Help those busy adults with a source of nigh enrgy seed, especially when the weather is very dry.
- Autumn - There is not as much natural food available in autumn. You should see a big return of native birds to your garden following the late summer lull. These birds will be relying on you for food so be ready for them. Tits and finches love peanut and seed feeders. Sprinke the ground with seed for ground feeders such as collared doves and chaffinches. Migrating birds will be getting ready for the long raod ahead. Provide a bird bath for them to preen themselves as healthy plumage is essential for these long distance travellers.
- Winter - It can be hard for birds to get through winter so they need all of your help during this harsh season. Maintain a regular feeding pattern and leave out hanging seed and peanuts feeders. Leave suet or fat balls out as they give your birds the extra body weight that they need to get through these cold and difficult months.
Bird Tables, Bird Feeders and Other Accessories
Where Should I Put My Bird Table?
Place your bird table carefully to make sure that you get visitors throughout the year. Place it in a sheltered, quiet area of the garden at least a metre away from any trees or shrubbery- this will keep your birds safe from cats and other predators.
Hanging Bird Feeders
- Peanut Feeders - Peanut feeders have a wide mesh to ensure that your birds can get the peanuts without allowing them to remove whole nuts which can be a cause of choking.
- Seed feeders - Seed feeders have a transparent plastic tubing that is dotted with holes that allow birds to get at seeds without the food falling out.
- Niger Seed Feeders - Niger Seed Feeders have very small holes to stop these tiny seeds from spilling out.
Clean feeders and tables regularly as disease can spread from a dirty bird table. Remove old food from the table and in mild, wet weather do not leave peanuts out for more than a week. Make sure to clean out your bird bath once a day.