I frequently hear people saying that they’ve stopped feeding the birds now that Spring is here. Why? Because, they say, there is plenty of food around. Well, it’s actually very important to feed wild birds all year round. During the changes in seasons, their needs also change, and if you have started feeding them during the winter months, your garden will become part of their flyby routine when searching for food. If you have stopped feeding the birds, they will still visit your garden in the hope of a quick munch therefore wasting precious energy if the bird feeders are empty.
Here is my one stop guide to feeding the birds all year round and tips on the best foods for different birds.
Cold weather and lack of natural food are hungry days for our feathered friends. Feed high energy foods such as sunflower hearts, peanuts, fat balls or suet pellets. Tits, finches, sparrows, nuthatches, woodpeckers will love these foods. A good quality mixed bird seed is also in order. For ground feeders such as blackbirds, robins & thrushes fruit such as apples, pears plums will be gladly received as well as sultanas. These can be put on the ground or on the bird table.
The busiest time of year for birds. Firstly, they will be super busy building nests. Gathering nesting material such as leaves, twigs & moss preparing for the arrival of the chicks. They will be really grateful for the grab ‘n’ go snacks provided in your garden otherwise they would need to save some energy for searching for their own food and the nest building would take twice as long.
Next they will be brooding. Most bird parents take it in turns to sit on the eggs while the other goes in search of food. Your feeders are a welcome stop over and will help give them some extra energy to spend time on housekeeping and repairs to the nest to ensure it is snug and clean for the arrival of their babies.
Finally, the chicks will hatch (approx 3 weeks after laying) and unsurprisingly, they will be STARVING! Both parents will be frantically fetching live food for the chicks such as worms, caterpillars, spiders & moths. Importantly, they will grab quick takeaways from your bird feeders or tables so they don’t have to think about finding their own food. Word will quickly get round and your garden will become bird bistro heaven. Avoid feeding peanuts during spring as less experienced parents may try stuffing whole nuts to their young which will suffocate them. Instead try sunflower hearts, seeds and mealworms.
The chicks will have flown the nest and Mum and Dad will be exhausted. In summer you may notice birds looking quite scruffy. This is due to the ‘moult’. Old feathers will be shed and new feathers grow in time for autumn. There will be more natural food around but birds will always enjoy visiting you for tasty snacks. Try putting out oil rich sunflowers which will help regrowth of their feathers.
As nature goes full circle, the birds prepare for winter by eating as much as they can to fatten up in case they need reserves during the leaner winter months. Suet pellets, peanuts, sunflower hearts and nyjer seeds for finches are all good high energy foods. Also birds can be our natural recyclers. Throw out bacon rind, old cheese (grated) uneaten tinned dog or cat food, meat scraps. The birds will peck them up with gusto and your bin will smell much sweeter!
For more tips on when to feed wild birds or to purchase bird food in bulk, please visit us at Quadrant Pets or visit the online store.