Feeding garden birds this winter

Feeding garden birds this winter
November 2, 2018 The Garden House
garden birds

Feeding Garden Birds this Winter

As a wintry chill spread across the country this week, it is making life harder for our garden birds.  As temperatures fall, so the birds need to eat as much high energy food as possible to keep warm. During the short winter days and longer darker nights birds have less time to forage, while at the same time natural food becomes scarcer.

Feeding garden birds is easy.  Wild bird seed, peanuts and sunflower seed and suitable feeders that they should be put in, which can then be suspended from tree branches or a bird table, are widely available.  Ensure these feeders are placed in the open where birds can see any potential predators as they approach. Apples, whether cut in half and speared on branches or just left out whole on the lawn, are also a great source of food.

Kitchen scraps, such as bacon rinds, cheese (particularly loved by Robins), suet, raisins, moistened bread, melon seeds, fruit, stale cake, cooked potato, oatmeal, fresh coconut and uncooked pastry, also make welcome meals.  Fat is an especially important source of energy for birds, so please don’t waste it!  You can even melt meat fat and pour it over bread or cake scraps to make “bird cake”!

There are a couple of items which should never be fed to birds. These include desiccated (dried) coconut, uncooked rice or dry bread, which may swell up in the bird’s stomach.

It is equally as important to ensure that your garden birds have a constant supply of fresh drinking water, something that can be very hard for them to find when ponds and puddles are frozen over.  As well as needing to drink it, they also need it for bathing, to ensure that their feathers are kept clean so that they will insulate them effectively against the cold weather.

Please remember that it may take a while for birds to discover your food when you first start putting it out, but once they do they’ll keep coming back, and before long will come to rely on that food source. So once you start feeding the birds, keep it up throughout the winter until their natural food sources become more plentiful again in spring. Having a convenient, high-energy food source in your garden can literally mean the difference between life and death for some birds.

You can keep your bird feeders clean and disease free by cleaning them with warm soapy water on a regular basis, ensuring the birds using your feeder remain healthy.

Finally it is better to provide just enough food and top it up regularly than to leave out too much food, as in our climate it could go mouldy and that is bad for the birds.

We have a range of feeders and bird food in stock throughout the year, we can advise on which is best for your garden.

Why not join us on Saturday November 10th at 11am for a special talk on garden bird care with Niall Hatch from BirdWatch Ireland! See more HERE.

If you want any birdcare advice you can always ask our experts instore or call us on 01 531 2020 or email info@thegardenhouse.ie