Feeding birds in winter, basic rules

Feeding birds in winter

Feeding birds in winter is an excellent initiative to help them through this difficult season.

Indeed, although life still goes on, these long cold months are often the most difficult for birds and their food sources are often reduced to very few options.

Moreover, attracting birds in your garden in winter will enliven and enchant our gardens while the plant kingdom stays at rest.

It is also a great way to support your garden’s local ecosystem.

Why feed the birds?

Why feed birdsWinter is a period of the year during which food is scarce.

Whether we’re talking insects, bugs, worms, berries or seeds, they get harder to find. Freezing makes finding them all the more difficult.

Let’s learn how to care for them as they deserve, to help them over the winter.

It’s also important to provide adequate help so that our rightful intentions end up making their life more difficult.

  • Set up dispensers for seeds, fats and fruits that are crucial for their survival.

When to feed birds

When to feed birdsIt is important not to feed them all year long because birds must be trained to forage for their own food.

A permanent food source will create a type of addictive bond that will interrupt the natural food chain.

  • It is important to only feed birds when they need it, when winters are cold.
  • When you start feeding, keep providing fodder for them until milder weather returns.

Their true needs in winter

Bird feederBirds have needs of some crucial elements, especially foods that contain a lot of fats.

For example, you can provide seeds, dried fruits, or chopped up seasonal fruits.

Here is a short list to help you out:

  • unsalted butter or margarine
  • flour
  • apples and pears
  • a blend of seeds such as wheat, oats or barley
  • animal fat taken off meat cuts
  • berries, here are a few ideas

Best is to mix everything into a sort of chunky batter with butter or margarine, so that it becomes a soft dough that birds will easily peck through.

Hang these batter balls up on tree branches. Don’t keep bird feed balls in a net – we’ve seen some birds tangle their feet in it and die! Simplest is to set them on a plank, windowsill or ledge.

Sometimes, wire cylinders make feed balls easy to stack. Make sure they have a top cover to keep birds from climbing down inside, or they’ll get stuck, too!

Also, move your feeder around the yard. This helps birds stay “on the hunt”, and also protects your garden from “feeding highways“. Moving your feeder twice a week is ideal, but once a week is also fine.

What garden stores have to offer

Donut of fat and seeds for birdsOf course, whatever feed balls you’ll find there are perfectly suited to what our bird friends need.

Various seed types (sunflower, etc) combined with fats hanging form a seed ball sold in a net.  They’re a very suitable manner to make these nutrients available to birds. As mentioned above, best remove the net.

You can also find food sticks, canned preparations and even pouches of dried insects.

All of these options will help extend your bird’s range of winter food choices.

The best winter bird feed dispensers

Bird house food dispensersIn gardening stores or pet shops, you’ll find a wide range of bird houses and food dispensers for you to:

  • hang on trees with sturdy twine.
  • tie to large branches, well tightened to withstand strong winds.
  • nail to an nice pole right next to your kitchen or living room window.

Observing your bird house will quickly become a favorite past time for children and grown-ups alike!

You can even endeavor to build it yourself, children will often find it great fun to be involved in such a project. Even a simple tray is a perfect bird feeder.

It is a great way to deepen their knowledge about the amazing ecosystem that lives in your garden.

Moreover, these little colorful bird feeders and nesting houses make your house all the more welcoming, and they offer immediate relief to birds especially in case of foul weather.

Feeding birds in winter with sunflower heads on a ledgePreparing winter food for birds will make you an ally for all birds. It’s even more true for those that weren’t able to find more hospitable lands in their quest to survive the cold.

You’ll be supporting the ecosystem as a whole by simply creating a small wildlife park in your own garden.

Read also:

Smart tip about feeding birds in winter

Remember to only feed during the coldest months.

Image credits (edits Gaspard Lorthiois):
Pixabay: Alexandra Stockmar, Mrs Hall, Carola Engels, Cornelia Gerhardt, Erik Karits, Manfred Richter, Ralph