Picture a warm spring afternoon in the garden, the sun is shining and the birds are singing, but what can you feed them to encourage them to keep coming back? Feeding birds can be extremely rewarding and somewhat therapeutic, but feeding them the right food is important for the birds visiting your garden.
Instead of reaching for the nearest loaf of bread, which could do the little birds more harm than good, there are plenty of other bird food options out there. In fact, garden birds can have different preferences on where and what they eat. Discover why getting the right bird food is so important, and what types of food you should be feeding your flying visitors.
Seasonality is very important when it comes to feeding wild birds, and what food you put out should change from month to month.
Spring and summer
During spring and summer, birds require foods that are high in protein as they are most likely moulting. Baby birds and fledglings will also need supporting with the correct bird foo during these months.
Birds perfectly time their breeding season due to more natural food sources during these months. However, it’s important to note that if the weather is unusually wet or dry, natural sources may become more and more sparse. For example, insects might hide away during wet weather, and dry weather could cause earthworms to stay underground.
To support your garden birds with the right food during these months, dried mealworms and the ever-popular sunflower hearts are a good place to start. Avoid any suet-based products or homemade fat balls during these months. They could go off in the warm weather and do more harm than good. Good hygiene is also very important in warm weather.
Autumn and winter
In Autumn and winter, it’s important to put out food and water regularly for your garden birds. If the weather is severe, such as snow or icy conditions, feeding your birds twice daily is recommended.
During this time of year, birds require foods high in energy and fat to maintain their fat reserves, and ultimately keep them warm during the cold winter months. Feeding your garden birds the wrong foods at this time of year could be harmful.
In Autumn, you could start with peanuts and black oil sunflower seeds as they are packed with energy and nutrition for the birds in your garden. Similarly to the spring and summer months, sunflower seeds are also appropriate due to their high energy content, as are Niger seeds. Whatever you decide to feed the birds in your garden, seasonality should play a big part in the bird food you choose.
Natural food shortages
If natural sources of food are sparse for the birds, often due to extreme weather conditions, it’s important to make sure the food you are putting out is suitable for their chicks, too. When natural food shortages occur, birds might take some of your garden bird food back to their nests to feed the babies.
Avoid putting out dry hard foods such as peanuts or fat balls during these extreme conditions, as they could be a choking hazard for young chicks. It sounds so simple, but ensuring the food you put out is small enough for all birds could go a long way.