Feeding Birds in Your Garden

Although some people believe that winter is the only time we need to feed birds in our garden many people still feed them year round. There is nothing wrong with this. In fact, spring is a particularly vulnerable time for birds when it comes to feeding. Here in Britain, even in spring, the temperature at night can still dip close to freezing when there are still very few seeds and insects about and, simultaneously, the birds are often expending energy defending their territories and laying eggs then incubating them so they can often rely on human help. In fact, the only time birds are more or less truly able to fend for themselves without a problem is in late summer.

What to Feed Birds

Just like us, different species of birds have different tastes. Greenfinches, for example, are quite partial to sunflower seeds and peanuts are a staple food for the likes of starlings, sparrows and the tit family. Therefore, you can be quite imaginative with what you put on your bird table. Two important things to remember, however, is never to put out any salted food, including salted peanuts, as this will cause the birds to suffer with dehydration. You should also chop up peanuts and other larger items during the feeding season as larger pieces can lodge in a chick’s throat and kill it. Naturally, birds enjoy a variety of seeds and you can buy specialist wild bird seed from your local stockist or online. Also, remember to provide birds with sufficient clean drinking water. In addition to preventing dehydration, a good supply of water helps birds to maintain their plumage as they’ll also want to bathe in it.

The Importance of Hygiene

When birds gather in large numbers, they are most at risk of spreading infectious diseases as recent cases of bird flu can testify. Therefore, it’s important to keep your feeding stations clean. You can buy special disinfectant to clean feeders out with and you should try to do this at least once a week and it’s also important to keep moving the feeders around so that any infected bird droppings do not all build up in the same place.

Other Useful Tips

Like most other creatures, birds can be just as greedy when it comes to eating so you should only put out enough food to last a couple of days. You should never let food that hasn’t been touched or any waste from food build up but clear the table regularly. Also, having a surplus of food lying around will attract other less welcome animals like cats which, for obvious reasons, will cause alarm amongst your bird contingent. And, if you or your neighbours have a cat that patrols your garden regularly, a bird feeder set in a location which the cat can’t reach is a far better proposition than a bird table. If the cat problems are much worse, you can buy animal scarers which are audible devices which omit a sound signal and which won’t affect humans but is audible to a number of animal species whom you may wish to deter from coming into your garden.

Nothing quite beats the sound of birdsong in our gardens and, by setting up a few feeders containing different varieties of bird food, you’ll hopefully get to witness a number of different species visiting your garden on a daily basis.

Reader’s Tip

‘Birds do rely on specific areas in their territory for water in or out of the breeding season. If you do have a ‘bird bath’ please maintain the clean water level all year round. Just because it’s cold, doesn’t mean the birds don’t rely on your bird bath for fresh water.

Also, two bird baths are a great idea to help small or timid birds in your garden. Why? Observation shows that starlings are large, noisy, amusing, entertaining and very boisterous when bathing and empty the water level rapidly and scare away smaller bird species’.

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