Help your garden birds through the cold Winter
Tweet tweet ‘tis the season to be jolly! This is also the season to be extra kind to everyone – people and animals alike.
The use of pesticides and growth of intensive farming, with larger fields and the loss of hedgerows has caused a decline in the population of many of the UK’s birds, insects and wildlife. Providing your garden birds with supplementary food will help them survive, and bring them closer for you to marvel at their fascinating behaviour and their amazing colours.
Birdy Fact: The European Robin is the best known of our British birds, and they are fiercely territorial over their food! Only one robin will occupy a small garden, unless it has a mate. When their food source becomes scarce in Winter they will eat just about anything put out for them on a bird table, especially fatty foods such as bacon rind and cheese (but please make sure its free-range and organic of course!). Read more ‘Amazing Facts About Robins’ by OneKind here.
What to feed the birds
This Winter, put out food and water on a regular basis. In severe weather feed twice daily if you can: in the morning and in the early afternoon.
Birds require high energy foods during cold weather to maintain their fat reserves.
TASTY TREATS FOR BIRDS INCLUDE:
- Seed mixtures especially black sunflower seeds, nyjer seeds and peanuts.
- Fat based bird cake and food bars available from garden or pet shops or you can make your own.
- Food scraps like cooked potato, rice and cereals can also be fed to birds (soak anything like dried fruit though so it cannot choke little birds).
Birdy Fact: Once you establish a feeding routine, try not to change it as the birds will become used to it and time their visits to your garden accordingly. (So if you go away please ask a friend or neighbour to feed the birds otherwise they may get very hungry and confused, or at least put extra food out for them).
BAD FOR BIRDS:
- Porridge oats must NEVER be cooked, since this makes them glutinous and could harden around a bird’s beak.
- NEVER feed birds cooking fat, polyunsaturated margarines or vegetable oils, dog or cat food, milk, coconut or salt as it can potentially kill them.
- Avoid mouldy and stale food.
Keep bird tables and feeders clean to avoid disease. Always adjust the quantity given to the demand, and never allow uneaten foods to accumulate around feeders.
For much more advice on how to feed your garden birds visit the RSPB website here.
You can help our birds survive all year round too by feeding them regularly and by making your garden or community space wildlife friendly.
View my recent blog about Wildlife Friendly Gardening here I wrote for Lets Get Energized about how Stu and I are applying for The Wildlife Friendly Garden Award Scheme!
Feed the squirrels and pigeons too!
I’ve noticed that a lot of people try to discourage squirrels and larger birds from the bird food in their gardens, but I like to feed all the wildlife in our garden!
I started off feeding our birds because I love all the blackbirds that seem to live in our bay trees, but I also enjoy watching the pigeons and crows and the amusing antics of the squirrels who are far too heavy for the bird table but have now managed to work out to jump in and balance on it (I can see them from my office window, but can also tell when they’ve been as the bird table is left all skew-wiff at an angle!!!). Sorry for the bad quality photo above, but this was the first time I discovered our main squirrel out this Summer! Granted, they can be a bit greedy and tend to hog it all, but the other birds, including lots of tits and a whole colony it seems of chaffinch, seem to come and get their food earlier so I’ll let them off as they are cute too and are equally deserving of an easy meal : )
You don’t need to feed the Ducks!!!
I’ve just become a supporter of the charity the Canal & River Trust and they sent me this great Nature Watch Guide which you can apply to get FREE yourself to join their ‘Waterside Watch’. (It says that we should report sightings of rare wildlife such as Kingfishers which I didn’t know, and was over the moon when I saw my first ever Kingfisher last Autumn).
I was very shocked to read in their latest e-newsletter yesterday, that even in the winter months, when ducks on the river look very hungry and seem to be after your packet of crisps or sandwiches (!), that ducks don’t need us to feed them, plus, it turns out that I feed our ducks here in Dorchester on the River Frome, completely the wrong thing!
The Canal & River Trust say that most species of waterfowl are incredibly capable birds that can easily forage for their own food, and that if we do want to feed them, we need to make sure we give them nutritious treats that are similar to the food they can find for themselves. So before you head out with a bag full of stale bread, make sure you check their specially prepared menu for ducks below…
TASTY TREATS FOR DUCKS INCLUDE:
- Lettuce (chopped)
- Grapes (cut in half)
- Vegetable Peel (chopped)
BAD FOR DUCKS:
- Mouldy Food
So no more bread for you then ducky-boos!!! But I am glad to know they should be okay on their own without us meddling (but very well intentioned) humans!
If you like birds and wildfowl then take a look at our new Charity Christmas Cards in aid of the RSPB to protect birds that do need our help:
Our Compassion Collective artists Stu Jones and Jenny Lloyd have let us use these gorgeous designs for some of our 2014 Christmas cards, where we are donating 50% of the sale cost to the RSPB (Royal Society for the Protection of Birds). I’ve been busy laying out the cards myself and will be sending the designs to our fine art printers here in Dorchester first thing next week, so can’t wait to see them!
All our bird themed cards include our handy guide on what to feed the birds this Winter on the back – so you can encourage your friends and family to help the birds at the same time as giving them a lovely jolly card : )
Christmas / Birdy Fact: Did you know that postmen used to be called robins because of their red tunics and the reason the robin is associated with Christmas cards is because these were delivered by the red-coated postmen ‘robins’?!
Pre-order your charity Christmas cards online directly from us at: https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/CompassionCollective
If you order by the end of today you’ll enjoy an early bird discount too.
(‘Twill be this little birdy herself – me – who will be packing and posting your cards to you!)