Helping to feed the birds in your garden can be as rewarding for you as it is for them. By using bird tables and hanging feeders, you can attract more wild birds to your garden which will be a positive experience for you, but more importantly, you’ll be helping the birds to survive, especially since there's been a large decline in the population of garden birds over the last few decades.
Over the last 30 to 40 years there’s been a huge decline in the number of native wild birds and even more so recently. Changes in farming habits, loss of hedgerows and use of pesticides are just a few reasons as to why we’re seeing a sad decline in the population of our beloved garden birds. But there’s a lot that we can do to help, especially when it comes to feeding the birds.
How can we help feed the wild birds?
The most important thing we can do to help feed wild birds is to supplement their natural food sources. This is particularly important during the winter when the daylight hours are shorter, and it can be challenging for the birds to find natural food.
Birds can lose one-tenth of their weight overnight, so it’s important they eat high-energy foods during the winter to help them stay warm and survive the frosty days and nights. Suet treats such as suet pellets, suet cakes and energy balls, and specialist winter seed mixes are packed full of energy-boosting ingredients that'll help the birds to survive the winter.
It’s equally important to feed the birds during the nesting season. If food shortages occur when birds have young in the nest, they may be tempted by food that has been put out on bird tables to make up for the shortfall in natural food. Initially, birds will use the supplementary food to feed themselves, but if the situation gets bad enough, they will also take the food back to the nest.
It’s important to consider what you’re feeding the birds with during nesting season. Peanuts and mealworms can be very dangerous choking hazards for young birds. It’s best to avoid feeding peanuts during the nesting season. However, you can re-hydrate mealworms in water to soften the hard shells. Once soft, these are safe to put out for the birds so they can feed their young. Re-hydrated mealworms will also help to hydrate the young birds too!
Access to Fresh Water
Throughout the year, it’s important to provide fresh clean water daily for the birds to drink and bathe in. In winter, birdbaths and water bowls can become frozen and inaccessible to the birds.
Make sure you break up any ice to allow them to get to the water. It’s also important for birds to have access to fresh water during the hot summer months as this will help to cool them down and keep them hydrated.
Feed the Birds All Year Round
Even though it’s extremely important to feed the birds during winter and throughout the nesting season, it’s equally important that we feed the birds all year round, with different types of supplementary foods to suit a variety of birds’ needs.
Once you've started to feed the birds, it’s important not to stop as birds will rely on your garden as a source of food.