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What to feed wild birds in the winter

on December 01, 2020

What to feed wild birds in the winter

From our windows, it’s lovely to watch the slow slide from autumn into winter, when the leaves turn from gold to brown and pile around the roots below. Crisp early mornings act as a brisk reminder that winter is imminent.  Wild bird life in the garden maybe a little less than during the summer, but you’ll still find great pleasure in watching wild birds such as robins, blue tits and sparrows hop around the frosty bird table.  During winter, it is very important to keep your wild bird feeders topped up with any sort of bird seed, but only feed as much as will get eaten in a day to avoid unwanted visitors.  They may go down a little slower than other times in the year, but it’s perhaps even more important to do so as natural food sources become scarce as the mercury drops.  Below we have detailed what we’ll be feeding wild birds this winter.

 Winter bird

Our top wild bird foods for winter

To help keep the birds in your garden fed, warm and happy, it’s important to feed wild bird food which contain high levels of fat. 

  • Peanuts which are high in natural oils and a favourite of most garden birds. Peanuts can be fed from a dedicated peanut feeder, a bird table, or simply scattered on a lawn or patio.
  • Suet Pellets provide a high energy food in an easy to eat size. They come in a range of flavours, such as berry, mealworm and insect, and will attract a range of birds.  They can be fed from pellet feeders, peanut feeders or a bird table.
  • Suet Balls are a classic that are enjoyed all year around, but especially during the winter. Full of energy, they can be pecked at by birds of all sizes and don’t dissolve in the rain.
  • Suet Coconuts are a self-contained treat and feeder which can be hung anywhere in your garden or on a balcony. Smaller birds will hang on the coconuts to get at the delicious suet inside which is fun to watch.
  • Suet Blocks or Logs are large blocks of high energy fat from suet. They can be fed from special feeders or simply tucked into bushes, branches or bird tables.  They come in a range of flavours, including favourites such as mealworm and peanut.

If you can’t source any of the above, it is ok to keep feeding your usual bird seed.  As long as you have something for birds to eat, they will be grateful.  If you’re feeling a little more hands on, you can also make your own DIY Suet Balls using our guide hereThis is a brilliant project, especially if you have kids, and you can mix in any bird seed you may have to make it even more appealing.


Feeding Leftovers

During winter, leftovers will be thoroughly enjoyed by wild birds, especially starlings.  Do not put out anything salty or mouldy, and birds may not appreciate left over sprouts either.  However bread crumbs, cheese, cooked rice and cereals are a welcome contribution.  Porridge oats can also be used, but must never be cooked as can solidify around beaks.  Fruit also makes great bird food due to being energy rich with natural sugars and a source of water, favourites include apples, pears and plums.  Raisins, dates and other dried fruits will be enjoyed by wild birds, but avoid feeding if you have any dogs or cats as they can be poisonous to them.

 Winter Robin

Winter Wild Bird Care

Here are some do’s and don’ts for cleaning your bird bath:

DO – Use fresh warm water, and remove ice from the bird bath before topping up.

DON’T – Use boiling water.  This will probably crack your bird bath.

DON’T – Use anti-freeze, salt, or any other anti-freezing agents as this will poison wild birds

Now you know what to put out for wild birds in the winter, but there are other steps you can take to ensure wild birds will visit your garden or outside space during winter.  Firstly, if you haven’t cleaned your bird feeders yet, do it once you finish reading this blog!  If you have a bird bath, make sure you give it a good scrub as well.  On the subject of water, it’s important that water is available to wild birds, and this is especially so when everything is frozen.  Defrosting your bird bath is an important task in freezing temperatures as there may not be many water sources which are unfrozen. 

If possible, also leave a corner or area of your garden unmanaged.  Piles of garden waste/leaves/branches offer shelter for bugs and insects, which will ultimately attract wild birds into your garden. 

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