Feeding Wild Birds in your garden
Many people like to supplement their garden birds’ diet with extra food – especially in the winter. This can be a real life-saver in harsh weather. What benefits the birds also benefits the human inhabitants of the house, by the addition of beautiful wild creatures and hours of entertainment.
There is also an important knock-on effect for the organic gardener – birds will get used to searching for food in your garden and will search for greenfly, caterpillars and snails during the rest of the year.
Different species of birds have different feeding habits. Hanging food is ideal for members of the tit family, so using a peanut dispenser is fine. Site it high enough up so that cats can’t get at it.
If the food is too exposed, the birds may be in danger from sparrowhawks, so it is best to provide cover nearby, like trees or hedges.
Bird tables have the benefit of being off the ground so other foraging animals like mice and rats can’t get at it. A roof to the bird table helps to keep rain off but is not essential.
Many birds prefer to eat on the ground, so put food on the lawn – well away from shrubs which can be hiding a cat. Don’t put too much out at once – if it’s still there when night comes, the rodent population will flourish! If you attract rats they will kill all the baby birds they can find which defeats the object
Fresh water should be provided at all times, in a shallow container.
What to give?
- High energy foods, various nuts and seeds. Try grating a few peanuts for wrens or robins
- Soaked bread (white or brown) – dry bread swells in the stomach. NB This also prevents large pieces of bread which attract rooks and pigeons who deter other birds.
- Leftovers, e.g. cake, cooked rice etc. are fine, but no spicy or salty foods, or “gone off” foods.
- Apples, cut in half are excellent for blackbirds and robins.
- Fat is great for energy but unlike us they need saturated fat so no unsaturated fat margarine