It’s often as the weather warms and the garden looks more intriguing that we start to think about feeding the birds. Wild birds have different nutritional requirements at different times of the year, so it’s worth knowing what to feed them during the various seasons. Here we have tried to cover the most common questions people have about feeding and attracting the birds into their gardens in the spring.
When do I feed?
Contrary to popular belief, spring feeding is hugely important because the plants and shrubs haven’t quite woken up yet. From May onwards the new chicks will start to hatch and by keeping up with your feeding regime, you can help support the new bird families.
Where do I feed?
The majority of people opt for birds tables, mesh feeders or fat balls. And there is no right or wrong answer as different species will have different feeding habits.
Different options have different considerations though:
When using a hanging dispenser; which members of the tit family love, think about where you put it. Keeping it high off the ground stops the cats from getting too close, whilst putting it near the roses or other shrubs means it will be near to where the birds may find other foods such as greenfly or caterpillars.
Bird tables are also very popular. They are suitable for most types of birds, but also keep the food off the ground where foraging rodents can get to it. A roof is not essential, but it does help to keep the rain off and food dry.
Any feeding site that is too exposed will not appeal to the birds as it may put them in danger of other predatory birds. So think about the positioning of your feeder; somewhere secluded, near to bushes or hedges is always a good bet.
What do I feed?
From peanuts and wild bird seed to fruit, soaked bread and leftovers, you can feed the birds most things. Try to avoid dry bread which swells their stomachs, salty or spicy food, and food that has “gone off”.
In the spring months, don’t feed peanuts from a table or off the ground as the new chicks can choke on whole nuts. By using a mesh feeder, the birds break them into smaller pieces. You can also give them some black sunflower seeds, dried fruit and mealworms; all highly nutritious foods for those early chick days.
Equally as important as the food is fresh water. Make sure you provide it at all times in a shallow container so birds can drink and bath without danger of drowning.
What else can I do?
As the birds start brooding, they need extra calcium. You can help with this by rinsing, drying, baking and then crushing egg shells up and scattering them on a dry lawn area or in a cup.
And if you already have a feeder or bird table, give it a bit of a scrub. With the extra use over winter, there will probably be a bit of a poo build up. Clean feeding areas are important for healthy birds.
Feeding the birds can be highly rewarding. It brings the wildlife right into your garden, without much effort.
Rooke’s has a huge range of feeders and foods to help bring the wildlife into your garden during the summer.