Wild Bird Care in Winter

Thursday 11 January 2018

Many creatures fatten themselves up on the bounty of summer so that they can survive over winter on their belly fat and achieve the suspended animation state of hibernation for the winter.

Fast Food

Solid frozen ground, iced water sources and a frozen landscape can make most natural food unavailable to your feathered friends. Every activity they make uses vital energy needed to keep warm, so keep your feeders and bird tables well stocked up with food so they don’t have a wasted journey. Choose food that is husk and hull free for faster feeding. It reduces the effort needed to feed and keeps the area under your feeders free from mess and debris.

Choose a seed mix that contains a wide variety of quality ingredients to provide nutrients for several different birds. Our range of food is designed to attract a broader range of birds into your garden. Offer more than one type to cater for a wider spectrum of birds, or opt for a premium blend such as species specific products that contains a balanced mix of seeds, nuts, insects, fruit, fat and berries – something for almost every garden bird. Feed according to demand especially when first feeding and in wet and cold weather. Offer food for a short period to start with to prevent wastage. Once the birds have found your feeder adjust the amount you feed accordingly.

Body Weight

Birds need to be lightweight in order to fly. Cold winter temperatures take their toll on tiny birds that need to keep their body weight up in order to survive. Small birds such as goldcrests, wrens and long tailed tits all lose their body heat much more readily than their larger cousins and need to feed regularly to keep warm. With the shorter day length, all birds have much less time to find food and for small species this can mean foraging and eating continuously from dawn until dusk. In cold and icy weather their normal food can be hard to find, so if you want to make a real difference, feed the very best quality food you can buy when it’s cold. High-energy food really can help make a difference.

Choose energy rich bird food that contains suet, nuts and oil rich seed such as sunflower hearts. Opt for dehusked mixes so that the birds can access the food quickly, especially in a frozen landscape, or choose high-energy suet treats. Peckish Daily Goodness Nuggets are a great choice as they can be presented in feeders, on bird tables or even on the ground, so that every type of bird can benefit. Each nugget contains a nutritious combination of high-energy suet, seeds and high protein mealworms, mimicking their natural diet and providing birds with all the energy and nutrients they need to stay healthy and full of life. Feed daily as part of your bird food offering and feed more in cold and icy weather.

Songbirds

It’s hard to imagine the garden without the sound of birdsong. It makes uncomfortable thinking. It would be a completely sterile and very different space. Many of our garden birds including chaffinch, wren, tits and of course the thrushes are known as songbirds, each filling the air with a musical dawn chorus and then continuing their beautiful singsong performance off and on until dusk. Just like a fine orchestra, these music makers need sustenance to sustain them. Keep them in fine fettle and good voice with a feed that suits their needs.

Offer food on bird tables and ground feeders or even sprinkled on the ground to provide a nutrient rich feed for your musical feathered friends.

Grand Designs

Nest boxes make great gifts for gardeners. Winter is the perfect time to put them up and allow them to blend into the surroundings. Wild birds often choose boxes that have been in place a season or two, familiarising themselves with the environment and site for weeks or months before they move in. They need to ensure that it provides a safe place to raise a brood. In winter nest boxes are also used for roosting by some small species. Transform your bird box into a safe roosting box with a few simple tricks.

If you haven’t already done so, clean out your nest boxes. Remove all old nest material and add it to the compost heap. Use a dedicated wildlife cleanser and give it a good scrub and then rinse well. Check the house for leaks, cracks and damage and repair them now while the box is empty. Renew hinges and ensure that the entrance hole is secure. Fix a metal plate to it where possible to prevent rodents gnawing their way in. To make it a warmer roost box, turn it upside down so that the entrance hole is at the bottom. Seal the cracks and cut panels of insulation such as Celotex or Kingspan to fit inside the box at the roof and also on the sides. Add some thick twig perches. Cut them just larger than the inside width and jam them in place. Birds are very light and a thick twig will easily support their weight. Cover the bottom of the box with a generous layer of clean dry leaves, moss or sawdust. Fix the roosting box back in place and ensure that the roof is waterproof and strong. Position it so that the entrance points down slightly to prevent rainwater falling directly inside through the entrance hole.

Robins

The quintessential winter bird of Britain simply has to be the robin. They feature on Christmas cards and their bright red chest even resembles the garb of the great Santa himself. Robins are revered by gardeners as voracious pest eaters and often shadow the winter gardener in the hope of an unearthed worm or other tasty morsel. Robins are very territorial but also have an extremely beautiful song, but these characterful birds, like many other small garden birds find winter quite a test and seven out of ten robins will die before they reach a year old. Their first winter is the hardest of all. Do your bit and help these creatures survive to raise their own chicks.

You can make a real difference by supplementing their diet with some insect rich food that mimics what they choose to eat in the wild. Choose a tailored Robin food you will soon see much more of the red-chested puffed up robins hopping between the shrubs in your garden. Robins are ground feeders but will also feast at a table. They can become quite tame and many people have trained them to take mealworms from an outstretched hand. It’s a slow process of gaining their trust that begins by offering them Dried Mealworms from the bird table. These high protein wild bird treats are almost irresistible and you could soon have them eating out of your hands. 

Top products: Natural Balance Energy Balls (50 pack tub) are £8.99 or 2 for £15

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