If you’ve left out food and water for birds during summer, you might be interested to know that slight changes needs to be made for the winter period – and whilst the changes might be tiny for you, they really do help the birds out. So, if you’d like to know how to make sure you’re keeping the birds that visit your garden safe and well looked after during winter, just keep reading…
Keep an eye on your water
Firstly, you want to make sure that your water never freezes over. This is easier than it sounds – all you have to do is place something light and small in the water. If you have a ping pong ball around the house, this is perfect – if not, don’t worry; you can also use a small twig.
The idea is that whatever item you put in there should float around in the breeze, which helps to make sure the water never freezes over.
You should also be topping up your water pretty regularly to make sure it never runs out, as well as cleaning your water tray to avoid spreading diseases and infection among the birds.
Leave food and water in the open
This might sound pretty obvious but it’s worth being reminded. You need to make sure the food and water you leave out is easy for birds to spot as they’re flying over – and also easy for them to get to once they have spotted it. Having food and water out in the open also means you’ll be able to see if it’s running low and needs topping up.
An added benefit of having it out in the open is that birds are in a position to see whether any predators are creeping up on them. And if they are, it gives them a chance to escape untouched.
There are a number of ways you can leave food out for birds – including bird tables, live food feeders, and feeder stations. If you’re not sure which one to go for, we would recommend feeder stations as it means you can put food and water in the same place, making both your and the birds lives easier.
Winter Quantities of Food
When it comes to winter, it’s all about making sure you’re leaving the right foods for birds (which we’ll cover shortly) and the right amount of it. Birds typically find it harder to catch their natural food sources in winter, so what you leave out for them will make a huge difference.
Whereas in spring and summer, the food you left out was an added bonus, in a sense, the food you leave out in winter is very often the main meal.
Another reason for leaving out more food is because birds usually flock together in winter – it makes it easier for them to spot food and, as they say, there’s safety in numbers – so you might find that you get more birds to your garden than usual.
Plus, it’s not just birds that get hungry in winter – you might spot a few cheeky squirrels helping themselves too!
Bump up the calories
In winter, you need to make sure that the birds are eating enough calories to keep their energy levels up. This is because it’s going to be harder for them to find worms and insects (their natural food source) so they’re probably going to rely on whatever you leave out.
As well as leaving out bird seed and peanuts, it’s definitely worth adding fat balls, suet products, and cooked pasta to the mix as well. Just remember that when using fat balls, mixed seed, or peanuts, you should avoid the ones that have netting on them – it’s actually dangerous for birds as they can get their beaks caught in them.
Provide much needed shelter
You may already have a birdhouse set up, in which case now is the time to make sure it’s easy to get into for the birds. They need to have a clear flight path so if there are any branches or leaves in the way, now’s the time to trim them back.
If you don’t already have one, try and put it somewhere that’s not facing the sun during the day. You’ll also still need to bear in mind that it needs to be easy to get into, and easy for them to spot.
Once it’s set up, you’ll find birds love coming to stay there because it’s not only incredibly cosy, it’s also a place of safety for them.
All of these ideas are incredibly easy to implement but they really will make the world of difference to any birds that visit your garden during the harsh winter period. Happy bird spotting!