Feeding birds in Winter

When the cold weather strikes, the chances of birds visiting our gardens increase dramatically. Food for birds is very scare and hard to come by in the winter months, especially when the ground is covered with a thick blanket of snow. With a little effort, any of us, whether we are avid gardeners or not can do a little to help the wildlife thrive during the cold winter months.

We can easily help by providing food in the form of fat balls, meal worms, nuts, seeds and grains. If using nuts, make sure that they don’t go mouldy as these are poisonous to the birds.

You can easily make the fat balls for the birds yourself at home rather than buying them in. Simply melt some lard or suet in a pan, add a variety of bird seeds and mix thoroughly. Using an old yoghurt pot, cut a small hole in the bottom and pull a length of string through. Fill the pot with the mixture, ensuring that it wraps itself around the string and leave to harden. When the mixture is hard, remove the pot and hang them on various objects around the garden.

There are a number of other foods that birds would thank you for if they could. These include food items such as cooked pasta and cooked rice, porridge oats, soft fruit and grated cheese.

Another idea is to plan ahead in the spring and summer months & plant plenty of sunflower plants. Not only will bees and other beneficial insects benefit from the pollen on these large glorious heads in the summer, but the flower heads when left to dry, are a valuable source of highly nutritious seeds. Save the seeds for the next year’s planting and repeat the process and plant again the following spring.

If you have any fruit bushes in your garden or allotment you can remove the protective netting. This gives the birds an opportunity to eat the remaining berries that you will no longer be eating.

Birds will also need to have access to a fresh supply of water too, both for drinking and bathing. Just put clean, tepid water in any kind of shallow container, away from the reach of cats. Adding a ping pong ball in the container will also prevent the water from freezing.

More information about how you can feed birds during winter can be found from the RSPB’s webpage.

Happy diggin’


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3 Responses to Feeding birds in Winter

  1. Pecora Nera says:

    The birds from miles around just fly straight into our hen house and eat the chickens food. There is a big fig tree and a conker tree in the hens run and the birds sit in the trees chatting away until they feel hungry then they just fly down and share the chickens food.

    But you have some great ideas for non chicken keepers.

  2. Jason Curtis says:

    Hi Deb,
    Another great post. Can I also suggest a few things we can all do to make life easier for the birds this winter.

    Feed birds little and often as a regular supply of food will keep the birds coming into your garden. By putting little amounts of food out at a time you will ensure the food stays fresh.

    You can feed birds all through the year as spring and summer can also be a time where birds struggle to find food and water. If you do feed birds in the spring make sure the food you supply is very small as baby birds can choke of large food particles.

    We all know bread is a cheap way to feed birds but it contains little nutritional value so I wouldn’t recommend using it. Instead use nuts, seeds, apples and fat balls, but please remove the netting from around peanuts and fat balls as birds do get their feet stuck and can die!

    If you have a gardens filled with lots of seed bearing plants like sunflowers or teasels for example leave the seed heads for the birds during the winter. The birds get a free meal and when the seed heads get a coating of frost they add extra interest to your garden.

    Where you can also try to use bird feeders made from metal and wire as this will stop squirrels from trashing your feeds. Also clean your feeders with hot soapy water every few weeks as this will help to ensure your birds stay free from disease.

    I hope this is helpful. Keep up the good work 🙂

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