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Posts Tagged ‘feed the birds in cold weather’

The nights are getting colder and the days shorter, both of these can have a huge and often negative effect on our birds. Birds need extra food to keep them warm during chilly nights, the reduced daylight hours mean there is less time to search for natural food which as the winter progresses will become scarcer, this is why the RSPB have launched ‘Feed the Birds Day’ to raise awareness on how important it is to put out food for our wonderful feathered friends. This year it is on Saturday 24th October which is the last day of British Summer Time when the clocks go forward and it will then go darker an hour earlier.

How and what should we feed the birds

If possible put out different types of food in a variety of feeders which will be suitable for a wide range of birds, when the weather is cold birds need to eat 40% of their own body weight per day to survive.

Jupiter Peanut FeederNut feeders are made from rigid steel mesh, which is large enough to prevent birds from damaging their beaks yet will only allow small pieces of nut to be removed. Peanuts are high in fat, buy certified peanuts from a reputable supplier as some poor quality peanuts can contain the natural toxin called Aflatoxin which can kill birds, never give birds salted or dry roasted peanuts. Will attract: Tits, Greenfinches, Sparrows, Nuthatches, Great Spotted Woodpeckers and Siskins, crushed nuts are favoured by Robins, Dunnocks and Wrens.

The Adventurer FeederSeed Feeders often consist of a clear cylindrical tube with feeding ports and perching rings at the bottom of the feeder. Fill with Sunflower Seeds, Sunflower Hearts (both are high energy foods) or seed mixtures specifically for seed feeders. Will attract House Sparrows, Dunnocks, Finches and Collared Doves. Tits and Greenfinches favour sunflower seeds and crushed peanuts.

Nyjer Seed FeederNyjer Seed Feeders have very small feeding ports to control the flow of seed and minimise waste, although it is very fine Nyjer Seed is rich in oil and highly nutritious. A favourite of Goldfinches, Greenfinches and Siskins.

Hanging Star Fatball FeederFat Ball/Cake Feeders are designed to hold fat balls or fat cakes, always remove any nylon mesh bags before placing them in your feeders, these bags are a hazard to wildlife and birds can become entangled and injured. Fat Balls/Cakes can also be put on to all Bird Tables whole or broken up. Popular with all birds especially the Tit family.

Wooden Peanut Butter FeederPeanut Butter Feeders will provide your birds with a nutritious, high energy treat, refills are available in different flavours (original, nut, mealworm, insect) which are specially formulated for birds, do not give birds peanut butter for human consumption as it has a very high salt content. A favourite of the Tit family.

Mealworms for BirdsLive Mealworms are an important source of protein and extremely beneficial in Spring for young chicks and adults throughout the winter when insects are scarce. Serve your mealworms in a container with smooth, vertical sides so that they cannot escape. The Robin is often the first to the dish but they attract Wrens, Dunnocks, Tits, Song Thrushes, Blackbirds, Starlings and House Sparrows.

New York Hanging Slate TableBird Tables are available in many different designs; freestanding, hanging, wall mounted or ground. Bird tables that have a roof will give protection to birds from predators and keep the food dry.

Selection Bird Feeding TableGround Bird Tables are especially useful for ground feeding and larger birds such as Blackbirds, Thrushes and Starlings, they will still be used by smaller birds too. Elevating the food off the ground reduces the risk of hygiene problems, move the table around the garden to avoid the build up of any waste food or droppings, only put out enough food that will be eaten to avoid attracting vermin.

Coniston Bird BathBird Baths are very important and provide your birds with a supply of fresh water for drinking and bathing throughout the year, they should been cleaned out regularly and replaced with fresh water daily especially during warm weather and freezing conditions.

Leftover Food

It may be tempting to ‘treat’ your birds to some of your leftovers but this can do more harm than good:

  • Bread – although not harmful to birds it is not very nutritional and just fills them up
  • Salty Food – including salted or dry roasted peanuts can dehydrate them
  • Cooking fat from roasted meats, polyunsaturated margarines or vegetable oils – Can contain bacteria and salt, soft fats can smear on feathers destroying their waterproofing and insulating qualities. Hard fats such as Lard and Beef Suet are fine.
  • Milk – cannot be digested and can cause stomach upsets, cheese can be given safely.
  • Stale or Mouldy Food – can cause respiratory problems and salmonella.

Hygiene

The Urban Bird Feeder

The Urban Bird Feeder

Regularly clean bird feeders, bird tables and bird baths, wash well using a stiff brush and a mild disinfectant, rinse and allow to completely dry out before refilling. Wash them outside use separate utensils, wearing gloves and wash your hands afterwards. Throw away mouldy bird food from feeders and tables if there is a surplus reduce the amount that you put out, excess food on the ground can attract rats and mice.

Now is the time to check your feeders, buy some new ones and stock up on your bird food for the winter, why not get the children involved, then sit back and enjoy watching the birds in your garden.

Gill

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In life there are few certainties and many uncertainties; the British weather has got to be one of the biggest uncertainties, in Britain we have a very varied and changeable climate not just north to south but regional as well which makes it very hard for our weathermen to forecast, even with new technology. The weather affects everything not just your holiday or BBQ, it also has a huge impact on plants, birds, wildlife and even the seasons too, although Spring comes at the same time each year, it can in fact be early brought on by mild temperatures or late if we have prolonged cold spell with freezing temperatures.

Early Small Tortoiseshell

Unseasonal mild weather can bring creatures out of hibernation early, yesterday there was a Small Tortoiseshell Butterfly fluttering against the upstairs windows if we had let it out it wouldn’t have survived, it is too cold and there are hardly any flowers about so it would have had no food, as well as being an easy meal for a hungry bird. Thomas managed to catch it in his butterfly net and place it safely in his pop up Butterfly House which he then put in a dark cupboard, it has now gone back to sleep, we shall keep checking on it.

10 Fat Ball Feeding Ring

As I write this there are twelve starlings picking food off the lawn and pushing their beaks into the soft ground trying to find tasty worms or grubs, with half a dozen House Sparrows busy on the Seed Feeders, which are filled with high energy sunflower hearts although they are slightly more expensive than bird seed I find there is little mess or waste, the fat ball feeders are very popular with all the birds and need refilling the most often. The weathermen are predicting another cold snap this week from Wednesday onwards which they say will last well into next week I will be replenishing my stock of bird food to keep the feeders topped up.

We get a lot of Starlings and House Sparrows in our garden (both of which are in decline this has become apparent from the results of The Big Garden Birdwatches over the last 36 years) we also get the odd Blackbird, Wren, Robin and amazingly Goldcrest yet we have very few Blue, Great or Coal Tits, recently we have had regular visits from a family of Log-tailed Tits they are a delight to watch and are my favourite bird, we did the Big Garden Birdwatch at home yesterday (Sunday) we were down on species and numbers compared to last year I think this was partly due to the weather, it was definitely milder than previous days which could possibly mean that the birds were searching and finding food in the fields and hedgerows, I am sure the heavy drizzle didn’t help either.

Here is my ‘forecast’ for the week ahead:

  1. Turning colder
  2. Send in the results of The Big Garden Birdwatch
  3. Buy more Bird Food
  4. Keep the Bird Feeders topped up
  5. Stay warm inside and enjoy watching the birds in your garden

Love your environment – whatever the weather

Gill

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Winter is finally here with sub-zero temperatures and a covering of snow in many parts with yet more forecast. The fall in temperatures will come as quite a shock to our wildlife they have endured a relatively mild winter up to now, but we as a nation of wildlife lovers can really help. The birds in our garden are struggling to find any food as their natural food sources are depleted or frozen in the ground, fresh unfrozen water too will be hard to find, High Calorie/Energy foods with a High Fat Content are the most beneficial to put out for the birds :

Seed Mixes are prepared using top quality high calorie ingredients and have been developed to appeal to, and benefit a wide variety of bird species all year round and include High Energy Bird Mix, Bird Feeder Seed, Table Seed Mix, Gourmet Robin Food as well as Nyjer Seed and Sunflower Heart Seeds.

Table Seed Mix

High Fat content Bird Foods are also high in calories and include Peanut Cakes, Fat Balls, Fat filled Coconuts, Peanut Cake Bells and Suet Pellets with Insects and are excellent winter food.

High calorie Peanut Cakes

Live Mealworms are a natural food and relished by Robins, Blue Tits and other insect eating birds and should be provided when fresh.

Live Mealworms are loved by Blue Tits

Clean water is important for the birds both for drinking and also bathing this is essential to keep their feathers in good condition. To prevent the water from freezing add a lightweight ball which will move in the breeze or pour on hot water to melt the ice.

Ceramic Hanging Bird Bath / Water Dish

Ceramic Hanging Bird Bath / Water Dish

Have a look at our range of Bird Food, Bird Feeders, Bird Tables, Bird Baths and treat the birds in your garden.

Gill

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