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How to feed birds in garden

莹723
2020-11-26
When natural food is in short supply, birds need our help. What food should you provide? They find most of their food – such as insects, worms, slugs, snails and caterpillars – in the natural environment, but supplementary food in feeders can provide extra help. This is particularly useful when there is too much rain and caterpillars are washed off leaves, or in times of drought, when worms and other grubs retreat far below the soil surface.



——What to feed garden birds
Sunflower hearts are a great all-round option. They contain the same high calorie content as sunflower seeds, but don’t have husks and therefore don’t make a mess. If you can provide a range of foods, however, the birds will have a choice and you’re likely to attract a wider selection. For the greatest variety leave out a seed mix, a fat-based product such as fat balls, and a protein-rich source such as mealworms.

Sunflower hearts are a great all-round option. They contain the same high calorie content as sunflower seeds, but don’t have husks and therefore don’t make a mess. If you can provide a range of foods, however, the birds will have a choice and you’re likely to attract a wider selection. For the greatest variety leave out a seed mix, a fat-based product such as fat balls, and a protein-rich source such as mealworms.

Many gardeners leave out peanuts for the birds, but these aren’t always popular. This is due to the energy required to eat a peanut – birds have to manipulate the food in their beaks before they can swallow it, whereas other foods, such as sunflower hearts, enable them to simply grab and swallow. Larger birds, like jays and woodpeckers, can manage peanuts, and tits will persevere if they’re all that’s on offer.

Dried foods are good for year-round feeding and store well for months in a sealed container. However, live or rehydrated mealworms are a good option in spring and summer, as they help to ensure chicks in the nest get the moisture they need.

——Where to feed garden birds
While tits and finches are expert at clinging to feeders, blackbirds, dunnocks and robins are much happier foraging on a flat surface, such as a bird table, short grass or paving. The latter also makes it easier for you to clear up spillage if you need to. In fact, good hygiene is a must. A bird-feeding area can be a hotbed for disease, so clean your feeders weekly using a weak disinfectant solution, rinse well before allowing them to dry and then refilling. It’s also important to move the location of feeders every month, to prevent the build up of bacteria in any one area.

You can try to tailor your mixes to the season, but it’s easier to simply adjust what you feed according to what gets eaten – birds are good at telling you what they need.

Because birds need natural food, it’s vital to ensure that your garden is full of seeds, berries and particularly insects. Grow caterpillar foodplants such as native trees and shrubs, allow weeds to flourish at the back of your borders and consider letting and area of grass grow long. Ditching insecticides and digging a pond will also increase insect abundance in your garden, providing masses more food for garden birds.

——How to feed garden birds in winter
Snows and hard frosts are a real killer for birds, but relentless cold rain can be just as bad, and of course winter days are so short for foraging. Garden birds are focused on survival and getting enough calories to see them through each day and night.

Put out a full spread of seeds and nuts such as sunflower seeds, hearts and peanuts, plus suet treats such as insect or fruit nibbles, and fat balls. You can also include scraps such as grated cheese and crumbled pastry, plus fat from unsalted cuts of meat.

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