Autumn and winter
At this time of year, put out food and water on a regular basis. In severe weather, feed twice daily if you can: in the morning and in the early afternoon.
Birds require high-energy (high-fat) foods during the cold winter weather to maintain their fat reserves to survive the frosty nights. Use only good-quality food and scraps.
Always adjust the quantity given to the demand, and never allow uneaten foods to accumulate around the feeders. Once you establish a feeding routine, try not to change it as the birds will become used to it and time their visits to your garden accordingly.
Good hygiene is vital in all seasons, or feeding may do more harm than good.
A large number of birds eat seeds and will be attracted to your garden if you hang up a peanut or seed feeder. Many different types and sizes are available, made from metal and plastic. Some even have a 'cage' around them to discourage squirrels and larger birds.
Winter and early spring is the most important time to feed birds, as this is when their natural food is scarce.
Choose the best feeder for you:
- Peanut Feeders are made of steel mesh, and are the only safe method of offering nuts to wild birds. The mesh size needs to be large enough to prevent beak damage and small enough to prevent large pieces of nut from being removed – about 6 mm is a good compromise.
- Seed Feedersare tubular transparent containers with holes, through which birds are able to access the seed. These are designed for sunflower seeds and seed mixes labelled feeder seed. They will attract tits, siskins and greenfinches.
- Nyjer Seed is smaller and needs a special type of seed feeder. They are particularly popular with goldfinches and siskins.
- Hopper type feeders with trays or flat surfaces are suited to general cereal based mixes, although any seed mix can be used. They will attract a similar range of birds to a bird table. Make sure that all feeders drain easily and do not allow the build-up of old food with the associated health risks.
- Home-made devices - Half-coconuts and tit bells filled with fat, bird cake, etc can be hung from your bird table, a tree or from a bracket on a wall. They will attract greenfinches, house sparrows and tits.
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