Published on Wednesday, 10th February 2016
In today’s busy lifestyle and on-the-go living, bird feeding is one of the most popular and enjoyable ways to observe the local wildlife and a bit of nature. Bird feeding is also an inexpensive activity that can help sustain bird populations through the seasons, if done correctly.
Here are our Top Bird Feeding Tips:
Feeders and feeding stations
There are many different varieties of bird feeders and feeding stations available these days, from the more traditional wooden feeders to platform, suet or tube feeders – and each design can attract a different species of bird into your garden. When choosing a feeder, bear the following in mind:
What type of birds would I like in my garden? Ground level feeders attract doves and pigeons; hanging feeders tend to attract titmice, goldfinches, and cardinals; while tree-trunk type feeders attract woodpeckers and wrens.
What is your budget? Plastic tube feeders can be a cheaper choice and are easier to clean and refill. Wooden bird feeders can look very attractive in a garden, but require additional care.
What is the best feeder size? Smaller feeders are an optimal choice as the feeder will empty quicker, leaving less possibility of seeds getting wet and spoiling. Try placing a few smaller sized feeders in your garden to avoid crowding and always have a supply waiting.
Bird seed and safe food
While most store-bought seed mixes might be adequate, always make sure the brand is a reputable source. Giving wild birds options of nutritionally higher quality foods can be a wonderful self-rewarding choice.
Black-oil sunflower seeds and sunflower hearts, peanuts, white proso millet, nyjer seeds, mealworms and cracked corn are both high in fat and protein content, offering high energy meals.
Human food is not safe for most bird species. Against what we’ve always thought, bread has no nutritional value for birds. Stale bread could also potentially harm birds.
For variety in the seasons, sultanas soaked in water can be offered for ground feeding birds, while during Spring, fruits can be left out for birds to peck on.
It is imperative to keep bird feeders and feeding stations clean with a regular scrub and sterilisation. This not only keeps the bird population healthier, but it also reduces the risk of spreading bird-related diseases. Mouldy and spoiled food should be thrown away and replenished with fresh, dry feed.
Bird feeder placement
As mentioned in our first tip, placement of your feeder can play a vital role in the types of birds that visit your garden. Try experimenting with the height of feeders on tree branches, but be sure to guard the feeders against squirrels and other critters that can scare off the birds. Squirrel-proof feeders, metal domes or even cut hose piping segments on the hanging line can all deter squirrels.
Add a water feature
During the Winter months when water sources freeze over, birds rely heavily on garden water features to drink, especially after a banquet of dry seeds and nuts. Consider adding a small and simple water feature to your garden, preferably with clean, untreated running water, or a pond. It will save birds from a long trip to find other natural sources and they will use these water features to preen their feathers and rest up before moving on or migrating.
While bird watching can be a relaxing and enjoyable pastime, be sure to provide birds with a safe environment. Startled birds will often fly off in any direction simply to get away and, as a result, many birds have died from window collisions. Research has shown that placing bird feeders closer to a window reduces any impact, leading to a safer collision – or simply place them further away from windows. You could add colourful stickers to your windows so that birds can spot them from far.
What kind of birds can you expect?
In small town gardens, you could expect to see dunnocks, song thrushes, chaffinches, starlings, house sparrows, blackbirds, great and blue tits, and robins.
Wooded areas will have woodpeckers, nuthatches, marsh, coal, and long-tailed tits.
Did you know– if you notice that not many birds are visiting your garden in the winter, this is a good signal for a mild Winter. Other food sources are available to birds, so they have no need to scavenge.
Bird feeding is both a relaxing and worthwhile hobby. By leaving out bird feeders with nutritious seeds, many a migrating bird will benefit from the readily available meal. This saves the bird population and ensures a healthy one. Keep an in-depth field guide ready with a pair of binoculars and become an expert in identifying some of the UK’s most iconic bird species.