Feeding birds in winter
Wild birds benefit from being fed year-round but, in the harsher winter months, keeping wild bird food resources topped up can be especially rewarding for both them and us.
What do birds eat?
We all know that our small garden birds love us giving them a helping hand. But what bird food should we be feeding them? And do different breeds of bird have their own special favourites? Here’s a handy checklist to help you decide what’s best to feed the wild birds in your garden and tips for the best bird food for winter.
• Seeds and grains. Niger will attract goldfinches and siskins. Sunflower seeds will attract tits and greenfinches. One thing’s for sure, wild bird seed is perfect for gaining the attention of a variety of different bird breeds.
• Peanuts. Choose peanuts that are unsalted, fresh and sold for human consumption or by a reputable feed shop. Peanuts attract tits, greenfinches, house sparrows, nuthatches, great spotted woodpeckers and siskins. Always provide peanuts for your birds in good-quality mesh feeders to protect chicks from being fed whole nuts which could cause choking.
• Mild grated cheese. Attracts robins, wrens and dunnocks. (It’s not just for mice!)
• Dried fruit. Blackbirds, song thrushes and robins love snacking on raisins and sultanas. Grapes, sultanas, raisins and artificial sweeteners are toxic to dogs, so make sure you place these out of reach of pets.
• Fruit. Apples, pears and soft fruits are a great autumn option for blue tits and blackbirds.
• Insects. Mealworms will attract robins and blue tits. Or try waxworms to attract tree creepers and wrens. To welcome a variety of species into your garden, our wild bird insect medley is just the thing.
• Sunflower hearts for birds. Greenfinch and tits love sunflower hearts.
For more information on what different birds prefer to eat, check out our How to Attract Wild Birds into Your Garden blog.
Wild birds just LOVE fat balls. We can’t underestimate the power of the nutritious food. Fat balls are a nutritious, high-energy treat, which is especially important for birds at this time of year when food is particularly hard to come by. Don’t forget to pick up the fat ball feeders too. If you want to have a go at making your own fat balls then check out our How to Make Your Own Fat Balls for Wild Birds blog.
Once you’ve got the food, you’ll have to pick up a bird feeder or garden bird table to put in your outdoor space. If you really want to treat the wild birds then check out our wild bird feeding station.
Keep a beady eye out for mould
If you’re wondering what to feed birds in winter, part and parcel of caring for birds in the garden is making sure we’re feeding them the healthiest and most suitable products and mixes.
One potential hazard for birds arises around peanuts – and also grains but to a much lesser extent. This is because peanuts are especially prone to a mould called ‘aflatoxin’ which can form when left in damp conditions. If our wild birds, or other animals eat any of this nasty mould it can lead to food poisoning or even liver failure.
The good news is that any peanuts imported and sold by retailers have to be tested for mould, and those that fail are rejected and destroyed. However, most of us won’t be aware that once peanuts are exposed to outside conditions, this mould can grow if left for long periods. Birds that are especially hungry will then eat these peanuts as they are faced with limited options elsewhere.
How to avoid the risks
The best way to protect wild birds from any risk is to buy a good-quality feed as well as inspecting it for signs of mould. We sell a huge range of the best-quality wild bird food online, with the majority of our products holding an impressive 5-star customer rating.
It’s also a good idea to store any wild bird feed and nuts in a dry and warm (not hot) place. This will help prevent mould growing and will also make your food last longer. Check your feeder and nesting box regularly too, and if you can see any mould on the peanuts, get rid of them straight away by throwing in the bin. Always clean your wild bird feeders with disinfectant that is pet and animal friendly, so the mould doesn’t make its way back onto the new batch of peanuts. For a full guide on how to keep bird feeders clean, check out our Top Tips for Cleaning Bird Feeders blog.
By following these simple tips you can be sure that you’ll continue to attract healthy and happy birds to your garden all year round.
For all your garden bird supplies, shop our full wild bird range online at wilko.com