Wild Birds in Winter Gardens and What they Eat
Feeding wild birds in your
during the harsh winter months, will go a long way to help the local
bird population. See how you can encourage birds to your
gardens, know what to feed them during those cold winter months.
This past winter was particularly cold in some
countries, and although the wildlife and birds will survive without
your intervention, by putting food out for the birds in the wild will
them to visit you on a more regular basis. Half the fun in encouraging
wild birds to your garden of homestead is that you never know what
variety of bird will visit next.
drawbacks and disadvantages to feeding wild birds that you should be
aware of before you
start. The first one being that if you have cats, or
cats in the neighborhood make sure that you are not indirectly feeding
the cats. If you find that you are, it is best that you don't feed the
birds, or you modify your nets and bird feeders so that they are not
accessible to cats.
The other problem you may encounter is
that if there
is a lot of grain lying around you may also encourage rats. Placing a
PVC sleeve over any stake you may have used where you hang your feeders
from will make it too slippery for either cats or rats to access.
Feeding Wild Birds - What do Birds Eat?
Having gotten that out of the way,
birds is one of life's pleasures whether one lives in the country or
not. Birds eat a number of different foods, from grass seeds, to worms,
fruit, vegetables and the like.
You may decide to buy a bird feeder from a
commercial supplier to place your homemade bird food in, or
you can quite easily make a homemade bird feeds out of old orange bags,
onion bags, an old wooden tray or
different types of wild birds feed at different levels. Therefore,
if you wish to entice a variety of backyard birds to your
garden then it makes sense
the bird feeders
at ground level, at tabletop level, and have bird feeders
hanging from trees. In any event, always make sure that where you place
them is in a sheltered position near trees and shrubs where they can
fly to safety, if necessary.
make sure that your bird tables don't end up being a feeding table for
neighboring cats. If you do have cats in the area, place your feeding
tables away from fences and make sure that it is at least 8 foot off
the ground. This, however, can then be a bit of an obstacle for you to
place food on there every day.
If you are going
to feed wild birds make sure that you feed them at the same time of
day, every day. Birds like and expect a routine, and can become upset
if they don't find their daily rations when they expect them. If you do
go away, get someone to step in and feed the birds for you.
So What do
(Thistle Seed), Millet and Sunflower seeds can all be used to feed your
Black-oil Sunflower seeds will attract the greatest
variety of birds to your garden. Take care not to overfeed your birds
beginning as you don't want the seed to spoil and make your feathered
visitors ill. Increase the amount when your wild bird flock increases.
birds will also eat raisins, sultanas and currants, cooked and uncooked
rice, dry porridge oats and cold, plain potatoes in all forms except
chips. Although I know a couple of seagulls that wouldn't agree! But it
is not healthy for humans or birds, so don't offer it to them.
Thrushes, tits and starlings like eating pieces of apple and pear.
Robins, wrens, blackbirds and song thrushes like eating mild grated
You can use the orange
bags stuffed with suet
you can get from your butcher, and hang these up in the trees during
the colder months. Never feed wild birds suet in the warmer months as
spoil and go rancid very quickly. Suet will attract woodpeckers and
other insect-eating birds.
it to them in large lumps otherwise you will find your birds flying off
with it. You can also find a large branch of about a foot long and
drill fairly large holes into the branch from one side to the other at
intervals. This you can then fill with suet too and hang up in
branches. If you really want to get creative you can mix cheese with
Both cheese and suet are good energy foods for birds in winter.
For those of you who live in frost-free
want to encourage
into your garden, you can leave some saucers of sugar water around. On
a tabletop where you have some slices of fruit and some mince meat,
this will also bring feathered friends. Orange halves, apples, melons
and grapes are firm favorites when feeding wild birds.
can be bought commercially or you can make your own. The problem with a
lot of commercial seed is that often it contains seeds that are cheap
and used as 'fillers' that are not sought out by the birds. When the
birds arrive they will pick out the sunflower seeds and the millet and
leave the oats, buckwheat etc. which is then rather a waste.
You can make
own homemade bird seed quite easily.
cup white millet, 1
cup cracked corn and 2 1/2
cups black-oil sunflower seeds.
If you do start feeding wild birds from
will certainly attract a number of visitors. However, they will also
expect to be fed on a regular basis and will look to you for their
source of food before foraging elsewhere. So if you start, it will be
for the long term.
Homemade Seed Bell for Birds
Make a smooth paste with 2 tablespoons
plain flour and 4 tablespoons cold water. Mix in 1 cup bird seed. Place
on a piece of greased aluminum foil and shape into a bell. Into the
center push a loop of wire for haning. Leaving the aluminum slightly
open at the top back in a moderate oven for half an hour.
Porridge Recipe for Feeding Wild Birds
equal parts of honey, dripping, dried pea flour and instant oats. Melt
the dripping over a low heat, remove from heat and add honey, and stir,
then beat in the dry ingredients till it forms a thick paste. Put out
in containers that are peck-proof!
Feeding Wild Birds in Winter and Bird Feeding Tips:
- When you build your snowmen think about how you can add
value to your wild bird life. Decorate your snowmen with
vegetables and popcorn along with other food that you
know your local
wild birds love to eat. Make sure you build your snowman somewhere
visible from your windows so that you can get the benefit of seeing the
birds enjoying the feast.
- You can also hang large marrow bones in the
trees that have been
sawn in half - ask your butcher to do this for you. Make two loops in
some wire and hang the marrow halves up. Birds really love this treat.
- Make wreaths out of cuttings
from sorghum, wheat, millet
and even sunflower heads and tie these to tree branches for the birds
- You can do the same with pine cones.
Take the larger cones
so that they can be filled more with a mixture of suet, sunflower
seeds, raisins, peanut butter and cornmeal. Hang the pine cones in the
- Make a homemade bird feeding table
by placing a sturdy wooden post into
the ground and drill a hole into the top of it.
Take an old wooden tray
and drill into the middle of that. Screw the tray to the post with a
long screw and washer. Make sure that you feeding tray cannot be
reached by cats. You are not feeding the cat, you are feeding your wild
Now cut up oranges, apples, grapes, etc. and leave small
balls of the suet mixture made for the pine nut cones, or just stuff
pine cones and place them alongside the fruit on the tray.
- Wild birds also like popcorn and cranberries.
onto some cotton and decorate your trees with them.
So remember, if it wasn't for people feeding wild birds from their back
yards during cold winters, many of these birds would die. Hopefully you
will be persuaded to save a few birds yourself this winter too.
What NOT to Feed Wild
- Feeding wild birds cheap peanuts is dangerous as the may
contain harmful toxins that can kill some birds.
feed birds peanut butter on its own as it can cling to the inside of
their beaks and may end up preventing them from swallowing or eating
anything further. Mix the peanut butter with equal parts of corn meal
to prevent this problem.
- Don't feed birds desiccated coconut as it can swell in the
stomach and kill some birds.
- Don't feed wild birds spicy or salty food, salted nuts,
bacon, crisps and snacks, margarine, moldy food or chocolate.
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