Winter can be a brilliant time of year to get close up views of birds visiting the garden for food, water and shelter. It is also an exciting opportunity to see some species which are only here for the colder months, such as Fieldfares and Bramblings.
As the temperature drops and natural foods supplies fall, winter is a hard time for our garden visitors, especially birds. So there is a few things you can do to help your little flying friends through to spring! Birds require high-energy foods (high-fat) to maintain their fat reserves to survive frosty nights.
You can help them achieve this by putting out high fat foods! One of the best sources is suet/ fat based products in the form of balls, bars or cakes! You can even make your own, see my recipe here https://mynatureandphotographyblog.wordpress.com/2020/05/14/homemade-garden-bird-suet-recipe/. Fat based products are particularly popular with Long-tailed tits, I often see more than 8 on a feeder at once!
Another food rich in fat is peanuts. They are also a good source of protein and are very popular with tits, nuthatches and woodpeckers! Other good foods to provide are: nyger seed (for Gold and Greenfinches) and sunflower seeds/hearts (popular with tits and Nuthatches).
When birds have access to more nutrients in winter, the spring breeding season will be more successful; chicks will have healthier weights and laying will happen earlier!
As well as putting food in hanging feeders, it is important to provide for ground feeders too! One example of ground food is fruit! Fruits such as apples, plums and pears make a great bird food due to being energy-rich with simple sugars! These can be halved and left on either a bird table or on the ground and will be enjoyed by thrushes, blackbirds and robins!
Don’t forget water! As well as food, it is very important for birds to have access to water for drinking and cleaning in. This can be in a bird bath or even a large bowl raised off the ground. To avoid the water freezing in winter, place a small plastic ball on the surface and the movement in the wind will prevent it from freezing. If the water does freeze (which is very common during the colder months) make sure to remove the ice and refill with fresh water.
There are many ways we can help our garden birds through winter, just putting out a little food and water makes such a difference!
Here are some of my favourite bird food companies:
A little bird company: https://alittlebirdcompany.co.uk/
Ivel Valley: https://www.ivelvalleybirdfood.co.uk/
CJ wildlife: https://www.birdfood.co.uk/