Feeding birds in winter

Posted: Wednesday 19 February 2014
by Pippa Greenwood

This week, given the recent bout of phenomenally bad weather, I'm putting out anything the birds might find appetising...

In recent years there has been a marked increase in the sale of bird food and other bird-related accessories in garden centres. As far as I’m concerned, this is a positive trend. Yes, on occasion we lose a few fruit buds to the finches in our garden, and I’m well aware that the local blackbirds enjoy more of our currants than we do. But, more often than not, the birds are also taking care of a wide array of our garden pests, such as aphids, caterpillars, slugs and snails. Perhaps most important of all, I just love seeing birds gracing our garden.

Like other gardening folk I know, I often buy bird food from my local garden centre. Fat balls are great; just remember to remove the plastic netting around them (you may recall my blog a few years ago about a near-tragedy  with a blue tit caught by the foot and hanging upside down from the netting). I also buy wild bird seed and peanuts, despite the latter's rising costs (according to the lady from whom I buy mine, they're becoming a popular source of biofuel). The other trouble with peanuts is that I have to be vigilant about strapping down the lid of the bin in which I keep them, because our local badgers can get through over £30-worth in one night.

This week, given the recent bout of phenomenally bad weather, I'm putting out anything the birds might find appetising: I regularly halve apples and lay them out across the top of the hedge. Sometimes I add bacon rinds. On the rare occasions when there's leftover cake in our household, I give the birds the crumbs. 

The LBJs ('little brown jobs' as we call the house sparrows and hedge sparrows) are seeking nourishment in pretty much all weathers, so while there's a gap in the clouds, I'm off out into the garden to deliver my own version of Meals on Wheels to them: Meals in Wellies.

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Blubell 21/02/2014 at 18:59

I try and do my bit and the birds happily eat all the seeds and fat balls provided
However my peanuts are hardly ever eaten and go mouldy . They are in
a regular peanut feeder and in the same location as the other feeders,
Any suggestions ?

Hostafan1 21/02/2014 at 19:02

I had the same problem in my last garden. I  just gave up in the end.

I use seed, fat balls and nuts here now but note that at different times of the year, the birds have different preferences.

I love the birds in my garden. They give me so much pleasure.

4thPanda 21/02/2014 at 19:03

Do you fill the feeder up to the top? I had the same problem, with the lot going mouldy. I decided to give the birds one more go with the nuts but only half filled the feeder. For some reason they ate the lot. Now I don't ever fill it to the top 

Fairygirl 21/02/2014 at 19:10

Panda's right. Just put a small amount in your feeder and top up when necessary. If you get squirrels they can scoff them, but sometimes birds leave them alone in favour of suet treats tasty mixes in seed feeders. 

nutcutlet 21/02/2014 at 19:18

Last year (or maybe the year before)  Pnuts were much more popular, I was filling daily. This year it's sunflower seed that's disappearing quickly. I seem to have the same bird mix but the weather is very different. Would that make a difference?

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