Feeding garden birds in winter
Discover how to feed the birds in your garden in winter, growing plants with berries and seedheads and keeping bird feeders topped up.
Winter is a difficult time for birds - they need to find food for energy and to build fat stores to keep warm through long, cold nights. Smaller birds need to eat up to a third of their bodyweight each day.
There are two ways in which you can feed birds in winter. Firstly you can grow plants that will provide them with food, such as berries and seeds, and other plants that will provide a habitat for insects that they can eat.
Discover 10 plants for birds.
Secondly, you can provide birds with supplementary bird food in bird feeders - especially useful during winter and early spring, when natural foods are in short supply, and snow and ice can make accessing them harder. But it's worth making sure that feeders are kept topped up all year round, as birds will get used to them and it saves them making a wasted journey.
Here are some ways to feed your garden birds.
Grow berried plants
Berries are an excellent source of antioxidants. These are an important part of a bird's diet - they help them to endure long periods of physical activity. Discover 10 berried plants for birds.
Provide the right foods
Grow your own bird food
Many plants not only look good but provide abundant, easy-to-access food for birds. This means they don't waste precious energy looking for food. Both the plants and the birds will add winter interest to your garden. Discover how to grow your own bird food.
Make your own fat balls
Birds love fat cakes, especially in winter - they give them energy and keep them warm. But the feeding balls needn't be shop bought; you can use all sorts of kitchen scraps such as cheese and dry porridge oats. Discover how to make fat cakes for birds.
Make a simple feeder
Make a simple feeder using terracotta pots packed with fat cakes to attract a variety of birds, including great tits. Discover how to make a hanging bird feeder.
Don't forget to provide fresh water for birds - they will drink it and bathe in it, even in winter. Bathing helps them keep their feathers pristine and insulating. Make sure it doesn't freeze over.
Are you a keen wildlife gardener? Why not take part in the RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch on Friday 28th to Sunday 30th January 2022?
Sadly, birdlife in the UK is struggling and according to the RSPB, our bird population has declined by a staggering 38 million over the last 50 years.
The RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch, is now in its 43rd year and a great way for wildlife enthusiasts to get involved as citizen scientists and keep an eye on visiting garden birds. Last year over a million people took part, which helped the RSPB create an accurate picture of how our feathered friends are getting on, as well as highlighting which species most need our help.
Find out more about taking part in the Big Garden Birdwatch.