Most of us who love our gardens and love the wildlife they attract such as butterflies, bees and birds and more. By choosing the right plants, you can easily create a garden to support insect life. But when it comes to caring for our feathered friends, some extra help with food, water and shelter can help encourage a fantastic range of bird life into your back garden.
Our guide offers helpful tips on what you can do all year round to care for the birds in your garden.
Should You Feed Garden Birds All Year Round?
According to bird care experts wild birds should be fed all year round.
This is so:
- They know where to go for food.
- They can find food easily during times of natural shortages, which aren’t always the times we think they are.
Birds have different feed and care needs depending on the season.
How to Take Care of Garden Birds in Autumn
Autumn is a season of transition for birds. Some will be seeking food to fuel their long migration. Others moult in preparation for winter. With days getting shorter, there is limited daylight for them to seek out the sustenance they need. This is the season for caring for birds with extra food and clean water in a safe environment.
- Provide bird food with high-fat content like suet to support migrating birds.
- Continue to feed regularly.
- Top up water frequently.
- It’s never too early to put up a nest box, from autumn onwards they provide winter shelter and a place to nest once spring arrives.
- If you already have a nest box, clean it between 1 September and 31 January, once any chicks have fledged.
How to Take Care of Garden Birds in Winter
The cold winter months, it is important to offer extra food and fresh water for your feathered friends.
- Cheese feed that is specially formulated with high energy content. Look for mixes that contain high levels of sunflower hearts, which are dense in essential oils, and contain other ingredients such as suet pieces to increase the calorific content. Our Hillier blend has been formulated to provide birds with everything they need.
- Include Suet as part of your feeding routine. These high-energy fat balls will keep birds coming back time and time again. The high fat content means the balls are softer, so during cold spells birds waste less energy in getting to the calories they need.
- Put fresh water out daily and check on colder days it hasn’t frozen over.
- Put up a nest box for added winter shelter and to aid birds during the early breeding seasons.
How to Take Care of Garden Birds in Spring
Spring is the key breeding season for birds. With many natural habitats in decline, birds are often in need of some friendly help. Migratory birds will be arriving back and having expended tens of thousands of calories will need feeds that are high in protein and essential oils to refuel their bodies after the long flight.
- Give high protein bird food, like sunflower seeds.
- Put up a nest box in early spring if you haven’t done so already.
- Ensure clean water is available and doesn’t freeze in event of late frosts.
Discover the range of bird baths to include in your garden at Hillier.
How to Take Care of Garden Birds in Summer
As the days get longer and the temperature rises the ground becomes harder, making it more difficult for birds to source worms. On hot days, birds need extra water just as we do. Caring for the birds by providing a drinking source will help them to stay hydrated and maintain a cool body temperature.
- Continue to feed regularly with a high protein food, like sunflower seeds.
- Top up water frequently.
Best Food to Feed Birds
Birds appreciate a wide range of foods. By putting out a selection of seed blends and suets you will be attracting and caring for a variety of species of birds. To ensure a constant supply of food, put out feed twice a day in the morning and afternoon.
These are the favoured snacks of some of our most-loved species:
|Small seeds||Flaked maize||Peanuts||Sunflower seeds/hearts||Nyjer seeds||Suet cakes||Mealworms|
|Great spotted woodpecker||X|
What not to feed birds
A number of foods are unsuitable and even deadly for wild birds:
- Salted or dry roast peanuts.
- Polyunsaturated margarines or vegetable oils.
- Dried dog and cat biscuits (choking hazard).
- Milk (can’t digest).
- Dried coconut (can swell internally and be fatal).
- Cooked porridge (can harden around beaks).
- Mouldy or stale food (may carry bacteria).
Explore the range of wild bird feed at Hillier.
Helpful Hints All Year Around
Like humans, garden birds all have their preferred places to eat. Some love feeding on the ground, others in the trees, some happily in the open and others only under cover. To attract a wide range of birds to your garden be sure to provide a variety of feeding sites and types.
Keep it Clean
Every year birds die as a result of diseases caught from dirty water bowls and bird feeders. Caring for the birds will help to keep them healthy. Keep your feeders and water bowls clean. Rotate feeding areas around the garden to prevent bacteria from building up on the ground and clean feeding areas with a mild disinfectant.
Find all your bird care necessities at Hillier.
Garden Birds FAQ
Bread should not be fed to birds as a stand alone food source as the nutrition within it is not high enough to keep birds healthy. Whilst a small quantity of bread isn’t harmful it should be mixed with a range of nutritionally valuable foods. If birds eat too much bread, it can cause vitamin deficiencies or lead to starvation.
Avoid placing any food on the ground for the birds as this becomes easy access to any rodents that may be around. Also, you should consistently clean up any food that may have dropped from any feeders.
By placing a catching item (like a tray) underneath your bird feeder can prevent food dropping to the floor.
A hanging feeder works well as, although rats can climb, it makes it difficult for them to reach the food.
Ensure that any rubbish is away in bins to avoid attracting rodents.
Keep any food securely and neatly away in containers.
Eliminate the hiding spaces for rats within your garden. Rats don’t like being in open spaces so will not choose to spend their time in a garden where they don’t have places to go.
Place a bird feeder in the open areas of your garden. Birds like to be on the watch for predators whilst they eat and they cannot do this if the bird feeder is tucked away in a corner.
Avoid places where cats may be a problem. Do not secure your bird feeders to fences or trees where cats can easily reach the birds whilst they’re feeding.
Try to avoid places where the weather is more extreme. It should ideally have partial sun and partial shade. Don’t place it where it’s shady or fully sunny all the time.
Select a spot that is quiet. Birds don’t like to be disturbed. If they are, it could put them off coming back to feed in your garden.
Provide the birds with a lookout place. This allows them to see where their food is before they eat it and they can ensure it’s safe to visit.