Winter can be a hard time for birds. The cooler weather, reduced vegetation and harder ground can make it difficult for them to survive on their usual diet of insects, spiders and worms. That’s why it’s so important that more of us install bird feeders in our gardens so we can provide birds with a continual, plentiful supply of food throughout the winter. But, the question is, what should you be putting on the menu?
Here are five ideas you might like to consider to help see local birds through the colder months.
1. Suet Balls
Suet balls are high in calories, making it an ideal addition to any bird feeder throughout winter. A standard feeder with small ports won’t be suitable for this kind of food, so look for a feeder specifically designed to hold fat balls. You can buy suet balls, or you can make your own by pouring melted suet onto dried fruit and oats, rolling the mixture into little balls before placing them in the feeder.
Peanuts are another good source of fat, making them a firm favourite of birds who live in cool climates throughout winter. Avoid dry roasted or salted peanuts, opting for unsalted peanuts instead. Peanuts are such a delicious treat that you’re bound to see an array of birds at your feeder to gobble them up, so keep your eyes peeled! Keep in mind, squirrels will find it hard to resist such a tasty treat, so you might want to consider a feeder that is squirrel proof.
3. Grated Cheese
Another food source that is naturally high in fat is grated cheese. Scoop up your kitchen leftovers and sprinkle a little grated cheese in with the other seed mix. Just make sure you’re cleaning out the feeder regularly if you’re going to add something like cheese as it can go off or get stuck to the feeder – like us, birds prefer eating from a clean plate.
4. Softened Dried Fruits
Did you know that some birds don’t really eat much in the way of seeds? Robins, for instance, are one such type of bird, but they do enjoy eating fruit. You can offer up dried fruit that’s been soaked in plenty of water if you want to catch a glimpse of a robin in your garden in the winter.
5. Black Oil Sunflower Seeds
Finally, black oil sunflower seeds cater for a large variety of birds, making it a good winter staple. They have a very high meat to shell ratio (a thinner shell than striped sunflower seeds, for instance), and they’re high in fat and other nutrients too. Also, because the shell is so thin, it’s easy for small birds to crack. Black oil sunflower seeds are a great idea if you want a general, multi-purpose seed that caters to small and medium sized birds alike.
These are just a handful of ideas for the kinds of food you can put in your bird feeders throughout winter, but they’re perfect to start. You can always add more offerings as winter continues. Your resident birds are sure to love the new variety of treats to get them through the cold months.
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