While many garden animals sleep away the cold weather, birds are still on the go! If you’d like to attract more this winter, here are some top tips:
One of the best garden bird foods is black sunflower seeds. These will be enjoyed by house sparrows and finches. If you don’t like the shells, buy sunflower hearts for no-mess.
Peanuts can naturally contain a toxin which is poisonous to birds, so make sure any you buy are marked aflatoxin-free! Never put out peanuts in net bags, as birds can get their feet caught.
Try putting out nyjer seeds. These are commonly available, but you will need a special feeder. Nyjer seeds can attract goldfinches, siskins and even redpolls. They can be a bit messy, but I think it’s worth it!
Fats are good, particularly in very cold weather. They can commonly be bought in balls (cut off any nets, see above) or in half coconut-shells. Cooking fats from roast meats aren’t suitable, as they can mess up a bird’s plumage as well as going rancid.
Suitable kitchen scraps include bruised apples (very popular with blackbirds!) little bits of cake or pastry, and mild grated cheese. Avoid anything salty or dairy, and white bread as it’s just an empty filler.
Water in winter is really important, as birds need to bathe regularly. There’s no easy way to stop a bird bath freezing (don’t use chemicals!!) but a shallow dish that can be turned over and re-filled, works for me.
Feeders and water dishes should be cleaned regularly. Practice good hygiene (wear gloves etc.) and move feeders to new locations every so often.