It’s important to feed birds during the cold winter months as they need lots of extra energy to keep warm and many of their natural food sources may be covered by snow. Insects may be dead or dormant and there will be a shortage of seeds, fruit and berries.
Some birds who normally reside in the countryside may venture into more urban areas and gardens in search of food so it’s important to keep your feeders and bird tables topped up to accommodate these additional visitors.
High energy foods such as fat balls and suet treats are ideal for feeding over winter. Seed mixes will attract a variety of small birds and niger seed or sunflower hearts are loved by goldfinches who may visit your garden in large flocks hunting for food.
Leave windfalls for softbills such as thrushes and blackbirds who prefer to eat from the ground. You may be lucky enough to have a redwing or fieldfare visit.
Don’t forget you can feed the birds your Christmas leftovers. They will enjoy eating Christmas cake, mince pies and Christmas pudding which are full of fruit and fat providing them with lots of energy, mild cheese, dried and fresh fruit and unsalted nuts, and use up the fat from your roasting tins by binding with bird seed and making into fat cakes.
Avoid putting out leftover meat or vegetables which birds will not enjoy and may go rotten or attract vermin, anything heavily salted such as crisps or salted nuts, chocolate which can be toxic to birds, and shop-bought stuffing which contains many artificial ingredients and can cause birds to become dehydrated.
Put out some water for birds to drink as their usual sources may be frozen over. You don’t need a bird bath – a shallow dish or an upturned dustbin lid would do.