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Feeding Garden Birds

by Paul Laurie


Brambling

The winter is a difficult season for many of our common birds as the weather becomes less predictable, the temperature drops and natural food sources, already low, become difficult for birds to exploit.

Feeding garden birds for many of us is part of our daily routine and the food that we offer our garden birds becomes the major food source for hundreds of birds.

Greenfinch, Chaffinch and House Sparrow are easily provided for with general seed mixes, other species can be more difficult to feed and below is a table of foods and the species that are likley to benefit from them.

Black Sunflower:
Greenfinch, Coal, Blue and  Great Tit.

Sunflower Hearts:
Stock Dove, House Sparrow, Tree Sparrow, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Chaffinch, Bullfinch, Coal, Blue, Great & Marsh Tit.

Seed Mix coated in Aniseed Oil:
Most common species plus, Tree Sparrow, Brambling, Yellowhammer & Reed Buting.

Niger/Thistle Seed:
Goldfinch, Siskin & Redpoll.

Peanuts:
Great Spotted Woodpecker, Nuthatch, Coal, Blue & Great Tit and Greenfinch. Fat Balls: Starling, Jackdaw, Blackbird, Coal, Blue & Great Tit.

Suet Mix:
Goldcrest, Treecreeper, Chiffchaff, Wren, Dunnock, Blackbird, thrushes & Long-tailed Tit.

Sultanas:
Blackbirds & Song Thrush.

Fruit:
Blackcap, Blackbirds, Mistle Thrush, Redwing, Fieldfare & Waxwing.

Live Meal Worms:
Robin, Wren & Dunnock.

Dried Insects:
Robin, Wren & Dunnock.

Food for birds can be placed on a bird table, in feeders or on the ground. Bird tables, feeder poles and feeders should be placed close to a tree or bush for cover as this will not only encourage less confiding birds to visit but also give the birds a refuge during a sparrowhawk attack. Water is vital to birds during the winter both as a source of drinking water and for
washing.

Ice free, fresh water will help attract birds to your garden and make them regular visitors. Shelter can be provided for roosting birds. Many small species use nest boxes to roost in during cold nights. In particular Wrens, Tits and Dunnocks. Not only does the box provide warmth, but also security. Long term planning of your garden can provide natural food for many birds, this would include planting fruit trees, shrubs and wild flowers.

Improving your garden for insects will also help your bird populations during the spring and summer. Wild birds need our help
if they are to survive in a modern world where natural foods are becoming scarce. If we continue to increase the food we provide for the birds in our own environment then the numbers will begin to increase helping to ensure their survival and enabling us to enjoy their company.

For more help and advice as well as items for sale please look at Paul's bird and natural history shop, Bird Ventures. Paul also leads birdwatching tours in Norfolk (and elswhere) through his company The Bird ID Company .

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