Feeding wild birds is an extremely popular pastime these days all the year round. It is inexpensive and brings its own rewards for young and old alike. As a nation of animal lovers we find there is a sense of joy around feeding all wildlife especially birds. As well as growing our bird food on the farm we corner off certain areas to encourage birds to us, often posting our pictures on facebook. Here is a list of the 5 tips we find makes the most difference in bringing birds in their numbers to your feeders.
Yes, this sounds obvious but you would be surprised at how many shops sell poor quality bird food, prices may be cheaper but this can be false economy, we often hear comments such as "my birds do not eat fat balls" or "mybirds do not eat peanuts, I had to throw them away". This is why we now give away samples of our wild bird food with each order over £20 to enable customers to try before they buy. Birds require high energy foods which have a high fat content. This is especially the case in winter weather as birds need to maintain their fat reserves to survive the cold nights and again during the breeding season when they have so many hungry fledglings to feed. It is advisable that you put out good quality bird food that will give visiting birds plenty of energy and nutrition.and that you provide a continuous supply of fresh wild bird food, whilst only putting out as much as will be eaten in one or two days.
2. Location, Location, Location!
This is very important as cats could easily use your bird feeders as their own personal hunting ground. Squirrels can be a threat too, Squirrels will not harm your birds but will frighten them away, so it is advisable to place your bird feeders as far out of reach of them as possible (check out our squirrel proof bird feeders). Five feet above ground is a good height for the feeders and they should be placed so that visiting birds can see the food easily. Birds like to take cover quickly, if possible do not position your bird feeder so it’s too exposed, somewhere within a couple of feet of a hedge of climbing plant is ideal. Lastly, position the feeder where it is easy and convenient for you to refill.
A cage feeder (as pictured above) helps ensure food is reserved for smaller birds only and stops squirrels from devouring all your Wild Bird Food.
Many people forget about how important it is to provide water for the birds. Clean drinking water should always be provided they also need water for bathing, to keep their feathers clean and in good condition. Whilst it is lovely to have a water feature in the garden as shown below, many of us simply do not have the space, any kitchen container or plant pot tray is more than sufficent to provide a suitable bird bath, just two inches of water is fine, any-more and there is a real danger of fledglings drowning.
As with any living thing, hygiene is equally important to the welfare of your feeding wild birds. Your feeders should be regularly cleaned with warm water and some kind of safe disinfectant especially if droppings are present which could easily contaminate the rest of the food. Any old food should be removed to avoid any kind of build-up of bacteria and you should also remove any wet food as this could lead to a fungal growth. It’s a good idea too, if space allows, to use a couple of different feeding sites in the garden to ensure the birds are not all gathering in just one area.
If you are setting up a bird feeder for the first time, it’s easy to get frustrated when none come to feed. It’s like everything new, word has to get around, that’s why as we said earlier, it’s important to position your feeder where birds can easily spot them. You will usually get some feeding birds within a few days, but if not, try sprinkling some bird seed on the ground for encouragement. If this doesn't work, you may have to look at where you have located the feeder. If it’s exposed and blowing about you might have to move it to a more sheltered spot. Above all, make sure the food is fresh and the feeder is clean and dry.
You might want to invest in a pair of binoculars. It’s satisfying watching the birds at your feeders but even more fun if you know what you’re looking at. A good bird book you will be able to identify the species and distinguish male from female.
This article was written by Hilary Wiles. If you have any questions or queries about the article you can email contact Hilary by email on firstname.lastname@example.org