Feeding the garden birds in winter is a great way to introduce children to nature
With the approaching winter (at least if you’re reading this in the Northern Hemisphere), it’s time to consider helping your local wild birds through the cold months ahead, when finding natural food can be difficult.
Feeding the garden birds and then identifying and counting them is extremely enjoyable, and a great way to introduce children to the wonders of nature.
Here are a few tips that might help you to get started.
Peanuts are always a winner and a good first buy
I prefer to semi-grind them up a little. They are easier for the birds to take
I put the ground nuts in a nut hanger. I prefer the ones shown, with two or four holes and perches for the birds. Nuts in wire hangers are more difficult for the birds to take
Sunflower seeds are also very popular.
I use sunflower seeds in two ways. A seed hanger like this is best for greenfinches, which just happily sit on the little pole and eat until they are full
I also put them in a wire mesh hanger. The tits love these.
Bird seed comes in various mixes. You pay for what you get. The more expensive mixes have better quality seeds and greater variety.
In our garden there is a brick BBQ that we never use. This is the ideal covered location for a little seed holder like this on, as it keeps the seeds dry
A lot of birds though are perfectly happy just to peck the seeds off the ground
Fat or suet cylinders are also very popular and are a high-energy food. This one has got seeds mixed in with the fat.
Others have small mealworms added to the fat mix.
You simply fix a length of string to the hook in the top and suspend it from your bird table, feeding pole, garden shed or the low branch of a tree
Dried mealworms are readily available these days, in pots of 500 grams for example.
I put them into wire mesh hangers so that the tits can come and help themselves
I also add some to a little plastic tray which I nail to the bird table so it doesn’t blow away. Robins in particular seem rather partial to mealworms
So those are the main foodstuffs I put out for the birds. During a really cold spell, for example when the ground is frosted over or thick with snow, I will also distribute bread, cheese, oats, and chopped up apples. When it’s icy I also put out a tray of water.
I am always amazed at how quickly the birds find the food. I start feeding the birds again in mid-October after the summer break. Just since then (4 weeks ago) I have already spotted 22 different species of bird in the garden, and 51 birds altogether. One winter the total number of birds in the garden was 155 (from 26 species).
I hope that your garden birds give you as much pleasure as mine give me. I am sure the birds appreciate your efforts.