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Feathered Friends: Looking after garden birds this winter

Feathered Friends: Looking After Garden Birds This Winter

For many of us, watching garden birds play in the winter morning’s dew is a cute sight but the romantic image doesn’t come without us playing our part to help our feathered friends out.

Natural food sources are in short supply, the weather is colder, and, with it being colder, they need extra food to keep their energy levels up to stay warm. This is where we can all help, by following a few simple tips – we will also be able to enjoy watching (happy) garden birds at play this winter.



Offer them a variety of food, especially fatty food high in protein, fat balls are a good choice – they can contain lard or beef suet giving our feather friends plenty of energy in the cold months.

These can be purchased from most garden centres or large stores or why not try making your own at home? This can be a fun activity that you can enjoy doing with your children or grandchildren.

However, do not use chicken, turkey or vegetable fat as these fats can be transferred onto the birds feathers during preening, clogging feathers and hindering flight.

Feed on a regular basis, birds rely on it – pick a time each day you will be free to top up those feeders, then your birds won’t waste precious energy visiting and hunting for food.

Think about bird planting – like us, birds look for shelter to keep themselves warm. Evergreens are a good source of shelter and will offer them some comfort in the cold weather so think about shelter.



Feed garden birds bread, especially white bread, it will not give them the energy they require to survive and it is likely to bloat them, making them feel full so they no longer look for quality food.

Avoid milk too, which can upset their tummies and make them ill as can mouldy or stale food. Salty food should be avoided as it can dehydrate and desiccated coconut can swell in birds’ stomachs.

Use plastic net feeders, the plastic nets around fat balls for example, can be dangerous for birds – they can get tangled up. Most garden centres offer wire cages at little cost to you.~

Let your bird bath freeze, birds can struggle to find water in winter as ponds and puddles may be frozen so by keeping your bird baths or a water bowl clean and frost free will really help them.

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