Although many birds in the nature can find their own food, research shows that providing supplementary food can make a difference in their lives.
Some birds may not be able to survive the natural shortage of food during which can occur any time of the year. Supplementary feeding can help more birds survive the periods of food shortage, e.g during the cold months of winter. It also increases productivity in a range of species and put them in a good breeding condition in the spring.
In an ideal situation, you should manage your garden to provide a source of natural foods, through lawns, shrubs and flowerbeds as well as providing supplementary food in bird feeders. This way your garden will be visited by a range of different birds all year round.
The following tips show you how to feed your garden birds safely and responsibly.
What to feed and where to provide food
Different species of birds have different requirements. Some species are ground feeders (e.g. Robin and Dunnock) while others prefer to feed from hanging feeders (e.g. Blue Tit and Great Spotted Woodpecker). There is a wide range of products in the market suitable for hanging feeders, birdtables and ground feeding. Depending on what products you buy for your garden, you will attract certain types of birds.
For details of bird food products, you can refer to the website of PFMA members here.
When to feed
As mentioned above, natural shortage of food may occur any time of the year and supplementary feeding of birds will increase their chance to survive the periods of food shortage.
During autumn and winter put out food regularly. Birds require high energy food during cold weather, to survive the frosty days and nights. Foods that are high in fat would provide a good source of energy.
In spring and summer selected food high in protein can be used. Maintaining a good hygiene is vital during warmer months.
And be patient!
If it takes a few days before you see any birds, don't be discouraged. The birds will visit regularly once they discover the food and convince themselves it is not a trap, which may take a few days.