February is National Bird Feeding month in the United States. As we’re all homebound due to the current lockdown, we thought that we’d follow the example from across the pond and offer you some information on how to help feed your feathered garden visitors!
In the winter, birds have it rough. With sparse natural resources compared to other seasons of the year, feeding their families can prove difficult. That’s where all of us can pitch in and help out. February is the perfect time to get involved, whether you’re an old hand or a bird-feeding newbie.
Know who’s who
It is important to be aware of what birds are visiting your garden before selecting food. With different dietary requirements depending on the species, you need to make sure you have the right nibbles for your visitors!
The most common UK garden birds include robins, tits, starlings, blackbirds, house sparrows and many more. Salty food can be poisonous to small birds – they also find cooking fat or polyunsaturated fats hard to use as energy, therefore margarine and vegetable oil should be avoided.
While bread is not harmful and does fill them up, it has little nutritious value to birds and is therefore not recommended. Milk also strongly disagrees with birds and can cause serious digestive problems.
What to feed them
During the spring and summer months, birds require high protein foods, especially while they are moulting. Only feed selected foods at this time of year.
Dried mealworms and seeds are a fantastic source of protein for birds. Available from Van Hage and Pets Corner, these can be scattered on the ground or placed in a bird feeder all year round. Suet is another great high energy snack for our chirpy chums – this can also be purchased in various forms from Pets Corner and can be placed in a feeder or bird table.
Though they do not sweat, in order to remain hydrated, birds need to drink regularly. To keep their plumage in good condition, these cheerful animals love a bath, even in the winter – so make sure your garden’s basin of water is clean and free of ice!
Encouraging birds into your garden
Birds such as robins, sparrows, blue tits, chaffinches and greenfinches will be happy to use hanging feeders. Pets Corner and Van Hage have a variety of these on offer. The latterly mentioned garden centre specifically have an incredibly cute Swing Seat Feeder constructed in the style of architect Edwin Lutyens. With a removable and washable tray suitable for a range of feed types, this whimsical feeder makes it all the more wonderful to see birds quirkily enjoying food in your garden!
For ground feeders, such as blackbirds, thrushes and starlings, you could scatter food under the bird table (if cats are not regular visitors to your garden). Whichever feeder you go for, make sure to keep up a good level of hygiene.
The best way to clean feeders is to use Johnson’s Bird Clean ’n’ Safe from Pets Corner. This disinfectant kills bacteria and viruses on the various feeding devices used by birds. Remember, don’t bring them into your house when cleaning and always wash your hands thoroughly afterwards. Cleanliness is vital, or feeding may do more harm than good.
Bird houses are also an excellent way to encourage our feathered friends into your garden. With naturally occurring spaces on the decline, nest boxes are crucial to the survival of birds, providing them with a place to rest and raise their young. Van Hage stock the wonderful Wildlife World Bird House – designed out of a hollowed log, this space is ideal for the blue tit, great tit, sparrow and many other smaller birds!
With Van Hage, Pet’s Corner and Maidenhead Aquatics open every day during the lockdown – we are proud that PE1 remains the ideal shopping destination for lovers of animals and wildlife. If you’re in need of essential items for your pets and garden, be sure to pay us a visit!