Birds use up their fat reserves very quickly in cold weather, which is why feeding birds during cold spells can make all the difference. Without our help the birds can find it very difficult to locate the food and the water they need to replenish their fat reserves enough to keep them alive. Here are a few tips for anyone looking to help keep the birds healthy:
- Position the bird table or hang your bird feeders in areas that have some form of shelter. By doing so the feeder and table is less likely to be covered by the snow, this makes it difficult for the birds to find their food. Check the area each day and brush away any snow where it has accumulated.
- If you feed your birds on the ground always clear the snow or ice away before scattering the food. If possible choose an area that has some form of shelter.
- Check the feeding areas for any old food that hasn’t been eaten. Old food can make birds ill and also attract other animals into your garden that you may not be so pleased to see, such as rats and mice.
- Provide fresh water for your garden birds. During very cold weather remember to replace the water if it has frozen over or if it’s likely to be very cold. The water keeps the birds hydrated and is also used for washing to ensure their feathers are keep clean.
- Treat the birds to high energy foods during the winter, such as suet balls and blocks and sunflower seeds. Try to identify the different visitors you have in your garden and select foods they enjoy most.
- Consider hanging bird nest boxes in quiet secluded areas of your garden.
- There are common kitchen scraps that are safe for birds to eat, including: dried fruits, cheese, cooked potatoes and apples.
- Don’t give birds foods that will make them sick such as breads or salted foods.
The RSPB recently held the Big Garden Birdwatch Weekend, there’s still time to submit your results if you haven’t already: http://www.rspb.org.uk. Please come and tell us about your feathered visitors on the Just For Pets Facebook page too.