Winter can be a hard time for our local birds so wanting to step in and offer a helping hand is a noble cause but knowing what’s best to serve your garden birds in the winter is tricky. As food becomes more scarce and they have to put more energy into keeping warm, the colder months can be a stressful time for local wildlife.
By becoming a safe haven and allowing them to always get a meal without having to search high and low and use that vital energy they need for keeping warm, you can help the wild birds around you survive this Winter and see them through to spring where everything becomes a little easier on them.
The RSPB Feed the Birds Day, held every year on October 29th encourages homes to do their part and support their local birds by providing regular food for them.
What food should I feed birds?
Birds have a varied diet so finding food to keep as many happily fed in the colder months can be a little overwhelming. When you’re considering what type of food to feed them, remember that it should be nice and high in calories to help support them and give them all the extra energy they need to stay warm. Some bird species will mostly eat seeds and berries, however both become hard to find in the colder seasons. Many will sustain themselves on insects to get more protein but these also become lacking as it gets colder.
While seeds are often a good shout throughout the Summer month, Winter is a great time to offer your neighbourhood birds food that is a little more dense and will support them through the coldest of months.
What are fat balls?
Fat balls are an excellent source of calories to give your local birds during the Winter. Bound together in a ball of fat are grains, minerals, and seeds to give birds a nutritious meal. In the warmer months, they can spoil quite quickly while in colder weather they can be left out for longer periods and will likely be gone by the time you even consider removing them from your bird feeders.
Honeyfield's Basic Fat Balls come in a tub of 50 for just £5.99, they’re inexpensive but very valuable to your local birds when it’s more difficult to find food for themselves. The handy tub keeps them fresher for longer too!
Benefits of fat balls
When considering what to feed in the winter, bird fat balls are an excellent choice, they pack a lot of energy into a small amount of food. Fat is a great way of getting energy and in the winter months, natural sources of fat can be hard to find with most food being so scarce. Energy is the biggest concern in the Winter since there is a distinct lack of availability of food.
Birds who only feed from natural sources during the winter will lose condition which makes it harder to both look for food and stay warm. Staying warm in the winter can easily mean the difference between life or death so providing an easy source of energy and fat to keep them warm can be vital to their survival.
Another big benefit of fat balls is that they can attract a range of birds, most garden birds in the inter months will enjoy getting their fill of a nice fat ball.
Fat ball feeders
Fat ball feeders need to be secure enough to stop the balls from rolling away, simply placing them on a bird table will usually mean that they just roll off the edge and become food for the garden pests instead of birds. Hanging feeders are a great option for fat balls to allow them to be nice and secure. The openings where birds feed from should be nice and wide so they can peck away pieces of the fat ball as they can be a little harder to feed from if a smaller feeder is used.
A feeder specifically designed for fat balls like the LFJ Heavy Duty Fatball Bird Feeder is ideal. The spaces are nice and open to make it easy to reach and it also has a really handy area to catch fallen crumbs and space for smaller birds to perch while they get their fill. A more streamlined design of fat ball feeder includes the Rosewood Eco Wild Bird Fat Ball Feeder with equally nice wide openings for birds to feed from.
What is suet?
Suet is another type of bird feed that comes bound in fat, usually beef fat to give them an extra boost of sustenance and calories. Contained within is usually a mixture of seeds, berries and nuts along with mealworms, different cereals and any other ingredients that might be nutritionally valuable. Because it often contains so many different ingredient options, it’s generally suitable for all different types of garden birds.
The biggest benefits of suet is just how versatile it is. You can find a variety of suet to suit every garden bird from insect eaters to berry and seed eaters. They are usually nutritionally packed which is what makes it great for the Winter when birds need an extra boost of fats and calories to help maintain their body weight.
Suet comes with the added benefit of either being served in blocks or pellets so you can cater for most sizes of garden birds and their feeder preferences.