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Feeding birds

Local benefits:

Travellers benefits:

A lovely garden ideal for bird watching.

Benefits to the environment:

As available food and nesting areas may decline due to human activity and very cold periods.


Why feeding the birds?

Due to human activity, available food and nesting areas may decline.

Moreover, winter is a difficult period for birds in temperate regions. Available food become scarce due to frost, and days are shorter (leaving less time to look for berries and insects). Nature protection associations encourage to supply extra food during the cold periods. However, it is recommended to wait for the winter to have properly set in to start the supply, and to stop it as soon as the fine weather returns so they would not become dependent.

However this last point is contested. Some bird friends consider it would be better to help birds all year long, in order to help them feeding their offspring, and gain strength before migration periods (See the article on this topic: Feeding birds during summer)(French).

How to feed them?

1. Foster a natural diet by planting a particular type of shrubs

The first step you can undertake in your garden is planting shrubs whose berries can feed birds: Especially shrubs bearing fruits late in autumn, like hawthorn, privet or rosehip. Also, prefer planting dense hedges which are good hunting grounds for insectivorous birds. In tropical regions, where there is no winter, if you want more bird diversity you can plant whatever fruit tree or flowers each species likes more.  For example, in the video below Esperanza has on the deck a type of flowers (Tumbergia) hummingbirds are fond of !

2. A food supply for cold period

You can easily make yourself a manger you can put in a place domestic animals cannot access. But some birds prefer to eat on the ground… it is therefore to be considered according to the bird species in your garden ! Do not forget to maintain the mangers on a regular basis in order to avoid the proliferation of bacteria. Foods that can be given to birds are for example:

  • Cooked potatoes
  • Dry cheese
  • Cooked rice or pasta
  • Bread or cake crumbs

Take care, some foods can be dangerous… For example: Salted foods, dry or crisp bread, milk, foods containing fly larvae, flaxseeds or castor seeds (toxic). You can also make fat-balls yourself with food leftovers. You can for example melt some fat (even if a bit out-by-date) and mix it with seeds. Let it cool down, and put it in a net you close with a piece of string. Birds like chickadees will love it ! read this article to choose the right kind of seeds: Which seeds for which birds ?(French)

3. Don’t forget water supply

In time of frost, it may be difficult finding water. Leave some in a small cup, or  break the ice of a nearby water point.

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