Feeding Our Feathered Friends
As the winter draws in, spare a thought for the garden birds. If temperatures are low, they’ll need lots of energy to keep warm and stay alive. They are often in need of food and clean, fresh water.
Most food scraps are suitable but avoid anything which is spicy or salted and ensure it will not encourage vermin. Bread, cake or plain biscuits all make welcome treats, as do apples, which are a great source of fresh food and moisture for many birds, such as blackbirds, thrushes, sparrows and the various tits.
Peanuts are very popular with nuthatches, blue tits, great tits, coal tits and even the occasional long-tailed tit or very agile sparrow. A good quality bird feeder is essential unless your garden happens to be a squirrel-free zone.
General bird seed mixes are perfect for those birds preferring seeds or who find feeding from a peanut feeder impossible, such as robins and finches. Sprinkle the mix on a bird table, the top of a wall or perhaps a garage or shed roof and you should see it being consumed by a selection of smaller wild birds.
Fat balls and fat blocks, either plain or containing additional seed, peanuts, fruit etc. also provide an easily accessible form of much-needed calories, and can either be placed on your bird table or in special holders (see our easy recipe if you’d like to make your own).
Nowadays the thinking is that birds should be fed throughout the year (but if you do, please try to keep on doing it). Consider using some meatier live bird foods in the form of grubs and larvae, such as mealworms especially bred to be high-protein snacks for birds.
Make Your Own Fat Balls Recipe
Making fat balls is extremely easy, all you need is solid vegetable oil, beef suet or lard and some bird seed mix.
- One part solid vegetable oil, beef suet or lard
- Two parts bird seed mix
- Mix one part suet to two parts seed in a saucepan and gently heat, stirring until the fat melts.
- Use an ice cream scoop, or mould with your hands, into balls. If you want them to hang from a tree thread some string through them.
- Space apart in a plastic container or on a tray and place in the freezer to set firm.
- Once the fat balls are solid, put in the garden, hang from a tree, on a bird feeder or in a fat-ball feeder.