You should put out food in your garden bird feeder throughout the year but especially in winter when the natural food of wild birds, berries, insects etc may be in short supply. Also during the breeding season temporary food shortages may affect young so it is especially beneficial for the birds to feed them at this time. In different seasons different types of food are needed so it is not good idea to just put out any type of food. You need to know which types of food are more suitable for the wild birds at different times of the year.
In the Spring and Summer
During the summer and when the birds are moulting they need high-protein foods. In your garden bird feeder put out raisins, black sunflower seeds, currents, grated cheese, mealworms and purchased summer seed mixes specially made for insect eating birds. Fruit loving birds would appreciate you putting out chopped up apples and pears, bananas and grapes.
During the summer do not put out bread, peanut or fats as they are harmful to baby birds. It is also not a good idea to use homemade fat balls as they become rancid very quickly in warm weather. Purchased fat balls are better but check them regularly to make sure they have not become rancid and they would also need to be discarded after about three weeks.
During the breeding season the weather may become wet or unseasonably cold leading to a shortage of insects. In a dry spell earthworms may be hard to find when the ground is hard. If there are young birds in the nest their parents will come to your garden bird feeder for food for them so it is essential that you put out suitable food for baby birds. Large pieces of bread, dried food, loose peanuts and fats are not suitable for the babies and can be lethal so do not put these out during the breeding season.
In the Fall and Winter
During this time put out food for the wild birds regularly, twice a day when the weather is particularly severe. Birds need high energy food during the winter so you can put out foods that are high in fat which will give them energy during the cold weather. Always put out only high quality food and remove any uneaten food every day.
Recipes To Feed the Wild Birds
Rendered Suet – Many bird feeding recipes use rendered suet. This is made by placing suet in a pan over low heat and gently heating until it melts. if you have an electric skillet this will be safer to use as overheating close to a flame can cause the fat to ignite. Once the suet has melted, filter it through fine cheesecloth into a heat proof container. Throw away any pieces of suet that have not melted. Cool and allow to harden then repeat this process three times.
Mixed Berry Treat
2 cups warm rendered suet
1 cup peanut butter
3/4 cup dried berries
1/4 cup corn muffin mix
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
3/4 cup oatmeal
Method – Mix the peanut butter and warm rendered suet in a pan until the peanut butter melts. Then mix in the seeds and berries, the oatmeal and the muffin mix. Mix well then either placed into small molds or make into small cakes using your hands. Allow to cool and put in your garden bird feeder for the birds.
Fruity Wild Bird Treats
Fruits – pears, apples, oranges, berries, peaches etc
Method – Cut up the fruit into smaller pieces and make a hole in the center. Thread pieces of fruit onto twine and hang from branches or poles in your garden.
Wild Bird Peanut Butter Cakes
1 cup peanut butter
1 cup warm rendered suet
6 cups cornmeal
Method – Mix peanut butter with warm rendered suet until the peanut butter melts then add the cornmeal. Mix well and form into small shapes, leave to cool then place in your garden bird feeder.
Fruit and Nut Treats
1 cup melon seeds
1 cup raisins
1 cup dried apples
1 cup nuts chopped
1 cup sunflower seeds
Method – Mix all the ingredients together and place in your garden bird feeder. This can be stored in a cool place in an airtight container.
Once you know the best foods to feed the wild birds through the year you can be sure you are helping them survive and you will enjoy them visiting your garden!
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