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Feeding birds properly in winter –

Feeding birds properly in winter –

Even when designing a garden, it is important for birds to have shrubs and trees that serve as places of refuge for them and where they can breed and find food, says Andreas Klewen from Birdlife Carinthia: “These are primarily berry and fruit-bearing shrubs. They also provide food for birds in the winter. In the fall, the fruits are an excellent source of food. Not everything falls or gets eaten right away, so birds can rely on it even in winter.

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Radio Carinthia, 23 December 2023

Deciduous fruit as a food source

For example, fruit trees in the garden are also a measure that distinguishes a bird-friendly garden, because not everything has to be harvested by humans. The expert says that fallen fruit can also be left lying around: “Birds take what they need. For example, in winter, you should not cut an apple to make it easier for the bird to eat, because the cut apple will freeze. If you leave it whole, the bird can choose Something depending on what he needs.

ORF/Iris Hofmeister

Choose a safe location for cats

Many people also want to help birds with feeders in the winter. According to Klewen, the location in which they are installed is crucial: “It should definitely be safe for cats. For example, close to bushes is ideal. Birds can escape there and the cat can't chase them either.

If the feeder is near a windowsill where the cat can easily jump, you may want to place it in a different location: “Unfortunately, cats also catch songbirds.” Once you find a location, you still have to decide where to feed. Feeder. Different species of birds have different needs when it comes to feeder shape.

The use of a feed silo is recommended for hygiene reasons

“The feed silo is ideal for many species of birds. It protects the food and prevents it from getting wet in the event of snow or rain. The bird does not come into direct contact with the food itself by stepping on it, as is the case with a traditional feeder. This in turn means that the feed remains pure Not contaminated with feces.

If you decide to use a traditional bird feeder, you should clean it with hot water from time to time, even in winter, recommends Klewen: “No chemicals should be used, as that would be counterproductive for the bird in question, as they will come after that”. Again with regards to food. Hot water is best for cleaning the feeder.

Birds eat grains or soft foods

Birds have different preferences. According to Klewen, sunflower seeds are the best choice because almost all species of birds eat them. “But if you want to offer different things to different species, you have to differentiate between grain eaters and snack eaters. Grain eaters like sunflower seeds, millet, hemp seeds, walnuts and hazelnuts.” Soft eaters, on the other hand, prefer soft foods such as raisins and oatmeal, but also so-called suet balls.

The bird

Bird life / Alexander Chugil

The bird

Classic grain-eaters include finches and finches, but also goldfinches, bullfinches, and finches. This also includes the house sparrow and field sparrow. “These are traditional grain eaters. They have a compressed beak, but they generally prefer to eat grains,” says Klewen. Classic snack eaters may be, for example, the blackbird, but also tits, great tits, blue tits, or tits. Coal, robin, or great spotted woodpecker.

Insects are a very popular item

As with fat rings, fat balls contain mainly fat, but also seeds. “But now there are also feed mixtures where insects are incorporated into this fat. This is also very natural, because it is possible for birds to find insects in winter. For example, there are always insects hiding behind the bark. “But even if they are “There are open areas on the ground, and birds will find insect larvae there to spend the winter.”

Bird house with bird food

ORF/George Hammer

Birdhouse with “nipple bait” and fat ring

Don't forget to refill regularly

There is something you should definitely keep in mind when feeding birds: the food must be refilled in a timely manner, because the birds get used to the feeding place: “They need a quick supply of energy, especially after the night. Because of the cold in the winter months, a lot of fat is burned overnight. The bird remembers that it can quickly get food from the feeder in the morning. It is then absorbed there and can provide the body with enough energy as quickly as possible to get through the day.

For anyone interested, there is a new free brochure from Birdlife Austria on the topic of “Feathered Guests at the Feeder”. It shows the most common bird feeding visitors and offers tips for designing a bird-friendly garden and feeding them in winter.

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