Small birds in the wild, they live outside in our gardens in winter and we take pleasure in observing them. Freezing cold, snow, frost… Our small companions weaken and do not find as much food as in summer. So it is essential to help them by offering them a rich and appetizing food. With time, wild birds will get into the habit of coming to keep you company during the winter.
Why feed wild birds?
Nature offers in abundance all the food that a bird in the wild needs for its well-being and its greediness. Berries, juicy fruits, succulent seeds, insects, worms? But when frost gets in the way, it’s a different story!
In winter, food is becoming increasingly scarce. Snow covers the treetops and the ground hardens. The days get shorter and the hunting hours decrease. Energy is running out… Spent entirely on the active but fruitless search for food. Under these conditions, it becomes to feed itself. Our friends then find themselves on a diet. Proteins and fats are also assimilated by the body to warm up in periods of extreme cold. If food is lacking, the body will not be able to maintain its temperature and the bird may freeze to death in the short term.
It has been found that the mortality rate of wild birds is higher in winter, due to lack of food. Smaller species will be more fragile. Man can then be a food carrier and the savior of these small feathered creatures.
When to start?
You should not start too early or too late. It is a tight timing. Depending on the region, we must start distribution as soon as the first frosts appear. Install the feeders at the end of October, beginning of November. In the northern regions, it will attack a little earlier, while in the south, where the sun is king and temperatures are milder, we will take more time. Distribution should be stopped in early spring and gradually in summer. At these times of the year, nature wakes up and our feathered friends become, for the most part, insectivorous . Food becomes abundant again.
As soon as you start to feed them, you sign a kind of moral contract with them and commit to help them during periods of extreme cold. The wild bird knows that there is a beautiful feeder full of food in your garden and will come to visit you regularly. If you stop abruptly, the distribution, the bird having travelled a long way and consumed a lot of energy may die.
What food for wild birds?
Pet stores offer a diet specially designed for winter, which respects the nutritional needs of wild birds. In winter, it is essential to give a food richer in fat and protein to provide energy to the birds. At the same time, a body temperature is maintained which is essential to resist the cold. The food must be protected, sheltered from bad weather and predators. Ideally, a feeder should be installed and cleaned regularly.
You can then offer the feeders all of these foods :
- Grease and grease balls. Preferably of vegetable origin, with high energy value. There are also vegetable fat loaves mixed with fruits, berries, or insects, which are very popular.
- The sunflower is an indispensable and most nutritious seed.
- Seeds and seeds are the main diet of birds. Pigeons, chickadees, sparrows… Species in wooded and agricultural areas are very fond of them. They are rich in vitamins and minerals.
- Cereals, such as corn, wheat, barley, oatmeal, millet, hemp seed, sesame, … In mix, with seeds, very greedy.
- The dry and unsalted fruits (peanuts, hazelnuts …) as well as decomposed fruits (apple, pear, reason) used by gourmet and rich in vitamins, iron and calcium.
Caution: to be proscribed!
To respect their nutritional needs, there are certain foods to be removed from the niches, for the well-being of its little feathered creatures. One finds :
- Animal fats. Birds are warm-blooded animals and it is not advisable to feed them animal fats.
- Milk is not part of their diet. It is very difficult to digest and can be very toxic or even fatal, just like salty food.
- Although some wild birds are insectivorous, the larvae of flies are very resistant and once ingested can perforate the stomach of our friends.
- Toxic flax seeds, as well as “cheap” mixtures with split peas, lentils, rice… Are to be removed from the feeders.
- Many people think they are giving pleasure by offering a small treat for domestic fowl, but it is not part of the natural diet of our outdoor friends.
The element not to be forgotten this winter: water!
Every living being needs water to live. To be placed next to the feeders, always in the same place, water in winter is indispensable. In nature, water is easy to find, but with winter and freezing temperatures, it freezes! Our friends of nature thus find themselves destitute. To help them, you can make a drinking trough, not too deep with plenty of water. If you live in an area where temperatures are low, provide water that is a little warmer, to avoid freezing. This will not only allow free-ranging birds to drink, but also to clean their plumage throughout the winter.