As winter approaches, wild birds need our help to survive this crucial time. They need warm shelter and plenty of food, but when to start feeding and until when? Find out all the details in this article!
Winter: ideal for feeding songbirds?
It is advisable not to feed your songbirds too early and wait for the first significant drop in temperature and the first frost. October and November are good months, depending on the region and the cold, to install a nesting box and feeder in a sheltered place.
With the winter and the cold weather, food is lacking for outdoor birds. Fruits are no longer available, seeds have been harvested, but there are still the little inhabitants of the earth such as snails, caterpillars… For the big beaks! But with the snow coming down and the cold, everyone retreats to their taverns. It is a chase between the birds to find the last food.
The birds of nature, in winter, are thus weakened and can die for lack of food. Thus, it becomes essential to help wild birds in winter, by placing in the feeders a small daily quantity of food (fat balls, seeds…), distributed at a fixed time: morning or evening!
Spring officially ends on March 21, but this month means “March sleet” and therefore still mixed weather. With the numerous climatic disturbances, the seasons are shifting and the cold can persist beyond March or April in some regions of northern France. The food rations are still meager. Moreover, the intensification of agricultural production, the seeds become scarce, which pushes some to continue throughout the year the distribution.
It is a period of hunting for birds and they are likely to be hungry! Between those who return and those who stay all year and the nesting season, your garden bird population will double or even triple. So it’s best to leave the feeders in place and continue feeding until late March or early April.
Feeding throughout the year
Recent studies have observed the harmful effects of annual feeding. First of all on the males. Too busy pecking in the gardens, the males started their nuptial songs later in the morning and missed their chances to found a family. The females, as for them, laid eggs earlier, in a smaller nest and incubated their young for less time. Finally, overly rich food such as fat loaves laid out in winter could prove fatal if the mothers fed them to their young in spring. Moreover, wild birds would lose their freedom to feed and become entirely dependent on human food distribution.
So what is the ideal time?
Thus, researchers still recommend to stop feeding wild birds at the end of March (spring and summer) and to start again at the first cold weather in October or November. A gradual transition should be started with a reduction of daily rations until the first week of April so that the birds can gently resume hunting.