Help wintering birds in Britain


This video from the USA is called Bird Feeding in Winter.

From Wildlife Extra:

‘Feed the birds’ plea as natural feed sources dwindle for the winter

BSA issues plea for kind people everywhere to help garden birds through the winter

November 2012. The Birdcare Standards Association – the only UK organisation to provide standards for the quality of birdfeed and accessories sold in the UK – has issued a plea to garden bird lovers across the country to feed the birds this winter – starting now.

Atrocious wet weather

Most garden birds supplement the majority of their naturally occurring feed stuffs with the seed mixes and fatballs and other products put out in gardens by kind homeowners across the UK – but this year they will be even more reliant on the scraps and the quality birdfeed put out for them due to the atrocious and wet weather we’ve experienced this year.

“The very wet weather particularly in the spring has caused major problems for many garden birds naturally occurring food and many bushes that carry berries that birds eat in the very cold weather have already been stripped before the end of November, highlighting the difficult situation they will experience when the really cold weather comes along,” says Birdcare Standards Association CEO Steve Paddock. “Sadly we lose a lot of garden birds during the winter anyway and if we are not to see that number getting even higher over the next few weeks, we need to offer them help in the form of some good quality, nutritious feed products that they can get hold of easily in our gardens. We recommend using products that carry the BSA logo because they meet our standards for quality and we know that the birds will benefit from the feed they eat.”

Poor quality feed

Sadly in these difficult economic times, many manufacturers of garden bird seed based products have had to reduce the quality of their recipes as the commodities usually found in garden bird feed products have gone up in price in the same way that many foods for humans have. Peanuts, sunflowers as well as many seeds included in birdfeed have rocketed in price in recent months. Some other mixes were not very good quality anyway and the danger with buying poor quality bird feed is that the birds – not being stupid – will simply throw the stuff they don’t eat away, to get to the bits that they will eat. This can see pigeons and magpies (Wildlife Extra questions what’s wrong with pigeons and magpies? Magpies are one of the most striking of all British birds, but continually get a bad press) or worse, rats taking advantage of the bits that the smaller song birds won’t eat that accumulate under bird tables and feeders.

“Sadly some bird feed products contain ingredients the birds won’t eat anyway, simply to swell the packs out and add weight to them,” says Steve Paddock. “If you find a very cheap birdfeed, it’s probably because the birds won’t eat it! We at the BSA think that the very least a bird deserves is that the feed it finds in the feeders will give it more energy than the energy it’s used flying to the feeder – otherwise there’s not a lot of point to it. We appreciate that times are tough financially but we would encourage people to buy quality feed products – a small bag of high quality feed will often provide more nourishment for garden birds than a large bag of cheap food.”

Banned feeds

Amongst the ingredients that the BSA outlaws under its standards which can be seen at www.birdcare.org.uk, are lentils, dried rice, split peas, even dried and extruded dog biscuit, whole maize, and barley. These are often added to mixes to add colour – making them attractive to the eye of unsuspecting humans but of no value at all to birds. The idea that garden birds will eat dog biscuits is a worry but they are pink, yellow or brown usually and can look attractive through the packaging sometimes.

Fresh water

In addition to a plea for people to feed the birds and help them through what will be a very tough winter, the BSA is asking people to ensure that there is a plentiful supply of fresh water available. “We’re making a plea to people in the UK to keep their bird baths topped up with clean water all through the winter,” continues Steve Paddock.

“If we get hard frosts, supplies of water to which birds have access can be impossible to use and make life very difficult for them. Many birds, particularly the smaller ones, only need to lose about 10% of their body’s water content to die from dehydration, so it is vital they have a reliable source of clean, fresh water from which to drink.

He continued: “Bird baths are very important to garden birds. They all need to drink regularly all year round, and at this time, it’s more important than ever to keep the water supply for the birds topped up and any surface ice broken and removed so the birds can get to it. Most birds are also enthusiastic bathers. Birds depend on their feathers for warmth and insulation in the winter as well as flight, so regular feather care is vital.”

9 thoughts on “Help wintering birds in Britain

  1. Yes, feeding your garden birds is very important and besides having the pleasure of watching the many beautiful species which feed, one gets a warm satisfaction in the knowledge that they’ve had a good meal – it’s a good feeling! Cheers SN

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      • Absolutely, anywhere one can hang a feeder, I’ve seen blue tits on feeders which have just been attached somehow and hung out of the window of a first story flat. Any help is appreciated by the birds. SN

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          • Yes, there is a limit I suppose where feeding would become ineffectual, I was only thinking of where birds are active,say up to tree height which can be just over the first story, it true that seed eating birds would not go much beyond this. SN

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              • Hi Kitty, sorry for the delayed reply but I had to rush off to see my brother. That’s great about the second balcony bird visits, I love wood pigeons and aren’t they much bigger than rock doves when up close! They have beautiful colours and I enjoyed them visiting my bird table (that is before we had to move home), I miss them. I just also wanted to mention that in our small back garden which we had, I once had 27 collared doves feeding at once, it was a great treat. All the best, SN

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