Should we feed our garden birds throughout the year and not just in winter?
Yes, is the quick answer!
But, here's the longer more detailed answer...
Food shortages can occur at any time of the year for our wildlife, but, more so in winter. What food we put down for our birds should vary depending on the time of year.
Autumn and Winter - our garden birds need a higher fat based feed in the winter to help them keep their own fat reserves high to keep warm. So food options like fat balls, sunflower hearts and small seeds like nyjer seeds are all good. If you use peanuts, make sure they are in a mesh feeder, so that they have to peck at them, rather than taking a full peanut, which can be dangerous for them! Putting food out at a consistent time is helpful as the regular birds will get to know when to visit your garden, so if they do get food shortages in bad weather, they will know where to find a good supply.
Spring and Summer - birds require higher protein foods, especially when moulting. Avoid putting out lots of bread and go for some more nutritious options such as chopped apples, pears, grapes or soaked raisins. Sunflower hearts are still a good option. Keep an eye on fat balls, some commercial ones can be used all year, but the fat may go rancid. Dig over any soil in your garden to allow the birds to forage worms and bugs!
The fat balls that come in Green Living Party Bags are plastic free - they don't have any netting around them. They can be placed on a bird table or used in the mesh feeders and are suitable for year round use. They will appeal to a wide range of garden birds such as blue tits, great tits, robins, finches, starlings and sparrows. They do not contain peanuts, but maybe made in an area that uses peanuts.
Then later on in the year, once your giant sunflowers have grown (up to 3 meters!!) and flowered, the flower heads themselves can be left to go to seed for the birds to peck the seeds from.
Some extra tips -
First time blogger! 5 minute reads on creating wildlife friendly habitats around us.