Birds need feeding all year round
Thursday, 17th September 2015
To all intents and purposes we're in autumn right now; leaves are on the ground and the sun no longer has his hat on - but what does this mean for birds? How does the emerging colder weather and reduced sunlight affect them?
The first obvious point is that there are fewer available hours for them to feed. We can do little to extend daylight, that's definitely out of our control; however, we can put out food earlier in the day and that will be a big help as the birds will be able to feed throughout the day.
Migration in autumn changes things in two main ways: the birds that migrate may benefit from a high-energy seed mix before their long journey; however, many of the migrating birds are unlikely to visit garden feeders and some of the more iconic migrators - such as Swallows and House Martins - will not feed on a bird table/feeder as they feed on the wing - catching invertebrates in mid-air.
The other side of migration for us to consider is winter visitors, the birds that will arrive from the north and east to overwinter in the UK, these include the winter thrushes; Fieldfares and Redwings. Whilst it's rare to see these birds consuming food served from a bird table, they can be seen in gardens - especially those with fallen fruits.
Autumn and winter can be summed up quite simply, though, in terms of what to feed as the main focus should be on high-energy, high-fat diets. This two pronged approach is used by successful garden birders throughout the UK and can be achieved in its simplest form by providing a high-energy seed mix (or sunflower hearts / peanuts) along with a good quality fat/suet product, like fat balls and suet pellets.
Providing these two key bird diets will help birds thrive when there's less natural food available and when the daylight hours are shorter.
Enjoy autumn - it's a great month for garden bird watching.
Written by Simon H. King