We all know by now that birds can survive without our help in the winter but studies have shown that birds with access to bird feeders in winter survive at higher rates than birds without access to supplementary food sources, it's the difference between the haves and the have-nots
With freezing temperatures and high falls of snow forecast for this week, access to natural food for the wild birds will be curtailed so your feeders may be essential for their survival and here are a few things that may make their days a little easier
Make sure the food is accessible and dry. Clear a place on the ground of snow where you can scatter seed for ground-feeders such as sparrows, blackbirds, thrushes, dunnocks, etc and erect a temporary windbreak from the worst of the wind and snow. This may give a little respite and on the sheltered side, the birds will be glad of a new, wind-free spot. Not all birds, however, may venture to your feeder, some prefer to skulk in the thickets, brambles and hedge bottoms. For these, scatter seed in sheltered places in your hedges and bushes.
Keep extra feeders for use in bad weather, extra-large-capacity if possible which means more birds can eat at one time, but it will also cut down on your trips outside to refill the feeders. Satellite feeders (ones that incorporate peanuts, seed and suet balls) are great for this. High-energy foods. such as suet gives the biggest energy boost to winter birds, and without enough energy to keep them going, many songbirds would not survive a cold winter night.
If you can get hold of mealworms they are a great idea for live food and where else are they going to get live food when the ground is frozen? A deep heavy dish and glazed is good as they can't climb the slick sides or a mesh tray but try to keep them dry.
If you have bird nest boxes (they shouldn't be using them for nesting at this stage but may be using them as night roosts) and you can gain easy access, put some dry material inside such as hay or wood shavings; it may make them a little snugger.
Remember they need fresh water. If there’s snow, birds can use the snow for water but if not they may have no access to water, I have glass tealight holders that push into the ground and are refreshed each time it rains but I fill in between.
The birds don’t have to live off of your feeder but it sure helps make winter living a little easier.
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