Feeding birds in summer is a wonderful way to bring your garden alive with the many species of birds that inhabit our shores or pass through. Watching birds is a mindful pursuit and can do much to relieve stress, while for children, it is an education about the life we share with our planet.
There is a common misconception that birds do not need us to feed them in the summer. It is a myth, as they require a rich mix of summer bird food to help raise their chicks. By providing this food source, we are not lessening the bird life’s natural instincts. Instead, we are countering some of the damage we have done by covering so much of the land in concrete and tarmac.
Here we offer some tips on what you can offer the birds to help them through the summer months.
1. The right food
Knowing what to feed birds is one of the most important lessons you can learn. Birds who are caring for their young require food with higher protein contents. Therefore, black sunflower seeds, soaked sultanas, raisins and currants, mealworms, grated cheese, and some soft fruits such as bananas are all great options. There are summer bird food mixes available from stockists, and this will offer the perfect mix of ingredients for your bird table.
2. Keep the feeders clean.
Any food you leave out has a higher chance of becoming rancid in the heat. Therefore, the bird feeders can become a place where diseases are spread. To help maintain healthy wildlife in your area, you must ensure you dispose of rotted food and clean the feeders before refilling them.
3. Avoid foods dangerous to chicks.
Certain bird favourites are not ideal for feeding young birds. While the parent birds are discerning about what they take back to the nest, they may resort to taking some bulkier foods from your table when times get desperate. Consequently, do not put out peanuts, peanut butter, suet balls, fat bars or bread.
4. Put feeders away at night.
Bird feeders are not only attractive to our feathered friends. They can also entice pests into your garden. Therefore, you may want to secure them away overnight to avoid rats, mice, and squirrels.
5. Leave small amounts of food at a time.
Another way to avoid food spoiling and causing illness, as well as a way of avoiding pests, is only to put out small amounts at a time. At the same time, we can let the feeder overflow in the winter months, a small amount each morning will be more successful during the hotter days.
6. Keep the feeders in the shade.
When feeding birds in summer, it’s important to keep the feeder out of the direct sunlight as this will be more attractive to passing birds. It will also help keep the food fresher for longer.
7. Open feeders are best.
If it rains, you want your feeders to be open, as it will allow the seed mix to dry out quickly and still provide a meal for a massing flock. Seeds that remain wet for long periods will obviously rot much more quickly. Therefore, this is another way to avoid spoiled seeds.
8. Stay away from windows.
As tempting as it is to put your birdfeeder close to your kitchen window as possible, it is dangerous to the birds. While you get a perfect view of your visitors, they may not be able to recognise that there is a glass barrier there. It could result in bird injuries as they fly into your windows. Therefore, placing the feeders carefully to help avoid this is essential.
9. Don’t forget the water.
More important than food at this time of year is a plentiful supply of fresh water. There is nothing better for a wildlife garden than a pond. However, if you can’t maintain a pond, you might want to purchase a bird bath and keep this topped up.
Remember that one of the consequences of our excessive water use is low water levels in local rivers and other water sources. Therefore, we need to do what we can to replace these with water supplies in our gardens.
Doing what we can for our bird population is a great endeavour. It is needed in the summertime as much as in the short winter days. Here we offer some insight into how to do this in the birds’ best interest and so you can enjoy those wonderful visitors to your garden.
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