Last updated on January 19, 2020
In winter, especially in frost and snow, our native wild birds find hardly enough food in nature. Animal lovers can support the feather carriers with animal-appropriate feed.
On the one hand, the food shortage is due to intensified agriculture, in which huge quantities of pesticides are used and perfected harvesting machines also collect the last remaining grain of grain from the field. Shrubs and hedges only disturb the large agricultural areas and are cut down. But also in allotments, the feather-carriers find less and less food.
Natural gardens, in which stems, flower residues and fruit stands with seeds as well as numerous insects that hibernate in dead plant parts or rice heaps, provide food, are rare.
Feeding the birds makes sense, especially if the ground is frozen for a long time or if there is a closed snow cover. However, it is essential to feed in the right place, at the right time and with suitable food. Inappropriate feeding harms the animals more than it helps them.
Grain eaters and soft food eaters
When feeding birds, it should be noted that the different bird species place different demands on their feed. The birds that hibernate with us are divided into grain-eaters and soft-food-eaters.
They should be offered sunflower seeds and hemp seeds. Grains such as wheat or oats are also suitable for winter feeding, as are poppies, flaxseeds, and crushed peanuts. In addition to the grain food, the animals can be offered greasy oatmeal.
The soft-food-eaters, which include blackbirds, robin and fence king, are more specialized in berries and fruit. Elderberries, berries of the boar ash (bird berries), the luster, the wild wine, and the hawthorn, can collect and dry bird lovers in autumn. Soft-food eaters also like acorns and dried insect larvae.
Small-cut fruit should only be laid out in small quantities in winter. It can freeze and spoil quickly and then be harmful to the animals. It is better to feed dried fruit or fresh, whole apples and pears from which the birds can pick pieces. Kleiber, woodpecker, and zeisig eat both grains and soft food and can, therefore, take advantage of a wider range of food. Bread should never be fed as it swells up in the stomach of the animals. Even leftover food is not suitable for birds simply because of the spices, preservatives and flavor enhancers.
Separate feeding points
In order to prevent grain and soft feed eaters from entering the “enclosure”, it makes sense to set up separate feeding places for them. It is also advisable to provide several small feeding sites for which the birds can be distributed. For the soft-food-eaters are suitable covered, wind- and snow-protected places under trees or bushes. The animals should be able to look freely in all directions in order to discover approaching enemies in time. Better still are feeder houses, which hang freely on a branch. For the purpose of hiding and as an approach base, several trees should be located in the immediate vicinity. Grain eaters can be offered their food in a feeding house. It is best to feed in small quantities regularly in the morning and in the afternoon. Any leftover food should be removed.
Hygiene is important
Contaminated birdhouses can be breeding grounds for parasites and disease carriers. They should, therefore, be swept dry daily and scrubbed with boiling hot water once a week. Feeding points must also be kept clean.
Water is indispensable
Since the designed food is usually very dry, the birds need a lot of water. But this is often difficult to reach in winter. It is therefore essential to provide the animals with bowls with drinking water and also bathing water. In the case of frost, care must be taken to ensure that the water does not freeze.
The quality should be right
In addition to the appropriate food, the quality of the food is also important. Seed shops, zoo shops, and supermarkets offer prefabricated food blends, feeding rings, and dumplings for our native birds. When purchasing, make sure that the feed contains no fillers and is not stretched with sand. As bird feed is only limited in its shelf life, attention should also be paid to the best-before date.