When the last of the flowers start to fade, and the herbaceous perennials pack up and go underground for the winter, one thing that’s guaranteed to snap you out of the winter blues is a cast of colourful birds. So snap up some bird feeders from ACHICA this week, and bring your garden to life with a flurry of feathery friends.
To lure these winged beauties into your garden, simply set out a range of foods in suitable bird feeders, and sit back and wait for the show to start. I’m planning to do just that, and add to my repertoire with the bargains I’ve spied from ChapelWood, which is offering some fantastic deals on feeders that I know the birds will adore.
All kinds of tits, siskins and finches love sunflower seeds. You can offer these in any of the specialist seed feeders offered by ChapelWood, including the contemporary range (pictured above), which look great in a modern garden. Black sunflower seeds have thinner shells than the traditional striped types and are easier for birds to crack open, while sunflower hearts make the perfect meal and they produce no waste, and therefore no build-up of husks beneath the feeder. Many birds also like seed mixes, which are a combination of seeds and cereal grains, and these too can be offered in tubular and modern ceramic feeders.
Just like us, birds are fussy eaters, and different species like different types of food; they also like their meals presented in different ways. That’s why it’s best to buy a range of feeders and food to keep everyone happy and draw in the maximum number of birds. And if you have never fed birds before, October is a great time to start, as it gives them time to locate your feeders (birds can be a bit slow on the uptake sometimes) before winter sets in.
Keep birds happy and healthy
Before you start your feeding regime, check out these hygiene tips to keep your birds happy and healthy:
- Only put out sufficient food for a few days – it may start to go mouldy after this and infect your birds with diseases.
- Keep bird tables and surrounding areas clean and free from droppings or mouldy food.
- Clean and wash bird tables and hanging feeders regularly, using a 5% disinfectant solution. Rinse them well with tap water, and leave to dry completely before refilling.
- Wear gloves when cleaning feeders and tables, and use separate utensils for the job – do not use the same brushes you use to do the washing up. And always wash your hands when you've finished.
- Move your feeders to a new area every month to prevent a build-up of dropping and parasites underneath.
Who likes what?
Bird tables are perfect for many species of bird and hold most types of food. Those with a roof are ideal, as they prevent the food from getting wet and going mouldy.
Peanuts are a great source of fibre, oils, and protein and will attract the widest variety of garden birds, including some unusual ones, like this woodpecker. The only safe ways of offering nuts to birds is in a mesh feeder, which prevents them chocking on whole peanuts, and consider at least one feeder with an anti-squirrel cage that allows only small birds to enter. Buy good quality, unsalted peanuts for your birds, and store them in a cool, dry place.
Fat balls and bird cakes are a favourite of greenfinches, house sparrows and tits. Place them in a special wire feeder or hang them from a tree or bird table. Sultanas that have been soaked first, finely grated cheese and windfall apples, are perfect for blackbirds, particularly in the winter, while live foods, such as mealworms, will attract robins, blackbirds and wrens. These foods should be placed on a bird table or special ground feeder, which birds like blackbirds prefer. If possible remove excess food from ground feeding tables at night to prevent rats and vermin taking their pick. You can also buy specialist bird food that caters for specific species, such as robins, sparrows, and thrushes, so if you want to attract a particular type of bird, these will help to entice them.
And for young twitchers, plant a few of these funky little feeders around the garden. Kids will love the colourful designs as well as the beautiful birds that visit them.
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Zia Allaway, Garden Expert
View all posts by Zia Allaway, Garden Expert