How And What To Feed Birds In Winter – Three Main Rules And Other Useful Tips


Feathered wintering in the middle lane requires human support. However, the question of how to feed birds in winter is not so simple. The usual food “from the table” and even compound feed for chickens are not suitable for wild inhabitants of forests. Find out all about why it is so important to feed and not feed pichug, what you need and what you absolutely can not treat them with, what kind of food can be prepared in the summer. Check out diet recommendations for tits and sparrows, pigeons, and ducks so you don’t harm birds instead of being useful.

Why in winter time feathered need more food

Of the existing strategies for survival in the period of prolonged cold weather: to climb somewhere into a deep hole for hibernation, fly away from the extreme frost and actively resist hypothermia – the birds chose the last two. Moreover, the remaining wintering species are excellent evidence that cooling is not the main reason for their migrations.

How And What To Feed Birds In Winter - Three Main Rules And Other Useful Tips

Thick fluff and dense feathers provide sufficient protection for the body from heat loss, but are not able to create it. To maintain their high temperature, which reaches 42 degrees in some species, birds get their energy from food. At the same time, the lower the thermometer’s column, the more actively the atmosphere takes away heat, which means that more food is needed to replenish energy costs.

On the other hand, the winter day is shortened, and the birds at dusk cease their activity, therefore, they have much less time than in the summer to search for a sufficient amount of food. If the bird remains hungry, in the morning it will inevitably freeze to death.

How And What To Feed Birds In Winter - Three Main Rules And Other Useful Tips

Do all birds need help equally

Before you start collecting feed and hanging feeders, you need to find out exactly who needs an increase in "food allowance". According to the feed preferences of birds wintering in the middle latitudes, they can be divided into the following groups.

  1. Insectivores. The overwhelming majority of birds specializing in invertebrate feeding fly away, only those who can catch spiders, foot tails and larvae of various insects that have fallen asleep in the cracks of the tree bark are left. These are kings and pikas. It’s pointless to offer them millet and bread crumbs. Even if a pika joins a group of tits, she will do this not for the sake of expanding the diet, but for the greater safety that the flock provides.
  2. Nomadic lovers of soft fruits. These include blackbirds, waxwings and bullfinches. They prefer to pick berries directly from trees and shrubs; they rarely visit feeders. Bullfinches can sometimes enjoy sunflower, but after a week and a half they will continue their journey anyway.
  3. Nomadic granivorous. By winter, the seeds of plants such as burdock, thistle, highlander, birch, do not scatter, but remain on the shoots and attract goldfinches, siskins, oatmeal, greenfinches, tits and tapas. These birds from the order of passerines will visit feeders with pleasure, but, except for tits, they will prefer to see them outside the city limits. Conventionally, this group includes the nuthatch, which feeds on insects in the summer and passes to seeds in the winter.
  4. Synanthropes. So called birds and other animals that have adapted to humans to such an extent that they can no longer do without it. These are pigeons, sparrows and that part of the population of waterfowl that was fed in the fall and did not migrate to the south.
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How And What To Feed Birds In Winter - Three Main Rules And Other Useful Tips

There are two more species: crow and magpie – it is better to leave them to oneself. Helping these birds maintain numbers means creating unbearable conditions for nightingales, finches, and other singers, whose corvidae nests mercilessly ravage by eating eggs and chicks.

Three main rules for winter bird care

Setting up feeders is interfering with wildlife, like picking mushrooms or mowing grass. A man watches how the birds that are sweet to his heart are saturated, and thinks that he saved them from death. But he does not see what will happen next, as his actions will affect the birds themselves and the entire ecosystem. He does not suggest that he acts as a new factor in natural selection, moreover, the selection of the incredible, helping the weak to survive. “Do no harm” – this medical principle is laid down in three important rules for winter assistance to birds.

How And What To Feed Birds In Winter - Three Main Rules And Other Useful Tips

Paradoxical rule – birds cannot be fed

Feeding and feeding are completely different things. Feeding means that a person fully assumes the supply of birds with nutrients, as is the case with domestic and cellular species. A similar approach to wild birds poses two serious dangers.

The first is that, getting used to a gratis treat, the bird ceases to collect food on its own. Why bother: exhale cones, break the bark – if there is a mountain of food nearby. In this diet pichug greatly depleted. They choose the most delicious, for example, sunflower seeds, ignoring everything else. The intake of fats in the body increases, and vitamins – decreases, as a result, the bird has every chance just not to live until spring.

How And What To Feed Birds In Winter - Three Main Rules And Other Useful Tips

An example illustrating this state of affairs is the care of village hens. They are only fed, and they have the broadest possible search for a variety of natural foods, which is why they grow strong and healthy.

The second danger is expressed in the fact that birds quickly get used to eating from human hands and lose their skills in the operational search for pasture. If people suddenly abandon the feeders, their wards will in vain spend precious time on a short winter day to visit empty areas and may not have time to saturate the body with energy. Only 2-3 hours without food – and a frosty night ptache can not survive. This is why you cannot feed birds from time to time in winter.

Merciless Rule – Fill the Feeder Once a Day

An empty feeding trough most of the day is not a crime, but accustoming the birds to a certain feeding regimen, which will force them to devote a day to an independent search for food.

The conditioned reflexes in birds develop quickly. It is enough to pour 3-4 days of fertilizing at the same time, and the birds will remember it. When to do this depends on the person’s obligation and degree of employment. It is recommended that you feed for two hours before dusk, so that eaters are guaranteed to leave well-fed at night.

How And What To Feed Birds In Winter - Three Main Rules And Other Useful Tips

But if there is a chance that the feeder will be forgotten or left, for example, during the holidays, it is better to fill it in the morning: the birds will have a chance to have time to get enough before dark in another place.

Restrictive rule – what should not be in the trough

Of course, birds should not be fed spoiled, fermented, moldy dishes, but there is a large list of products that are familiar to humans, but harmful, and sometimes deadly for the feathered population. What can not feed the birds

  • Salted seeds, pistachios, crackers, lard, cookies. It is difficult for birds to remove excess salt from the body, since they do not have sweat glands. All the work falls on the kidneys, and they may not withstand the increased load. In addition, some salts are deposited in the joints, which disrupts the musculoskeletal system of the bird and causes severe pain.
  • Fried sunflower seeds and hazelnuts. Fats are a danger, from the excess of which the liver and pancreas, as well as the carcinogens of such foods, suffer.
  • Rye (black) bread. He very quickly begins to wander, often already in the bird’s goiter, making it difficult, and in some cases blocking his breath, as the goiter expanded from gases presses on the trachea.
  • Fresh wheat (white) bread. Can birds feed bread? It causes indigestion, because it turns into a sticky mass, which is hardly promoted through the digestive system.
  • Kernels (seeds) from the seeds of cherry, peach, apricot, as well as almonds. They are rich in hydrocyanic acid and even for humans their excessive consumption is fraught with poisoning.
  • Millet. Purified from membranous membranes, it is covered with fine bitter dust, which the housewives wash off with hot water before cooking. Especially dangerous is the old, rancid millet, on the surface of which there are oxidized fats.
  • Potatoes. Raw tubers contain the alkaloid solanine, which the bird needs a little bit for serious poisoning. Boiled potatoes can be considered as almost pure starch – the food is very heavy for the bird’s digestive system. The same applies to rice – feeding them birds is not worth it.
  • Mushrooms. These organisms actively accumulate heavy and radioactive metals; they can carry spores of clostridia causing botulism.
  • Canned food. In addition to the product itself, they contain vinegar, sugar, salt, spices, preservatives and flavorings, completely redundant in the bird’s diet.
  • Soft and granular food for cats and dogs, especially economy class. They contain soy, yeast, fat and attractants – taste enhancers designed to make the animal eat unnatural food for it.
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How And What To Feed Birds In Winter - Three Main Rules And Other Useful Tips

What feed to prepare yourself

The question of how to feed bluebirds in the winter, you can ask yourself in the summer and take as a rule, cutting a watermelon or melon, collect seeds, rinse them and dry. Pumpkin seeds, overripe squash, squash and cucumbers are also harvested. Birds of dried fruit like birds. They are made by stringing pieces of dried apples and pears, rose hips on a strong thread.

How And What To Feed Birds In Winter - Three Main Rules And Other Useful Tips

But collecting rowan, viburnum, seeds of birch, alder and weed grass is not worth it; it is better to leave them to wild birds for independent feeding.

Guests fly to the trough – it’s time to put up a treat

For most small birds, you can pre-compose grain mixtures and arrange them into packets at the rate of one packet per feeder per day. The basis of this mixture is, as a rule, seeds, to which, for a variety of diets, add oats, millet, as well as more expensive, but nutritionally valuable flaxseed, hempseed and canary seed.

Instead of oats, you can use hercules, but not instant, but one that is denser. Crushed wheat and barley (barley) will be appropriate. Some dry crumbs of wheat bread are acceptable.

How And What To Feed Birds In Winter - Three Main Rules And Other Useful Tips

Features of feeding of tits

Tits are the only birds for which an increased amount of fat is harmless, so for them the feed mixture may include unsalted lard, raw meat, cottage cheese, a tough egg and even frozen butter. To prevent other species from reaching the elite blue-table, feeders for these birds are made swinging, and pieces of bacon are simply hung on the branches of trees with twine.

It is useful to teach tits to take high-calorie fat not from the feeder, but from tree trunks. For this, the fat is melted, filled into a confectionery syringe and poured onto the bark. Of course, it is more convenient to do this if the dressing is organized near the house, otherwise the fat will freeze along the road. But such a treat will attract not only tits, but also a pika, nuthatch – lovers to look for food in the cracks of the bark.

How And What To Feed Birds In Winter - Three Main Rules And Other Useful Tips

For tits, you can cook the so-called bird cake. To do this, put slices of unsalted fat in a deep pan, melt and pour the following mixture:

  • sunflower seeds;
  • dense oatmeal;
  • watermelon and melon seeds;
  • pieces of dried fruit;
  • crushed nuts (walnuts, pinecones or hazelnuts).
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How And What To Feed Birds In Winter - Three Main Rules And Other Useful Tips

The mixture is evenly mixed and allowed to congeal. You can make several holes for the ropes in advance, for this 3-4 pencils are stuck in the still warm lard to the bottom of the pan. The frozen cake is taken out and suspended on a tree.

How to please sparrows, tapas and greenbacks

Finding how to feed sparrows and other small birds in winter is easy. The basis of the grain mix is ​​millet and oats. Barley and wheat are harsh for them, so it is better to offer them in crushed form. The seeds in the mixture should be less than half the volume, since many birds choose them and do not eat the rest, which depletes the vitamin composition of the feed.

Hard watermelon seeds are not suitable for sparrows, because, unlike tits, they are too lazy to grind them with their beaks. You can add pumpkin seeds, peeled from the shells and slightly crushed by a potato crush, to top dressing.

Calcium top dressing is recommended to keep the birds’ bones in a healthy state, and small pebbles are recommended for proper digestion. To do this, crushed egg shells or shells, pieces of school chalk or plaster, washed river sand are added to the usual mixture.

How And What To Feed Birds In Winter - Three Main Rules And Other Useful Tips

Feeders for small passerines are better to arrange a small size, but with a roof. Huge "restaurants" attract pigeons, and the roof will not allow the snowstorm to fill the grain. Although sparrows are smart, they cannot dig it out from under the snow.

Is it worth feeding wild pigeons

How to feed pigeons in winter and is it worth it? Due to its size, this bird easily swallows any grain: barley, wheat, oats, crushed corn – and is also more effective than passerines in digesting bread, even fresh. Barley is considered the most useful food for pigeons, but it will cost quite cheap if purchased from livestock farmers in rural areas.

It should be borne in mind that pigeons form large flocks in the city. Regular feeding attracts new birds and increases the survival rate of chicks, as a result of which the flocks become truly gigantic and begin to cause inconvenience to people. The area chosen for feeding, as well as the areas under the wires around it and even the windshields of cars parked near the cars, will quickly cover with droppings.

How And What To Feed Birds In Winter - Three Main Rules And Other Useful Tips

In some countries, for example, in Austria, a small but insulting penalty is provided for feeding pigeons. Local authorities believe that these "citizens" in relation to food should be left to their own devices so as not to increase the size of their population.

How to help "Gray Sheika" and other waterfowl

Of the anseriformes in the nonfreezing ponds of the middle lane, you can often find common mallard and swans, occasionally there are gogol, crested blacknet and other ducks. All of them belong to migratory birds, but they do not migrate for various reasons: they are well-fed, wounded, sick, too old for migrations, or, conversely, did not manage to change their chicks to adults.

Their natural food consists of underwater parts of plants and small invertebrates, which remain active in the water of various settlers and spillways, which are relatively warm for winter. But with an extreme drop in temperature, waterfowl, especially swans, need help. From top dressing, they can offer:

  • any sprouted grain;
  • finely chopped carrots and apples;
  • oatmeal with boiled vegetables;
  • leaves of chinese salad.

How And What To Feed Birds In Winter - Three Main Rules And Other Useful Tips

If swans hibernate systematically, then hay can be prepared for them in advance and a little thrown into the water. It will swell and be closest to their natural diet.

Winter top dressing is a noble cause, but requires careful attention. Even just pouring a handful of grain on the windowsill, a person affects the health of an individual and the condition of the gene pool of the whole species. Choose the right bird food, place and time of feeding – everything should be carefully thought out to avoid harm to wild birds.