When should you feed wild birds?

Feeding Wild Birds

We shouldn’t only think about what to feed wild birds, but when to feed them too. Is there an ideal time of year to feed wild birds? Should we avoid feeding them during any specific months, or is there a set time of day when its best to feed?

If you can, it’s definitely a good idea to put food and water out for the birds year-round. There is no denying that winter feeding is the most beneficial as this is when food shortages are most likely to occur. Nevertheless, if you feed birds throughout the entire year, you are going to give them a much better chance of surviving the tough times in the colder months.

Autumn and Winter

Rooke’s recommends putting out both water and food on a regular basis. As the weather gets darker and a lot colder, put food out twice a day if you can i.e. during the morning and in the early afternoon (as birds tend to roost at sunset).

You also need to consider the type of food you are going to put out during the winter. Birds demand foods that are high in energy at this time of year to maintain their fat reserves and to help them survive the frosty nights.

The quantity of food provided should be adjusted to suit the demand. Once a feeding routine is established, try not to alter it, as the wild birds in your location will become used to the schedule. Do not allow uneaten foods to gather around the feeder as this can cause health issues to the birds that do eat it.

Spring and Summer

When feeding birds during the summer months, they are going to need sources that are high in protein, especially while they are moulting.

Some of the foods that are good to feed on at this time of year include waxworms, mealworms, mild grated cheese, currants, raisins, soaked sultanas, pinhead oatmeal and black sunflower seeds.

Some people use soaked cat or dog food which is perfectly fine, but you do risk attracting cats, crows and magpies.

Avoid bread, fat and peanuts as these can be harmful if the adult birds feed them to their nestlings. You should also try to avoid homemade fat balls as they can go rancid and soft during the warmer weather.

Natural food shortages

Should a food shortage happen when birds have their young in their nest (breeding season is February – August), they could be tempted by the leftover food on the bird table. If so, this food will be fed to adult birds initially, but if the situation gets grave enough, they will also take the food to their nest for their young chicks.

This is why you need to make sure you are very careful about the food you provide. If the food available is not suitable for the young chicks, it can end up causing a lot more harm than good.

We have a range of wild bird food at Rooke’s which you can find out more about here.

Of course, give us a call or pop in store to see us if you need any advice on how to keep birds well-fed and safe.