How to feed birds in winter and is this actually necessary

Every fall we often feel sad at the migration of birds to places where there are warm climates. They are driven away from their home because to the approaching cold and lack of food.


And among the snow and trees with the flown foliage, there are other birds who remain with us, pleasing the eye with their bright plumage. You will find amazing woodpeckers, naughty sparrows, fun-loving jays, crossbills, treecreepers, and, of course, beautiful titmouse who, along with bullfinches, already became a habitual symbol of a winter forest.

It seems that to these cheerful fidgets they will always find food no matter how cold it is. And meanwhile, according to ornithologists, everyone nine out of ten titmouses perish for hunger.

It is because birds are creatures that are warm-blooded, the average temperature of their body makes slightly more than 40 С degrees. To maintain such temperature in a cold winter season, birds need a bigger quantity of food.

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When the food doesn’t suffice, the system for thermal control of birds malfunction. Whether the titmouse will freeze in a frosty night, it depends on how much it is full, and whether will be able keep a tiny little body warm till the morning. Having ruffled up, the little bird spends the night, and with the approach of morning goes on difficult searches for food in bark of trees, under snow and ice.

If the titmouse finds a feeding trough where it is possible to obtain food, it gets a great chance to live till spring. Especially if it concerns the second half of winter when berries and fruits which have remained since fall was frozen or eaten.

If titmouses are able to find a forage in nature, they can go through warm winter more or less tolerably. But some birds like sparrows and pigeons are completely depend on people. Their native habitat are the subtropics, but they came to northern regions following a people.

Many not indifferent people help birds survive the winter by providing them food. And in old times in some villages, food are provided for partridges and other winter birds by leaving a few of untouched cereals on field. Thousands of bird’s lives are rescued, thanks to the care of humans.

However, like in any business, it’s required some skills to feed and shelter for winter birds without harming them.

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Is it possible to harm birds by feeding them? Yes, as ornithologists claim, it is possible. The wrong way of feeding can lead to diseases and even death of birds. But don’t abandon this noble idea, as its rules are very simple and clear even to a children. Following simple rules you will save a lot of birds and get so many advantages like the pleasure from communicating with cheerful and trustful creations.

How to correctly feed birds.

The word “extra nutrition” means that birds should be fed cautiously, without overfeeding. Birds have to receive from a feeding trough only a part of their daily diet; gathering other foods from nature. After all even in the winter food of titmouses are quite varied. They may eat the larvae of insects found in bark of trees, and seeds of different plants on the earth or snow. If birds are able to be satiated completely from a feeding trough, they will simply cease to look for other food.

Therefore optimum point for extra nutrition is the next one. Even if you are going to feed birds in the wood make a feeding trough. Its simplest option is a plate which has been hung up on a branch of a tree by a strong cord. Remember that food should not be blown off by wind, to the edges of a plate it is necessary to create sides. It is better to make a more difficult design with a cover to protect forages from rain and snow.

Some housekeepers prefer to decorate their houses with the original feeding troughs made of house utensils. Old stuff get new life and become decoration of house. Some people make absolutely simple feeding troughs of plastic bottles and milk packages.

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However it is necessary to make opening in a feeding trough is rather wide, and the feeding trough didn’t appear a trap for small titmouses. It is in any case better to make several simple platforms for a forage, rather than one intricate feeding trough.

If it is difficult to you to create a birds feeder you may buy one in pet-shops. You should buy original, strong and convenient feeding troughs. It is necessary to hang up it so that it is protected from snow and wind, it is better on South side of a tree. Hang it up as high as possible, so that the rodents not be able to reach it.

Feeding through behind a window is not the best option as it always becomes a garbage source for you and your neighbors. Besides, titmouses in search of a forage may be knocked over by glass and fly in an open window which may lead to their death. Therefore it is better to hang up feeding troughs on an edge of the nearest park or forest.

Doesn’t matter where the feeder is located, on your window or in the forest, you have to accustom birds that you will fill the feeder at certain times, once a day for example. It is better not to fill superfluous, a forage has to be so much that birds eat it at once. Birds will quickly get used to that in certain time they can be fed up, and all other day it is necessary to look elsewhere for livelihood.

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Certainly, the quantity and structure of a forage can be varied depending on weather: in frosty days to pour more food, and in warm days feed a little so that birds will look for food.

What products is NOT suitable for feeding birds?

Before discussing  what forage is preferable to birds, we will remember with what they can not be fed. Different birds have different food preferences: pigeons and sparrows love grain, titmouses prefer sunflower seeds, however there are certainly harmful products for any feathery. Birds, especially in cold and snow winters of year, will eat any forage to avoid death. Therefore you need to watch the quality of a forage that birds eat.

You must not feed birds any salty food, including salty sunflower seeds, croutons and salty fat. The digestive system of birds isn’t so perfect as a mammal. Salt will only accumulate in the bird’s system and will only lead to the bird’s death.

First of all this is any salty foods, including salted sunflower seeds, crackers, salty fat. The excretory system of birds is not as perfect as in mammals, it can not cope with the salt accumulating in the body of the birds and it leading to death.

Do not give birds fried food, like fried sunflower seeds which can lead to a serious illness of the liver. Millet categorically contraindicated for any birds. Also, do not feed little birds with black bread, especially fresh, which can lead to a strong fermentation and even volvulus.

So what is allowed?

This list is much longer than the stop-list, and in many respects depends on what birds are the most frequent guests of your feeding trough. Constant companions of people are pigeons and sparrows quite will accept grain: wheat or barley, sunflower seeds, grain. It is possible to pour a little bit crumbs.

If you feed up waterfowls, for example, wintering ducks, it is important to choose a forage which doesn’t sink. Grains in such situation won’t suffice and to the forefront there is white loaf bread that ducks love and eat with pleasure. Not fried sunflower seeds don’t sink in water too, and from time to time may help to diversify feeding.

The frequenters of feeding troughs are titmouses. They, unlike pigeons and sparrows, aren’t attached to people, and can quite get a forage without our help, nevertheless they’re always happy to get some feed. The most preferable food for them are not fried sunflower seeds, dry crumbs, and in frosty days a slice of unsalted fat or butter will support the titmouses.

Titmouses can be offered also hard-boiled egg gratings on a large grater, cottage cheese, very small slices of crude beef and even crude apple cuts with small slices. Near a feeding trough it is possible to hang up branches of a mountain ash or other edible berries for titmouses.

Birds quickly get used to a place where they are fed, and consider it their own. Houseowners should remember that titmouses whom you attracted will not leave you in the summer and will help to cope with caterpillars and other wreckers of fruit-trees. And in the winter they will start eating different insects nearby, attracting other titmouses in your garden. Over time these titmouses become your constant volunteer assistants.

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If the feeding trough is in the forest, don’t forget to put in it some nutlets, slices of dried fruits or cookies. You will surely find a squirrel visiting, they don’t refuse our help too.

For those who loves the nature, feeding of birds is a rest and refined pleasure. As it is pleasant to look at chirping cheerful little birds to whom you helped to survive this day. And if you accustom a child to such a business, it is better than any books to help him grow the kind and strong person.

At the same time, it is good when human kindness is combined with wisdom. Remember the words of clever Fox from the fairy tale “Little Prince”: “We are responsible for those who tamed”? Having started feeding up birds in the winder, do it till spring. Otherwise birds, having lost the habitual help, can die. How many of them long turns over places where they found food once…

Titmouses are very trustful and curious beings, and with pleasure they will sit down on your stretched palm. However this is not advised since it will only endanger the life of this tiny creation.

Let’s help the small beings by feeding them to live till spring!

A video about feeding titmouses may be seen here, it was recorded on a Nikon P510.

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  1. Tikky 12 January 2014 :

    I’ve read that specialists say that feeding birds can be harmful and even lead to their death. How is it possible if you are feeding them with seeds and bread?

  2. Rony 12 January 2014 :

    I don’t believe in this, because seeds can do no harm to the bird. I’m sure that if the bird is hungry it is better to feed it. I don’t believe that food can be harmful for them.

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