Status: 02.12.2023, 11:52 a.m.
By: Ines Alms
Cold and frost reduce the food supply for birds, so supplemental feeding makes sense in winter. But you should choose suitable food and feeding places.
Despite sub-zero temperatures, birds have to maintain their body temperature of about 40 degrees Celsius. This is primarily achieved through feed, which is rather scarce in winter. Even if bird feeding does not reach all endangered species – around 90 percent of native breeding birds do not visit feeders at all – it is a support for many birds. In addition, the animals can be lured into the garden or onto the balcony and observed very well in this way.
Usually, they are fed from November to the end of February. When feeding, however, you should follow a few rules so as not to harm the peeping cats more than good.
1. The choice of the feeder
Food silos that are out of reach of cats are a better choice for birds than feeders. © Viewpoint/Imago
The State Association for the Protection of Birds advises feeding columns and feed silos. These are hygienic and the seeds do not get wet. If you still prefer the classic bird feeder, you should empty it regularly and clean it with hot water and gloves. Hygiene is the be-all and end-all. dumplings with plastic nets are taboo, as the animals can get tangled up in them. It is better to use homemade food dispensers made of cups.
2. The best location of the feed source
If you only feed in winter, you should set up the feeder in late autumn if possible to get the birds used to it. According to the German Nature and Biodiversity Conservation Association, the feeder should be placed in a place that is difficult for cats and other predators to reach. It is best not to be too far away from bushes (three to four metres apart), which offer the birds quick protection if necessary, for example from birds of prey. It is better to avoid the vicinity of windows so that the animals do not fly against them. Glass panes should therefore be at least two meters away.
If you feed on the ground, you can easily feed rats and mice. Falling food should therefore be removed immediately. However, blackbirds, hedgehogs and thrushes like to eat from the ground. If you want to offer them food there, the LBV advises to protect the food source from moisture, to put it overnight and to change the location again and again. There are also special ground feeding stations.
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3. Depending on the bird species: the right food
The principle here is: quality over quantity. As the LBV explains, the birds should only be offered as much food as they eat by the evening. It is best to make sure that the food mix offered does not contain any cereals – this is of no interest to birds, instead it attracts rats and mice. Almost all bird species, on the other hand, eat sunflower seeds.
Soft food eaters such as starlings, blackbirds, thrushes, robins and honeysuckles are happy to eat apples, raisins, cereal flakes or mealworms.
Finches, sparrows and goldfinches, on the other hand, are grain eaters and prefer grain mixtures, peanut curds and hemp or poppy seeds. Woodpeckers, nuthatches and also like to eat fatty food and mealworms.