Keep on top of your feed­ers for healthy re­sults

Macclesfield Express - - THE LAUGHING BADGER - SEAN WOOD

WE should all be busy fill­ing our feed­ers reg­u­larly now, but this year has been un­usual and par­tic­u­larly mild for a long time, re­sult­ing in plenty of nat­u­ral food for birds and other an­i­mals to feed on. Their in­stinct is to use this nat­u­ral food source over the sup­ple­men­tary food we put out for them.

Some of you may have found that your feed­ers are al­ready be­ing reg­u­larly used and oth­ers are ap­par­ently be­ing shunned or used in­fre­quently by the odd pass­ing bird.

There is no right or wrong, it just de­pends on what the birds need in your area.

If you are find­ing that the birds are not us­ing your feed­ers much and the food is go­ing stale, dis­card the old food and give your feed­ers a good clean.

When you top them up only half fill them (this will save you money and the food won’t go to waste). How­ever, it will mean there is al­ways some food for the odd bird that is us­ing your feeder. When the weather changes there will also be food for when larger num­bers of birds come into your gar­den.

You’ll soon be able to see when the food is be­ing eaten, and then you can go back to fill­ing up your feed­ers again.

Once the nat­u­ral food starts to run out you should start to see more birds com­ing onto your feed­ers.

Dur­ing cold weather birds can lose up to 40 per cent of their weight overnight in just try­ing to keep warm.

A bird’s body clock works on day­light hours, so in the win­ter months we are given great op­por­tu­ni­ties to view the birds feed­ing at first light, which can be­come a bit of a feed­ing frenzy.

If you watch your gar­den birds reg­u­larly you’ll no­tice that they’ll come down to feed again in the late af­ter­noon, be­fore they go and find some­where to roost overnight.

Keep your nest­boxes up all year round, as they can give valu­able roost­ing sites for smaller birds and al­low them to get out of the worst of the weather, and that may en­cour­age them to nest in the box in the spring.

Food that’s high in en­ergy is fan­tas­tic for the birds in win­ter months; peanuts, any of the fat or suet based foods (you can put th­ese in hang­ing feed­ers but also on the ground), seed mixes that con­tain sun­flower seeds or hearts, meal­worms and fruit will all go down well.

If you can, try to feed at the same time ev­ery day, and keep your feed­ers topped up when you have lots of birds com­ing.

You can make up your own fat ball and cake mix us­ing lard and suet (you can use veg­e­tar­ian suet too). Have the lard and suet at room tem­per­a­ture in a mix­ing bowl, add in things like por­ridge oats (un­cooked), mild grated cheese, peanuts, sul­tanas, raisins and bird seed.

Mix it all to­gether and cre­ate fat balls or press the mix­ture into old yo­gurt pots (you can at­tach string to the pot be­fore you add the mix­ture so you can hang them up), or use shal­low dishes to cre­ate bird cake. Put them in the fridge to set, and when they are solid place them out­side.

Re­mem­ber not to feed turkey fat to your birds as it’s too soft and can get into their feath­ers, which can cause them prob­lems.

If you don’t want to do the ‘hands on’ suet cake mix, you can buy a va­ri­ety of suet based food and feed­ers for your gar­den birds from our web site or shops on our re­serves. Don’t for­get your nest­boxes, and fresh wa­ter for all the wildlife in your gar­den.

The Laugh­ing Bad­ger Gallery, 99 Platt Street, Pad­field, Glos­sop

●● The mild win­ter has meant that many of our gar­den birds have not needed as much sup­port

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