Gifts for Bird Lovers & Nature lovers

Feeding the Birds in Autumn

Feeding the Birds in Autumn

People often wonder where their garden birds disappear to in the autumn. After the excitement of the summer months when birds are mating and breeding, things tend to go a little quiet. There are a number of reasons why birds are less visible at this time of year.

Firstly, at the end of summer birds usually have access to a wide range of foods, including berries and insects, which means they’re less reliant on garden bird feeders. Secondly, birds often seclude themselves from predators as they moult – the process by which they lose their old feathers and replace them with new ones – because they’re not as agile during this time.

However, it’s still important to leave food out for your garden visitors. Moulting uses up a lot of energy. And birds need to build up their fat stores ready to survive migration or a British winter. Here are a few tips for feeding the birds in autumn:

  • Leave a seed mix out for garden birds. Mixes containing flaked maize, peanuts and sunflower seeds provide high levels of fat, protein and nutrients.

  • Bird also love to eat leftovers, such as mild grated cheese, unsalted cooked rice and pasta. Fruit – as long as it isn’t too far past its best – is also popular.

  • You might not see as many birds at your bird feeders during the autumn. However, you can boost bird numbers in your garden by providing some of their other favourite foods. Plant berry-bearing trees and shrubs, such as rowan, ivy and juniper, and leave seed heads in your borders rather than clearing them away.  

  • Squirrels are particularly active in the autumn as they store up their larders for winter. Consider a caged bird feeder if squirrels regularly raid the bird food you leave in your garden.

  • Hot autumn days aren’t that uncommon. When feeding your garden birds in autumn, keep an eye on the weather. Homemade fat balls can turn rancid on warmer days. And your bird bath might need to be topped up.

  • Equally, unseasonably chilly autumn days require you to adapt the way you feed your birds. Defrost water sources if necessary. And provide food twice daily – in the morning and early afternoon – during severe cold snaps.

Feeding the birds in autumn is all about helping them through the moult and preparing them for cold winter months. With clever garden planting and a reliable supply of food in bird feeders, your garden birds will thrive through the autumn and beyond.  

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  • Nikki Boxwild