Bird feeders are a great addition to the garden all year round, both for birds and other wildlife alike. However, neglecting to feed animals the right kind of food and forgetting to clean this popular feature can quickly turn your bird feeder into a breeding ground for diseases and bacteria. Speaking exclusively to Express.co.uk, Eric Michels, head of pro at CJ Wildlife shared the “best way” to keep birds in your garden healthy throughout winter.
He said: “Feeding birds throughout winter is just as important as any other time of the year, however, this year food sources are scarce due to the hotter weather conditions in summer.
“Many crops are now growing ahead of their regular season, which could affect the survival of our feathered friends.
“But, the good news is that providing food for birds in your garden is simple and easy, with the help of a few items.”
Eric explained that keeping garden wildlife healthy starts with choosing the right food.
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He recommended choosing bird feed with a high-fat content to provide garden wildlife with a steady supply of energy.
The wildlife expert said: “Heading into the colder weather, birds need more fat to help them maintain their reserves, so feeding them high-calorie, protein-rich food such as fat balls, peanut cakes, suet logs and mealworms will provide them with the energy and strength they need to get through winter.
“Freezing weather conditions can solidify food sources like fat balls and suet logs, so breaking them up and leaving them out on a suitable surface will help ensure birds can access the tasty treat.”
If you do prefer buying a seed mix, the RPSB suggested choosing ones with large quantities of maize, sunflower seeds and peanut granules.
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Of course, keeping bird feeders stocked up can attract unwanted visitors as well as beneficial birds, though Eric explained that it is possible to get around this.
Choosing the right style of bird feeder for your garden is the easiest way to manage the types of animals found in your garden.
Eric said: “Blue Tits, Sparrows and Goldfinches prefer a hanging or wall-mounted feeder, while Robins, Blackbirds and Wrens prefer to rummage on flat surfaces so a table feeder is more ideal.
“Feeders with a guardian protector will enable smaller birds to feed without the threat of predators, or other wildlife such as squirrels stealing their food.”
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To minimise the risk of disease and control pests, keep the ground clear of fallen debris as much as possible.
Eric added that removing uneaten food is also essential to maintain the health of garden wildlife.
If you notice a constant surplus of bird feed in your garden, it may be worth reducing the amount you put outdoors.
The CJ Wildlife expert noted that slightly underfilling feeders is better than overdoing it, as you can adjust the amount accordingly if an influx of birds visit at once.
Eric said: “Keeping your bird feeders and water dishes clean is always essential, however, as bird flu is unfortunately on the rise, it’s even more critical we protect our feathered friends by cleaning bird tables, feeders and water bowls thoroughly to avoid spreading disease.
“Avoid using harsh chemical cleaners, as these could contain ingredients that would harm birds, and instead opt for a biological or natural cleaner.”
In most cases, mild dish soap and warm water are all you need to reduce odours and prevent the growth of harmful bacteria.
Cleaning your feeders roughly once a week should be sufficient to ward off nasty diseases.