Winter: Ten Ways to Help Ireland’s Garden Birds

Winter: Ten Ways to Help Ireland’s Garden Birds

Winter can be a hard time for Ireland’s garden birds. The cold weather, the lack of food, and the struggle to keep warm can prove tough on the local wildlife. The good news is, there’s plenty of ways to help your birds fend off the freezing weather. From providing a reliable, energy filled food source to crafting a cosy nestbox, here are our top ten ways to help Irish garden birds during the cold snap.

1. Regular feeding schedule

Garden birds can often struggle to find food during the winter months when the ground has frozen over, so make sure to regularly refill your feeders as soon as they begin to get low. If weather is very bad, they may need to be refilled twice a day, as birds will need to refuel after snowy or icy conditions.

2. Feed energy-filled food

High energy foods such as sunflower hearts, mealworms, peanuts and nyjer seeds are a good choice for this time of year. As temperatures plummet, birds need all the energy they can get to make it through bad weather.

3. Provide a Variety

Aim to provide a variety of different bird seeds, nuts, grains and fats to attract lots more bird species to your garden. The more birds that can be helped during the winter, the better.

Blue tits (Cyanistes caeruleus) are a common sight on garden feeders in Winter. North Devon, UK.

4. Bird Baths

Birds need daily access to water to stay hydrated and to keep their feathers clean. Refresh the water every few days so it remains clean. When icy temperatures start to creep in, top up with some hot water each morning to keep ice at bay for an hour or so.

Top Tip: Bird bath freezing over? Float a ping-pong ball in it! Light breezes will make the ball float around, disturbing the surface of the water and making it less likely to freeze.

5. Keep Cats Inside

Predators like cats easily prey on bird visitors to your garden and can be a real threat when given the chance. Make sure your feeders are positioned high up, far away from places where the family cat or other neighbourhood cats could go lurking. Attach a bell to your cat’s collar that will alert any birds to its presence for extra security.

6. Furnish your Nest Boxes

A secure, weatherproof, safe nestbox would be much appreciated by your garden birds. Many birds use nestboxes to keep warm during the cold winter months. Provide some cosy furnishings for them such as dried grass or dry wood shavings in the bottom of the house for the birds to snuggle into.

robin eating food from the ground

7. Don’t Forget Ground Feeders

Species such as robins and dunnocks prefer to eat from the ground so make sure to leave food out for them on wire mesh, or on a low try, held just off the ground.

8. Remove left-over food

If there is leftover food in your feeders, it is not a good idea to leave it out as it can get mouldy, wet, spread disease and attract rodents. Refill your feeders regularly with fresh seeds.

9. Clean your feeders

Always clean out your feeders and keep them covered or so they don’t get wet from rain, or invest in weatherproof feeders. To clean your feeder, take it apart and load it into the dishwasher on a hot setting or hand wash with soap and boiling water or with a dilute bleach solution.

10. Don’t Expose Your Feeders

During the winter when winds are harsh and rain is frequent, keep your feeders in a bird-friendly, sheltered position; close to nearby bushes or trees so the birds can use these as a jumping-off point or take cover if threatened.

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