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Feeding garden birds in Autumn


While most people associate bird feeding with winter, it is often recommended to start early in autumn so the birds will get use to the feeders and get extra energy and fat reserves in advance.

As autumn arrives in Ireland, it brings about changes in the behaviour and dietary needs of wild birds. Once temperatures drop, birds start to prepare for the colder months. As humans dramatically changed and continuously affect the natural landscape (habitat loss, hedgerow cutting etc.) the natural food like berries and seeds is not sufficient to sustain the bird population, therefore supplementing with bird feeds will greatly improve birds chances of survival over the winter months.




Favourite feeds of Irish birds:


High-Energy Seeds mixes:

  • During autumn, birds require extra energy to fuel migration or to prepare for the winter by taking on fat reserves. Consider providing high-energy seeds such as High Energy, no mess 12 seed mix or High Energy Wild Bird Food mix that contains sunflower hearts, hempseed, and nyjer seeds. These seeds are rich in fats and oils, providing the necessary calories for birds to stay warm and maintain their energy levels. These are suitable for wide range of birds from house sparrows and starlings, to finch family as goldfinch, chaffinch and greenfinch.


Peanuts:

  • Peanuts are an excellent source of protein and fat for birds, favourite staple of blue and great tits and starlings. Ensure you use a mesh feeder for peanuts to prevent choking hazards, especially for fledglings. Be cautious with salted or flavored peanuts, as these can be harmful to birds.


Suet:

  • Suet is a valuable food source in colder weather. It is a high-energy food that helps birds maintain body temperature. Consider putting out suet cakes, suet balls, suet pellets or blocks. You can also make your own suet mix by combining suet with seeds, dried fruits, or mealworms.


Mealworms:

  • Mealworms are a favorite among many bird species, including robins, blue tits, and blackbirds. They are an excellent source of protein and can be provided in feeders or scattered on bird tables. Dried mealworms are readily available as part of seed mixes such High Energy Robin & Songbird Mix or as ingredient in Peanut & Mealworm Suet Pellets.


Fruits:

  • Autumn is a season of abundant fruits, and many birds enjoy feasting on them. Offer sliced apples, pears, and berries to attract species like blackbirds, thrushes, and waxwings. Ensure the fruits are fresh and free from any pesticides. Dried fruits in seed mix High Energy Robin & Songbird Mix are also highly desirable by birds.



Also to consider:


Water:

  • Providing fresh water is essential, even in cooler weather. Birds need water for drinking and bathing. Ensure the water source remains unfrozen, either by using a bird bath heater or by regularly replacing the water. A bird bath can attract a variety of species to your garden.


Cleanliness:

  • Keep bird feeders and feeding areas clean to prevent the spread of diseases. Regularly remove any leftover food, clean feeders, and wash water containers. This practice is especially important during the autumn months when birds are more vulnerable to illnesses.


By providing a diverse and nutritious array of foods, you can support the health and well-being of Irish birds during the autumn months. Not only does this practice benefit the birds, but it also offers gardeners and bird enthusiasts the opportunity to witness a variety of species preparing for the changing seasons.

Happy gardening


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