Caring for Wild Birds in the Winter Months

The OSCAR Helpline is here with some handy tips to keep our feathered friends happy during winter months.

Created: 20/12/2017 Updated: 04/08/2021 - Shelley Audis-Riddell

Health & Wellbeing, small pet, winter advice

The winter months provide a perfect setting for bird watching. As leaves fall and frost covers the ground, birds can often be seen perched in the trees and on fences.

Winter can be a tough time for wild birds. Although they adapt for the change in the temperature, as the ground hardens, and the days become shorter, there is less time to forage and food becomes scarce. So, let us lend you a helping hand to make those wintry months easier for them!

Tips to help wild birds in winter

  • Wild birds become dependent on us once we start offering food, so remember to continue feeding throughout the year to help with food shortages as they arise, especially during the winter months.

  • During colder months, foods supplies are depleted, and water supplies can become frozen. Once wild birds learn you have feeders in your garden, they will return to feed from them, so it is very important to make sure the food is topped up daily and fresh water is put out for them.

  • Before buying bird food, take some time to observe the different species of birds in your garden. Make sure you are offering the right food for these birds, by referring to our feeder chart below.

  • Provide bird food with a mixture of different sized grains, seeds, fruits and insects. This helps birds to instinctively select what they need to supplement their diet which may not be available at certain times of the year.

  • Keep feeding stations clean and free from leftover seeds; this will reduce bacterial build-up and prevent unwanted guests such as mice and rats.

  • With wintry weather, ice, snow and rain can make it difficult for birds to feed. Introducing feeder tables and hanging feeders under shelter will help to protect the food and birds whilst feeding.

  • During icy spells, freshwater may not be available to wild birds. Ensuring water feeders and baths are flowing not only allows birds to drink from them but also to preen their feathers. Without regular preening, birds’ feathers become out of alignment and vital body heat is lost.

  • Creating a safe environment for birds will encourage more birds to come into your garden. Make sure you place feeding stations where they are at low risk from predators such as cats and sparrow hawks.

Understand what species of birds are feeding in your garden and what bird seed they need

Do you need further advice?

If you need any further advice, please contact the OSCAR Helpline Team on our freephone number 0800 195 8000 or email helpline@oscars.co.uk.