Winter time’s a double whammy for garden birds. As temperatures fall, birds have to burn lots more calories to stay warm. And to make matters worse, it’s the very time that natural stocks of seeds, berries and insects dwindle to almost nothing.
The amount of food that a bird needs each day depends on several factors, from ambient temperature to the ease of finding food. Smaller birds have been shown to spend up to 85% of the day searching for food and feeding. During winter a blue tit will consume up to a third of its own body weight just to get it through one freezing cold night.
This is the time when every calorie really counts. With daylight hours at their shortest, there’s less time for birds to forage. And that’s why you can do birds a big favour by offering them the highest energy foods that make every feeding trip worthwhile.
In autumn, many birds start carbo-loading to put on winter weight and restock fat reserves. This is really useful if you’re migrating many thousands of miles to Africa. And it’s the reason why many otherwise insectivorous warblers will switch from bugs to berries in the autumn.
Birds’ needs vary by species, location and time of year, so it’s always a good idea to offer a variety of foods and see what goes down best. Alongside seed blends, mealworms and suet offer our rich, high-protein Flutter Butter. And don’t forget – always offer a side serving of fresh water, even in mid-winter.