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Introduction: Nurturing Nature
As winter blankets our surroundings in a chilly embrace, our feathered friends in the garden face a challenging time finding enough food and water. Providing nourishment for birds during these colder months is not just a kind gesture; it plays a crucial role in supporting their survival and maintaining the delicate balance of our ecosystem.

1. Why Feed Birds in Winter:

a. Limited Natural Food Sources:
Winter strips trees and bushes of their foliage, leaving birds with fewer natural sources of food. Insects and berries become scarce, making it challenging to find the energy they need to stay warm and healthy.

b. Maintaining Body Temperature:
Birds burn more calories in winter to regulate their body temperature. By offering them supplemental food, we help them conserve energy and withstand the cold more effectively.

c. Supporting Migratory Birds:
For many bird species, winter means migration to warmer regions. Providing a reliable food source in your garden can be a crucial pitstop for these travellers, aiding them in their long and strenuous journeys.

2. What to Feed Birds:

a. Nutrient-Rich Seeds:
Opt for high-energy seeds such as sunflower seeds, nyjer seeds, and millet. These seeds provide essential fats and proteins, offering birds the sustenance they need to endure the winter months.

b. Suet and Nuts:
Suet, a mixture of fat and other ingredients, is an excellent energy source for birds. Nuts, like peanuts and almonds, provide additional proteins and healthy fats. Be sure to choose unsalted varieties.

c. Fruits and Berries:
Fresh fruits like apples and berries can be a tasty and nutritious treat. However, avoid giving birds fruits that are too hard to consume in cold temperatures.

d. Avoid Processed Foods:
Steer clear of offering processed or salty foods, which can harm birds. Additionally, never provide them with bread, as it lacks the essential nutrients they need.


3. Importance of Water:

a. Hydration is Key:
Water is just as vital in winter as it is in summer. Birds need to stay hydrated, and having access to water helps them maintain their overall health.

b. Preventing Dehydration:
In cold temperatures, natural water sources can freeze, leaving birds without a reliable drinking source. Ensure that you provide fresh water regularly and use heated birdbaths to prevent freezing.

c. Encouraging Bathing:
Birds also benefit from bathing in winter. It helps them keep their feathers clean, which is crucial for insulation and staying warm.

4. Dealing with Frozen Water:

a. Regular Checks:
Make it a habit to check water sources regularly for freezing. Break the ice and refill the water to ensure birds have access to the liquid.

b. Heated Birdbaths:
Investing in heated birdbaths is an effective way to provide birds with a constant source of water during freezing temperatures.

By understanding the nutritional needs of birds during winter and taking simple steps to provide food and water, we contribute to the well-being of our avian neighbours. Small acts of kindness in our gardens can have a significant impact on the survival and thriving of bird populations, making our outdoor spaces a haven for nature even in the coldest months.