the best actions … and people to essentially keep away from!


In autumn-winter, low temperatures can be very harsh for wildlife, especially birds. With frost and snow, the lack of food resources can indeed be sorely felt, especially as insects, worms and berries no longer point the tip of their nose and therefore push these animals to focus on seeds. in this season. As a result, many of us take care of them through feeding. However, chicks are fragile, just like our ecosystems. It is therefore absolutely necessary to take precautions when you want to feed the birds in winter. Foods to be banned, good practices for the placement of feeders, etc. Find out everything there is to know to help them survive without ultimately hurting them.

Balls of fat, yes, but beware!

feed birds in winter with a ball of fat
Credits: iStock – Edit: ADGM

First of all, it is necessary ALWAYS remove the fillet from the fat balls you buy in the store. Otherwise, an unlucky bird could get a leg stuck in it and die of fatigue trying to break free. A spiral may otherwise be a good alternative option. In any case, do not hesitate to look at the composition of the food you give them. Palm fat often contains residues from the food industry and animal fat is not normally part of their diet. Vegetable fat would therefore be preferable.

The right foods to feed birds in winter

To feed the birds, it is better to favor local and organic foods, unsalted and unsweetened. Indeed, the more a food is raw and untreated, the closer it gets to what the bird is used to eating. It will therefore be better for his health, especially if it is not full of pesticides either. And above all, do not hesitate to diversify so that there is for all the different species (not all birds have the same needs).

In your feeders, you can slide:

– Tallow or other fat without salt or sugar
-Crushed oilseeds: here we avoid salted, roasted or spicy nuts in favor of peanuts, hazelnuts, almonds and plain walnuts
– Mixtures of unrefined seeds: cracked corn, wheat, oats, millet and black sunflower seeds
-Some insects
-Apples or pears

feed birds in winter bird feeder
Credit: iStock

Toxic foods to absolutely ban

Certain foods can make birds sick and therefore not suitable for feeding them. The digestive disorders can indeed be fatal for birds. In particular, they do not manage to eliminate the salt. This is why dry bread or food for dogs and cats (all very salty) are to be banned. In addition, bread lacks nutrients useful to birds, which can lead to malformations during their development. As for lactose-based foods (such as milk), they are particularly indigestible for them. Remember also that the raw rice is to be banned for all animalsbecause it swells in the stomach and can be very dangerous.

Other toxic foods are:
-Our leftover meals
-Viennoiseries, chocolate and sweet foods
-And dehydrated foods.

Install several small feeders to feed the birds in winter

A single large feeder will concentrate all the birds in a single point, and therefore promote competition. So, don’t hesitate to set up a small feeder or put several in different places if you see a lot of birds. The advantage of smaller cups is that it allow you to renew your food more often. They are also easier to clean more regularly. This last point is also important, as food can macerate and rot with rain and snow. Also, think about clean the feeders from time to time to eliminate the risk of fungi and mold that could make the birds sick. A little water and washing up liquid will do the trick here rather than chemicals!

feed birds in winter bird feeder
Credit: iStock

Manage the placement of feeders

Once the feeders are located, the birds will return to the same place daily and at regular times. To avoid wasting energy, avoid changing water and food points constantly. In addition, opt for a high point and clear to limit the risk of predation (cats, etc.). Ideally, spotting the prevailing wind to place the feeders back to it would be a big advantage. A higher point will also attract less unwanted rodents!

Also remember to give them water

During the winter season and until the end of the frosts, it can be difficult for birds to find water. It is therefore necessary to change the water very often in the bowl provided for this purpose and to maintain your water points. This allows the birds to drink, but also, and above all, to maintain their clean plumage. However, a well-maintained plumage will give them better protection against the cold! So it’s just as important as food.

An easy recipe for making your own fat balls:

Ingredients :

Margarine without salt (or butter without salt)
A mixture of bird seeds
Mold (e.g. cupcake mold, cleaned yogurt pot, etc.)

Step by step :

In a bowl, mix the softened margarine with the seeds to form a thick paste. Slide your mixture into your molds and tamp well. Then use a glass or metal straw or even a stick to make a hole in your ball of fat. This will allow a string to be slipped in so that it can be hung on a tree branch. Then leave everything in the freezer for 12 to 24 hours so that it has time to harden. And leave the other balls in the fridge to ensure their conservation while using them.

This recipe is inspired by Marie Wild’s video below:

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