Do Wild Birds Need More Bird Food In Spring?

Spring is a time for sunshine, fresh new flowers, and hungry birds.

Do Wild Birds Need Feeding In Spring?

The simple answer is yes. With breeding season and nesting season underway, spring is the time when birds require high-energy diets to maintain their health, their young’s health, and their homes. This season means birds are building nests, defending their territories, and protecting their chicks, so lots of nutrients are essential.

When Is Best To Feed Wild Birds?

We must replace wild birds with the supplements found in food from the wild. During the winter months and early spring, wild birds face a food shortage, mostly due to weather conditions and so we can offer them the right food during these times.

Breeding Season

Spring, as with many other species, is the time that birds breed. The increase of birds should mean an increase in bird food! Make sure you are putting out the right foods during this period; seeds, mealworms and soft fruits so that there is plenty of food to go around.

Spring comes at a time when many birds are back from migrating, finding a mate, and building a home. And so it is a particular season that wild birds need fuel!

Top Tips For Feeding Wild Birds In Spring

  • Make sure your feeding table, birdbath, and bird feeder are clean. The warm weather and large amounts of birds could result in the spread of diseases.
  • Make sure there is plenty of water. Although natural sources of water will be in abundance, it is always a good idea to have water in your garden, especially if birds are nesting there. This gives birds a safe place not too far from their chicks to collect water.
  • Fresh food. The availability of fresh fruits and live prey doesn’t necessarily peak until the late summer months. Birds must stay topped up on the correct nutrients in the spring months.

You can read more about what birds need to eat in spring here.

What Wild Birds Can I Expect To See In Spring?

With it being at the end of the migrating season, spring attracts a lot of new bird breeds, with a lot of new favourites. Here are a few wild faces you could expect to see this spring:

  • Nutthatch – the nuthatch is a wild bird, that usually lives in forests and is a rare sight in gardens. Breeding for a nuthatch starts in late April and once the chicks are born, the parents take it in turns to collect food. Preparing its ideal meal of insects, seeds, and nuts – you could be lucky enough to spot one this Spring!

Found out more about the Nuthatch here.

nuthatch bird feeding
  • Robin – one of the easiest birds to spot in the UK and the friendly face of Christmas! These birds are most like to be spotted in spring! Not necessarily a ‘wild’ bird, but a very popular in spring! Found in gardens, this bird’s favourite snack is sunflower hearts. Its song is at its most powerful in spring, perhaps due to it being the mating season.

Find out more about the Robin here.

robin bird on branch
  • Goldfinch – a multi-coloured with distinctive patterns. These birds tend to travel quite far south in the winter months and so need a lot of energy! Its favourite snack is nyjer seeds, packed with protein and energy.

Find out more about the Goldfinch here.

goldfinch bird

Feeding Wild Birds In Spring

It is essential, after a tiring migration season that we provide wild birds with the correct nutrition to build their homes and start their families. By helping birds during a critical time, we can see lots of bird breeds grow and stay away from the red list!

Get In Touch

If you would like some advice on feeding wild birds in spring – let us know!

Give us a call on 01778 342665 or drop us a line at info@kennedywildbirdfood.co.uk.

Bird feeding stations are a great way to encourage wild birds to visit your garden and to support populations. There is a misconception that wild birds only need additional food over the winter months, and whilst it’s true that they can often find natural sources of food during the warmer months, wild birds benefit from extra food all year round. Birds need to build up an extra layer of fat under their skin to protect them from harsh weather and give them energy for flying longer distances and additional bird feed can help with that.

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Big Garden bird watch results 2022. The Big Garden Birdwatch helps monitor how garden birds are coping. The event requires people to set aside just an hour of their time to count the birds they see in their garden or local green space.

And the Big Garden Birdwatch results for 2022 are in!

Big Garden Birdwatch

In 1979, the first ever Big Garden Birdwatch took place. Now we have over 40 years of data to help us understand patterns.

This year, 697,735 people counted over 11 million birds. 11,556,046 birds to be exact. That’s a lot.

Big garden birdwatch results 2022

Here’s the run-down on the top 10 garden birds in the UK. And if you’re familiar with the Big Garden Birdwatch, you won’t be surprised at the number one result.

Top Place

For the past 18 years, House Sparrows have been the top of the list. And it’s no different this year.

For the 19th year, House Sparrows have been spotted the most in your gardens – 1,778,764 times. Even though they’re spotted the most, there’s far fewer Sparrows than they’re used to be. Since 1979, this result has dropped by more than 50%.

sparrow birds feeding on peanuts

Places 2-4

There were 1,178,156 Blue Tits seen in UK gardens this year, putting it in second place. The Blue Tit has retained its second place position for 2022.

Starlings, another bird that has remained in its position, was sighted 1,162,553 times.

Ever so common Woodpigeons have moved up one position for this year’s results. 1,041,709 Woodpigeons were seen.

wood pigeon bird

Places 5-7

They’ve slipped one spot in comparison to last year but Blackbirds are still ever so popular. 958,917 birds were counted from the results of the data.

The famous ‘Christmas’ bird Robins have been sighted 622,493 times. These beloved birds are remaining in the sixth position spot from last year in this year’s garden birdwatch. What sweet birds they are.

robin bird on branch
Robin bird on a tree branch

Lovely-coloured Goldfinches fly into seventh place with over 591 thousand sightings.

Places 8-9

And switching places with the Goldfinch this year is the Great Tit. This bird was seen over 587 thousand times this year and we can’t help but wonder where they went. Perhaps they had a better food source this year than our gardens.

This shiny-object-attracted bird is in 9th place, with 527,125 sightings. Magpies are yet another bird not only staying in the top 10 but staying in the same position as last year.

10th Place

402,236 Finally, in 10th place, we have cute little hoppers, Chaffinches. Chaffinches have actually climbed into the top 10 this year from their previous eleventh place position.

chaffinch bird female

Though they’ve risen into top 10, sightings are actually down almost 70% in comparison to 1979. And similar in trend, Great Tits have moved down a spot where their sightings have actually down the opposite.

The Big Garden Birdwatch is a great way to assess bird trends over the years. Not just RSPB but other wildlife organisations, too, have data that shows how the UK’s bird populations are changing. In fact, more species (15% of 8,431 assessed) are now at risk of extinction.

Take the number one on this list. House Sparrows may have the most sightings but they are actually on the UK’s Red List for birds. Declination in the population has led to this.

Further Action

Bird diets are changing now the further into Spring we get. Are you making the necessary alterations to bird food in your garden to support the change?

You can check out some Spring-Time bird food options here.

Bird food for spring. Natural food is scarce during the winter and early spring period so providing them with a food source will be beneficial.

It’s best to put bird feed out all year-round so they’ll always have a source of nutrition. Coming to the end of winter means you should change the bird food that’s out to something more appropriate.

So what bird food treats are specific to the season of spring?

What Can I Feed Birds In Spring?

In the early days of spring, birds will be around more and their behavioural patterns will adjust. They also require different nutritional needs for seasonal occurrences. Like breeding.

Water

Not technically food but perhaps the most important on this list.

Birds need water to clean and bathe as well as to drink. It’s important to always provide a hydration source for birds, especially more so in the warmer months. Throughout spring, hydration is essential for adult birds. They make few trips to provide for their nestling as well as themselves. Staying topped up on water will prevent dehydration.

water for birds

Fruit

Some nice treats further into spring may be cut up fruits. It’s okay to leave soft fruits around for birds, like bananas and grapes. They can eat dried fruits, too, such as sultanas and raisins. As long as you clean your feeding table to make sure the food stays in good condition.

Mealworms

Talk about a meal full of sustenance. At this time of the year, birds need a little more nourishment and dried mealworms offer exactly that. (Remember to also provide a water source with dried foods!)

They are also a good option to help birds avoid starvation. During the constant weather fluxes, the availability of natural foods can also flux. Wet weather can affect birds that eat insects and dry food can affect birds that eat earth insects, like worms. So having bird feed all year-round helps this. Especially when these occurrences happen.

Seeds

Sunflower seeds have many nutrients that are great for birds at this time of the year. And they are always a very popular choice by the birds.

To be all-inclusive, you should provide bird feed mixtures. This will attract a number of species who can all benefit from the bird food. You could consider seed mixtures without peanuts, and insect bird food mixtures for those insectivores.

What Should I Avoid Feeding Birds In Spring?

Some people have attempted to use soaked pet foods before, things like tinned cat food and dog food. This should be avoided. Putting out soaked pet food just attracts cats. And cats are a known predator of birds.

Though bread can sometimes offer nutritious value, not in spring. Adult birds feed what they can scavenge to their nestling.

You can put peanuts out as bird food. But, bigger peanuts should be in mesh feeders or small metal-wired feeders. Larger nut pieces pose choking hazards to young chicks. And even if you’re unsure about whether there’s baby birds, you can still do this. After all, it is the season of birth and new life so it’s likely that mothers will take bird food back to the nesting.

sparrow birds eating peanuts

Any fat balls you have will soften in the warmer weather so they’ll go rotten. It’s best to give bird feed in this situation as stale food will not provide any nutritional value to their diets.

Making sure there is extra bird food on your table, in the feeders, or out in your garden can really make all the difference. It can really help push the survival of the birds, as well as keep them healthy.

Birds appreciate food year-round as food shortages can occur at any time, according to the weather. In spring, bird behaviour is quite different as birds are moulting, searching for mates, building nests, and then later rearing young birds.

With that in mind, should you change your bird feed in the spring?

Changing Bird Feed In Spring

Everyone knows to feed birds in winter – cold weather means a shortage of natural foods, but did you know that temporary food shortages can happen at any time of the year? in the UK, spring weather can be unpredictable and have adverse effects on natural sources of bird food, especially insects such as worms and caterpillars.

So yes, although winter feeding is vital, many experts recommend feeding birds year-round to ensure there is always a food source should environmental factors impact bird feeding habits.

However, bird food should be adjusted in the spring to account for bird behaviour and what nutrition they need most at this time of year.

Because spring is a busy time, birds need protein. This is especially important when birds are moulting and preparing to lay eggs. In the wild, this is usually gained from insects, but you can assist birds by providing items such as mealworms. Robins especially love these! Mealworms can be fed dried or live – just ensure you provide a water source if you are feeding dried mealworms.

Another great high protein food, ideal for spring bird food is sunflower seeds. These are taken by most birds and are a great source of essential nutrients at this time of year.

Remember though it is always best to provide a mixture of bird feed so many species can benefit and to avoid overfeeding on a single type of food.

Are There Any Foods I Shouldn’t Feed In Spring?

Certain foods may not be suitable for spring. As the weather gets warmer fat balls can become an issue as they melt and become rancid faster. Fat balls are excellent for cold weather but don’t hold up so well in late spring and especially not in the heat of summer.

You should also avoid bird feed that doesn’t contain many nutrients like bread. Although bread can be useful at certain times of the year and is a great way to get rid of stale bread, spring is a time where birds need to access nutritious foods to rear chicks, so bread is best avoided. Buy a dedicated bird feed instead.

Do Chicks & Fledglings Eat Bird Food?

This is a question we see asked a lot – as birds build nests and go on to lay eggs and hatch chicks, you may notice birds are still taking food from feeders so might assume they are feeding this to their chicks. However, most birds will not take this type of food home to their nests – they will prioritise feeding their chicks with natural food sources such as insects and use the bird food you provide to refuel themselves.

Isn’t that clever? Although bird food is a great way to help birds with food shortages, they obviously know there is a difference between provided food and their natural diet (which in an ideal world would be the best diet for them to eat all the time)

That said, if a temporary food shortage occurs due to bad weather, birds may resort to taking food home from feeders to give to their chicks. For this reason, it is advised you don’t feed hard, large foods at this time of year. When faced with starvation, a bird will try to feed its chicks with anything it can find. This becomes an issue with large, hard foods that may cause choking.

So, to be on the safe side, provide smaller, easy to eat foods such as chopped sunflower hearts. Later in spring and summer, you may even see fledgelings and young birds coming to bird feeders with a parent to take advantage of these foods.