365 (Year Round Feeding)
It’s important to provide food for the birds throughout the year. Although the need for food during icy weather is obvious, wild birds lead very busy, challenging lives and rarely enjoy times of plenty. By putting out food all year round we help birds to recover from the winter and get into breeding condition sooner, and having food available prevents the adult birds from competing with their young for limited supplies of natural food. For more information on the benefits of supplementary feeding click here.
A regular supply of supplementary food compensates for local food shortages, such as those caused by a food source being mown (for example thistles or a field of wild flowers) or eaten by lots of other birds, and also provides a reliable food source for young birds as they learn how to forage for themselves, possibly increasing overall survival. For some species year-round feeding may even help birds to fit an extra breeding attempt into the year. If supplementary food is available birds such as House Sparrows may nest earlier, fledge chicks over a shorter period and continue to breed for longer.
Adding live or dried mealworms to the range of foods offered can help birds such as Blackbirds and Song Thrushes, particularly during dry weather when earthworms are hard to find, and many other species will also benefit from them. It’s well known that a few live mealworms in the hand is the best way to make friends with a Robin, but not so many people are aware that House Sparrows need lots of live food during the breeding season. One study found that 55% more young were fledged when the adults had unlimited access to mealworms.