Why are my bird feeders full?

Robin, Erithacus rubecula, on bird table in garden. Co. Durham. October.
Robin, Erithacus rubecula, on bird table in garden. Co. Durham. October.

Every winter millions of people start to put out extra food for garden birds. But gardens have been unusually quiet recently, leaving people worried as to why.

RSPB NI is reassuring people that unusually mild weather this November means that many birds are continuing to visit their usual food sources in the countryside and are not yet relying on garden feeders.

Amy Colvin from the charity said: “People love to see birds in their gardens all year round so it’s only natural they might be a little concerned that they are not seeing the numbers of birds they usually do this time of year.”

Numbers of birds typically start to rise at garden feeders during late autumn and early winter, but so far this year it would seem birds are finding plenty of food in the wider countryside and don’t need to depend on visiting gardens yet.

Mrs Colvin continued: “As the weather gets colder and food becomes scarcer the birds will start to visit feeders and will really appreciate the generosity of local people in making sure there will be a constant food supply available throughout the winter.

“Keeping your feeders, tables and bird baths topped-up when the cold weather arrives will make sure your garden visitors are well-fed and looked after, and it will also encourage them into your garden just in time for you to take part in the world’s biggest wildlife survey in January, the RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch.”

If you are unsure what to feed your birds in the winter, RSPB NI suggests calorie-rich foods like mixed seed, nyjer seed, fatballs, suet sprinkles, sunflower seed and good-quality peanuts, as well as kitchen scraps, like mild grated cheese, cooked rice and porridge oats.

The RSPB also stocks a range of bird foods and safe, high-quality feeders for your garden birds. All you need to do is visit www.rspb.org.uk/shop to find out more or shop online safe in the knowledge 100% of profits go to helping birds and wildlife.

RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch will take place over the weekend of January 30 and 31. Last year over 22,000 people took part in Northern Ireland, with house sparrows topping the poll. Visit www.rspb.org.uk/birdwatch to discover how you can get involved in 2016.

For more information on feeding birds during the winter as well as advice on how you can give nature a home to attract birds and other wildlife to your garden all year round, visit www.rspb.org.uk/homes