Never mind those billionaires blasting off into space. Spare a thought for the birds because they don’t just need our care when it’s cold - the summer months also bring feeding and watering challenges.
Let’s clear something up first. It’s a myth that feeding birds during the summer will make them too dependent on human handouts. Studies show that wild birds typically receive no more than 25 per cent of their daily food from feeders, and for many garden species, that number is even lower.
Plus longer days afford you a wider window of opportunity to spot them bobbing about on your bird table or birdbath because they’re in full plumage, and whose day isn’t made brighter by watching a bird frolicking in water.
Watering is perhaps the most important contribution you can make in your summer bird-care routine. Please remember to provide fresh, clean stuff for birds during the entire summer so that they're not spitting feathers - as well as able to take a daily bath.
Bird care in summer: adults and chicks
The poor wee birds find it as tough finding food during hot dry spells as well as when it’s frosty and food shortages can mean there’s not enough food to go around to feed themselves or their chicks. This could hamper their ability to survive if this happens at a time when young birds have just left the nest.
Many natural food sources like fruits, insects, and seeds are in more plentiful supply in summer, but the chicks of most garden birds rely on eating caterpillars and other invertebrates to develop properly whereas adult birds can eat supplementary foods, like sunflower seeds, freeing up the invertebrates for the chicks.
Nevertheless, adult birds can sometimes turn to supplementary food to feed their chicks, so careful consideration is needed when deciding on which food to put out for them. Birds also need a high protein feed during summer to support their development and assist with the moulting process.
Henry Bell Superior Seed Mix is the perfect food to care for birds in the summer as it contains whole wheat, red dari, kibbled maize, black sunflower, white millet, and soya oil. Greenfinches and chaffinches love sunflower seeds, whereas dunnocks and other finches prefer smaller seeds like millet.
Bird care in summer: keep it clean
Keep your bird tables, baths, and feeders clean. The Tom Chambers Baby Bedale Bird Table is a top-quality solid investment and easy to maintain.
Bird care in summer: favourite bird foods
Wholemeal bread is best for the birds. But please crumble it up or moisten it. Very dry bread needs a good soak in summer.
Cooked rice, pasta and potatoes
Starchy and tasty to birds large and small. Just make sure there’s nothing spicy in the mix.
Stale cakes and biscuits
The birds aren’t fussy and along with starch, these are packed with fat that energises them.
Wrens and robins love crumbled cheese. They might even smile when you say cheese if you’re snap-happy.
You can hang bacon rind, fat trimmed from chops or suet to attract birds into your garden or chop them into tiny slivers.
Windfalls, bruised apples and pears will make your back garden bird central, especially for blackbirds and thrushes. They’ll be your feathered friends for life.
The tit family, greenfinches, house sparrows, nuthatches, siskins and great spotted woodpeckers go nuts for peanuts. Put shelled nuts in meshed hangers (we’ve got a good range of them) while crushed-up nuts can be put out for robins and dunnocks (hedge sparrows). Please don’t use salted peanuts because they’ll cause the birds to dehydrate and always pulverise nuts so that baby birds don’t choke.
Tits go crazy for coconut. Drill two holes at one end of the coconut to drain the milk, saw it in half and hang it up. Please never give birds desiccated coconut because it swells up inside their wee stomachs.