Winter and early spring is the best time to feed birds, especially during cold snaps, when their natural food supplies are low. Like us, different species eat different things, so choosing bird feeders for different food types, from seeds and peanuts to fat balls, will attract a wider range of birds from tits to robins. Birds also like some of our food such as apples and pears, fruitcake, dried fruit, grated mild cheese and uncooked and unsalted bacon rind. Here are some feeders to consider:
Window bird feeders - These plastic feeders that fix to window glass with suction cups allow a close-up view of birds and are ideal if you don’t have a garden. The Meripac feeder has three suction cups so it can easily be moved around and the simple design is open on three sides, making it accessible to birds of all sizes.
Hanging feeders - These are ideal to hang from a tree or stand. As well as the usual plastic or metal seed feeders, there are some pretty designs out there such as Sophie Conran’s hanging Ceramic Pomegranate-shaped Bird Feeder, which is open at the sides for easy seed filling. Look out for feeders that keep seeds dry and are easy to clean. Peanut feeders have mesh small enough to stop large pieces of nut getting through, whereas suet feeders are made from a wide metal mesh which holds the suet, and gives birds something to cling to while feeding. All-in-one feeders, with space for different kinds of food, will attract a wider and birds and, if space allows, feeding stations benefit from a place for providing water as well as brackets for various feeders. These are held on a single pole, which can be pushed into the grass and greased to deter squirrels.
Trays and tables - Bird tables with a roof offer more protection from the weather and bird droppings – and look nice too, but you could simply use a bird tray with a raised rim so that feed doesn’t blow away. They’re open to squirrels and offer no protection against the elements, although well-placed holes help with drainage. It’s important with these to only offer what birds can eat that day and shake out any remaining food