Guide to Feeding Birds in Summer

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As the temperatures rise, the needs of our feathered friends become more demanding. From nurturing fledglings to maintaining their own energy levels, birds face several challenges during the summer months.

Understanding the Importance of Summer Bird Care

While many people associate bird feeding with the winter months, summer presents its own set of challenges that can stress avian populations. Post-breeding season in spring and early summer sees a sharp increase in the bird population as fledglings join the ranks. Adult birds are not only tasked with feeding these new mouths but also with preparing for the upcoming leaner times. These responsibilities, combined with fluctuating environmental conditions, can deplete their energy reserves significantly.

Dry spells can make worms and other natural food sources scarce as they retreat deep into the ground. Conversely, heavy rains can oversaturate the ground, making it difficult for birds to find food. Under such conditions, supplemental feeding can be crucial to their survival.

Key Nutritional Choices for Supporting Birds in Summer

Providing the right type of bird food during the summer can significantly ease the survival struggles of birds. Here are some of the best options:

  • Sunflower Hearts:

These are a superior choice for bird feed due to their high energy content and ease of consumption. Without the hard outer shell of whole sunflower seeds, sunflower hearts are both nutritious and less messy, as birds are not left with husks to discard.

  • Protein-Rich Mealworms:

Mealworms offer a high protein content, which is essential for the growth of fledglings and the vitality of adult birds. Opt for live mealworms, when possible, as they are the most beneficial, although dried mealworms can serve as a handy substitute if rehydrated properly.

  • Variety of Fruits:

Fruits like apples, pears, raisins, and sultanas can provide quick bursts of energy. These should be placed strategically either on the ground for birds that feed at that level or suspended from trees for those who feed higher up.

  • Wholesome Leftovers:

Leftover cooked pasta, rice, and unsalted rinds from meat or vegetables can also be beneficial. It is critical to avoid foods with high salt content or bread, which offer little nutritional value to birds.

Foods to Avoid During Warm Weather

Certain foods are less suitable for summer feeding due to the risk of spoilage and potential health hazards. Fat-based products, such as suet or fat balls, can melt in the heat, turning rancid and potentially harming birds. Peanuts, while high in fat, can be dangerous due to the risk of aflatoxin, a potent carcinogen produced by mould. Always choose peanuts specifically processed for bird feeding, which are tested to be free of this toxin.

Feeder Maintenance and Hygiene

Keeping bird feeders clean is vital to prevent disease. Bacteria and fungal spores can thrive in the residue left on unclean feeders, posing a significant health risk. Regular cleaning with a solution of bleach and water can help prevent the spread of disease, ensuring that birds remain healthy and safe while feeding in your garden.

Enhancing Your Garden for Birds

Aside from feeding, consider other ways to make your garden more bird friendly. Providing water sources, planting native shrubs, and maintaining a landscape that offers natural shelter and nesting spots can greatly enhance the quality of life for birds during the summer.

A Call to Action for Bird Enthusiasts

Engaging in thoughtful bird care during the summer not only supports the avian population but also enriches our own lives through closer contact with nature. By understanding the specific needs of birds during these months and taking action to address these needs, you can help ensure a vibrant, healthy community of birds in your garden.

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