Why feed birds in your garden?
Feeding birds allows you to get really close to some of Sussex's most amazing wildlife. You might think great tits, robins and finches are nothing to shout about, but the more you look, the more you see their fantastic colours and interesting behaviours. We can all benefit from sharing our lives a little bit more with wildlife.
Over the past 50 years the numbers of many so called ‘common’ birds have dramatically declined. We don't know for certain why this is, but changing agricultural practices and a lack of food in the summer and winter are likely to have taken their toll. Sometimes when we look out of the window, it is difficult to believe that song thrushes, sparrows and starlings are all struggling to survive in the countryside, but they are. These, among many others, are now red listed as birds of extreme conservation concern.
By supplementary feeding at the right times of year, you can make sure your garden supports lots of birds. If enough gardens provide food, water and shelter in a neighbourhood, it creates essential corridors for wildlife to move along and live in.
You can feed birds right through the year if you want to:
- In Winter food is hard to find, so supplementing a bird's natural food can be essential to their survival
- In Spring adults are busy trying to raise chicks. Not only do they need to hunt all day to find the right food for their young, but they also need to feed themselves. A well-fed parent is better able to gather food for its babies.
- In Summer and Autumn birds use lots of energy moulting into their winter plumage. They also need to start to building up their fat reserves ready for winter.
Gardens can easily support families of blue tit, great tit, robin, wren and blackbird. With a little luck the fuss around your bird table may attract the interest of other less traditional garden birds including great spotted woodpecker, long-tailed tit, goldfinch, greenfinch, nuthatch and treecreeper.
Are there downsides?
Recently some people have started to question whether feeding garden birds is a good thing to do. Some people argue that it artificially maintains bird populations and that the food that we usually provide is not part of their natural diet and is therefore bad for them. However research has shown the beneficial effects of responsible supplementary feeding and in general we believe that feeding garden birds does more good than harm.