Animals Blog

Looking After Garden Birds During the Cold Spell

While our rangers have been working hard in the wildlife park looking after all the animals, we've also been making sure to check our bird feeders and you can do the same!

During the cold weather, our garden birds need high energy food to keep them warm! BirdWatch Ireland have been encouraging people to put out food for the birds that visit their gardens and have put together a super handy to menu to make it easy to know what to feed them, be sure to get the kids involved with kitchen scrapes on the list it’s an easy after lunch or dinner family activity. 

Here is BirdWatch Ireland's 'Menu' -

Wild bird seed, peanuts and sunflower seed can found in local supermarkets and garden shops, as can the special wire or plastic feeders that they should be put in; these feeders can then be suspended from tree branches or a bird table.  Apples, whether cut in half and speared on branches or just left out whole on the lawn, are also a great source of food, particularly for Blackbirds and other members of the thrush family, as well as Blackcaps (small warblers that have only recently begun to spend the winter in Ireland).  Kitchen scraps, such as bacon rinds, cheese (particularly loved by Robins), suet, raisins, moistened bread, melon seeds, fruit, stale cake, cooked potato, oatmeal, fresh coconut and uncooked pastry, also make welcome meals.  Fat is an especially important source of energy for birds, so please don’t waste it!  Lumps of suet may be hung out on strings or in plastic mesh vegetable containers, and meat trimmings, bacon rinds and other scraps will also be eaten.  Melted fat may be poured over bread or cake scraps to make “bird cake”.
There are a couple of items which should never be fed to birds.  These include desiccated (dried) coconut, uncooked rice or dry bread, which may swell up in the bird’s stomach. -BWI

Be sure to check out BirdWatch Ireland’s full post on looking out for garden birds here.


Water sources are also crucial and can be scarce, in winter and especially in particularly cold weather like we are having in Ireland at the moment.  Dehydration can be a threat to birds if their sources of water are frozen. Though birds can eat snow, it takes much more precious energy for a bird to eat snow and warm it to body temperature than it does for them to drink unfrozen water.


Water also helps birds preen their feathers. Without proper preening, birds' feathers won't stay positioned and aligned. Feathers out of alignment in winter create gaps in insulation, which makes birds lose body heat faster.


Remember birds quickly become dependent on you as a source of food, so make sure to continue feeding them until mid-spring.