Tag Archives: birdseed

Feeding Winter Birds

In the last few weeks it has become cold here in Wicklow, with daytime temperatures often not more than 8 degrees Celsius (about 46 degrees Fahrenheit) and often less than that.

A very beautiful male Greenfinch approaching a peanut-feeder. In 2007 and 2008 these birds looked like they were going extinct, due to a fungus that was being spread via contaminated perches and feeders. Always wash your feeders, soaking them in soapy water between each fill. And make sure to dry them properly too.
A very beautiful male Greenfinch approaching a peanut-feeder. In 2007 and 2008 these birds looked like they were going extinct, due to a fungus that was being spread via contaminated perches and feeders. Fortunately and amazingly, they are thriving again in Wicklow. Always wash your feeders, soaking them in soapy water between each fill. And make sure to dry them properly too.

Now that the berries have almost all gone from the trees, it’s a good time to put out food for the birds. Some people feed the birds all year round, with the active encouragement of the birdseed producing companies, but I don’t like to do this as it interferes with natural foraging behaviour and encourages wild birds to be dependent on human beings – which is never a good thing. Of course, helping them survive difficult times in an environment we have drastically altered by our very presence is another matter, and winter is just such a time.

An Irish Coal Tit on the left and a Blue Tit on the right  feeding on peanuts. Both species usually thrive on insects but will take what they can get when times are lean. The Irish Coal Tit is a unique subspecies of the Coal Tit. This species is also found in North America where it is known as the Black-capped Chickadee.
An Irish Coal Tit on the left and a Blue Tit on the right feeding on peanuts. Both species usually thrive on insects but will take what they can get when times are lean. The Irish Coal Tit is a unique subspecies of the Coal Tit. This species is also found in North America where it is known as the Black-capped Chickadee.

In many cases the best chances you have of photographing birds are in winter. This is also a great time to recognise the differences between species.

The Coal Tit and the Blue Tit again form a slightly different angle, so you can see the colours on their bodies better. Both are very handsome species. The Great Tit is very similar to the Coal Tit but far larger and it doesn't have the white stripe down the back of the head that the Coal Tit has, but which, unfortunately, you can't see in either photo due to the angles of observation.
The Coal Tit and the Blue Tit again form a slightly different angle, so you can see the colours on their bodies better. Both are very handsome species. The Great Tit is very similar to the Coal Tit but far larger and it doesn’t have the white stripe down the back of the head that the Coal Tit has, but which, unfortunately, you can only just about see in the first photo.