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When to stop feeding birds?

Seem to be mixed messages coming from TV & Radio programmes. I have never fed birds in the garden after end March and before late November. -Is it right that once you start you should not stop or is this a ruse to make you continue buying bird food?
I have 12 Blue Tits/10 sparrows/2 Great Tits and 2 Robins plus a droopy winged lady Blackbird in the back garden  whom I call 'The Rabble' and 3 Blue Tits/2 Coal Tits/1 Robin and a Moorhen in the front garden whom I call the 'Quiet Crew' -They all know exactly when I am going to put food out -should I stop or not soon?



  • Singing GardenerSinging Gardener EssexPosts: 1,214
    I find there's a lull in the birds coming in April, May and June but after that I get lots of parents and fledglings coming which is lovely to watch.
  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 49,145
    Yes - I feed all year round now.
    I used to follow the general advice years ago of mainly autumn through till spring, but the birds were visiting with youngsters, and still appearing even when there was other food available, so I continued feeding all year round.
    Our spring can be a long time coming too, so I feel it benefits them. 
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

  • fidgetbonesfidgetbones Derbyshire but with a Nottinghamshire postcode. Posts: 16,470
    I feed all year round. When the birds are nesting I also get live mealworms for Scruff the Robin. Blackbirds love them too.
  • ObelixxObelixx Vendée, Western FrancePosts: 28,574
    I have fed all year for decades now.  It helps birds survive winter, gives them energy for finding mates, building a good nest, making good eggs and then, when the eggs hatch the parents have an easy source of energy to help them forage for lots of juicy insects for the babies which means fewer aphids and caterpillars interfering with my treasures and no chemicals needed.

    When the chicks fledge and leave the nest they learn the garden too, feed and grow strong and entertain and repeat the process the following year.  It's a win win.

    There are periods when they eat less and some when they seem insatiable but it all helps with wildlife diversity.
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • LynLyn DevonPosts: 21,143
    I feed all year round, the parents will want food soon and then the babies. The only time it eases off here is autumn because there’s grain and berries around. 
    If you feed all year round the birds will stay close to your garden. 
    Gardening on the wild, windy west side of Dartmoor. 

  • wild edgeswild edges The north west of south east WalesPosts: 8,878
    You need to judge it on your local area really, the weather and on the type of birds you get. If there's plenty of natural food about in the summer then reducing feeding makes sense but if not then they're relying more on your feeders so cutting them off might be quite bad. Likewise if we have a bad summer, too wet or too hot, then they might struggle to find enough food. Sparrows especially tend to rely on food from humans which is why their numbers declined when farming became too neat for them to live on the scraps.

    I find birds nest in my garden then go off foraging for wild food elsewhere for the chicks. It's good then for the adults to be able to keep their energy up with a quick snack between runs. So many people feed the birds now though that if you reduce the amount of food you put out they probably only need to go a few doors away to find more.

    Tradition is just peer pressure from dead people
  • madpenguinmadpenguin Isle of WightPosts: 2,448
    I also feed year round.
    Apparently birds don't rely on garden feeders exclusively and just visit as part of the rounds they do in gardens.
    There are times when my feeders need filling a lot and others when nothing visits.
    The birds know what they are doing!!
    “Every day is ordinary, until it isn't.” - Bernard Cornwell-Death of Kings
  • josusa47josusa47 Posts: 3,531
    I stop feeding when they stop coming for the food, in other words, I don't stop.  I only feed mealworms in the breeding season, because they are so costly, but all nestlings, including those of seed-eating species, need insect food because they haven't had a chance to swallow the necessary grit to be able to grind up seeds.
  • LynLyn DevonPosts: 21,143
    I have mealworm in my mixed bird feed, they seem to like the suet blocks best when the chicks are about.
    Gardening on the wild, windy west side of Dartmoor. 

  • Ladybird4Ladybird4 Third rock from the sunPosts: 35,512
    I feed all year round too. I use a zero grow mix with added suet and dried mealworms. There are no black sunflower shells either. Whatever the little birds sift out as they seek their favourites, the pheasants glean.
    Cacoethes: An irresistible urge to do something inadvisable
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