Bird feeding advice please

I got a little bird feeder this year for the first time. Prior to this I don't know where the birds got their food from. Well, I've noticed that as soon as I fill them up the sparrows devour the lot within a few days. 
My worry is that if they come to rely on my food too much they will forget how to forage?  Should I leave the feeder empty now and then so that they look elsewhere? I got a feeder to help them along but not for them to rely fully on a human . Come to think of it there aren't many berry producing hedges and trees on my street but there are wild areas not far from me.
What would you do?
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  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 26,751
    It's the perfect time of year to start feeding, as their natural sources will start to dry up a bit.
    Once you start feeding, you need to keep going as they will come to rely on the food you put out. 
    I feed all year round now.
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....


  • I got a little bird feeder this year for the first time. Prior to this I don't know where the birds got their food from. Well, I've noticed that as soon as I fill them up the sparrows devour the lot within a few days. 
    My worry is that if they come to rely on my food too much they will forget how to forage?  Should I leave the feeder empty now and then so that they look elsewhere? I got a feeder to help them along but not for them to rely fully on a human . Come to think of it there aren't many berry producing hedges and trees on my street but there are wild areas not far from me.
    What would you do?
    have a look at this discussion about where to get bird feed from that I started.
    https://forum.gardenersworld.com/discussion/1033353/bird-seed#latest
     as Fairygirl said, once you start feeding don't stop as they will rely on you, like her I also feed all year around, I hope you enjoy watching them. P.s don't buy cheap bird mix it ends up getting wasted. We fill our feeders up at the end of the day so the early bird can catch the worm so to speak.
  • ObelixxObelixx Vendée, Western FrancePosts: 17,981
    Feeding all year round is important tho levels consumed will change thru the year.  Feeding them now and thru winter helps youngbirds survive better and helps older bairds stay fit so they have the energy to build good nests and lay good eggs next spring and also incubate them.   

    Feeding the adults during the hatching and nestling period in spring and summer gives them easy energy to help them forage for juicy insects and larvae to feed their young as they can't get fluids any other way and need lots of protein to grow.   This is much better than using insecticides to keep your plants pest free.   Once fledged, the young will accompany adults to the feeders and learn to feed there and they'll all have th energy to fly about and find natural forage elsewhere.  

    They will eat less between mid summer and mid autumn but will benefit greatly from having the extra resources.
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • madpenguinmadpenguin Isle of WightPosts: 1,658
    I read somewhere that stopping feeding birds does not affect them dramatically.They forage naturally and your feeder would be just one of (hopefully) many as well as natural food sources.
    I still put out food especially at nesting time and in the winter.Water is also very important both summer (scarce) and winter (frozen).
    But I never worry if I have to go away for a few days and can't fill the feeders!
    “Every day is ordinary, until it isn't.” - Bernard Cornwell-Death of Kings
  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 26,751
    I used to stop around May and start again in September, but I now feed through that period as many birds are feeding young and the extra makes life easier for adults.
    The extra bonus is that the youngsters come too  :)  
    I only do feeders in summer though - I don't feed on the ground. The blackies and thrushes have plenty elsewhere. They return at this time of year - usually in late October or so when food is less plentiful, and ground is often frozen.
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....


  • Rik56Rik56 Posts: 25
    My wife feeds all year but less so in summer.

    She puts out more mealworms in early spring and summer along with berry pellets -(no split peanuts during spring)

    In the colder months she will put out more berry pellets, and split peanuts and occasionally makes "fat cakes" but feeds a little less mealworms.


  • cornellycornelly Posts: 715
    We feed throughout the year, seeds through the summer with the addition of fats once October comes to the following April, its a pleasure to watch them feed the antics they get up to.
  • purplerallimpurplerallim LincolnshirePosts: 2,086
    No meal worms from January till now as they tend to be lacking in moisture if fed to babies. Fat balls all year round as they are fast food for adults while feeding young and seed/crushed peanuts/sunflower hearts all year.
  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 26,751
    I soak my mealworms @purplerallim:)
    Do you not use sunflower hearts @Rik56? Most small birds love them. 
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....


  • purplerallimpurplerallim LincolnshirePosts: 2,086
    🤢 @Fairygirl
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