bird sitting on the hand of a person in winter
Lifestyle

How to Help Birds to Survive The Winter?

Animals have a difficult time in the winter finding food and shelter. How to help birds in the winter to survive is not very difficult, but there are so many people buying the wrong food, which is very damaging to birds. I will explain what is necessary for birds and small mammals, and insects to survive the winter. For me, it is so normal to help animals and people. 🙂

How to help birds to survive the winter
Photo by Sam Willis from Pexels

Winter is Coming!

For many animals, winter is a tough season. They need shelter to hibernate, food to keep their temperatures up, protection against the cold and windy days, and have the energy to survive till spring is coming and they are giving birth to their children. Raising the offspring needs much energy. So we really can provide them with a hand to survive. Last winter, when the temperatures dropped to minus 18, I had about eight blackbirds in my garden, asking for help. It is a problem because they feel that my garden is his territory and is fighting the others. So I had to find out a way to help them all, and it worked.

I had so many animals in my little fairy garden that it touched my heart very much. Every winter, I help my birds, mammals, and insects, and they are very thankful. I love them all! Scandinavian countries are frigid countries with much ice and snow, a reason that the birds that are staying need shelter and food. Most birds fly to the South of Europe, but because our winters in the Netherlands are milder than in former times, many birds stay here instead of flying to Spain and Africa. It saves them energy, and there are so many people feeding them. We have many birds that come from Scandinavian countries, staying with us. Or they are coming from Russia, where it is freezing in winter. In spring, they are gone, and I have the beautiful feeling that I have saved them.

How to Help Insects in Winter?

You might not love insects, but they are so crucial for us, so you better do something for the insects to survive. Most insects are hibernating or dying before the winter season. They have built their nests and taken care of their breed for spring, so they have done their job and died. But some insects survive in withered plants, in the ground, like the bumblebee queen or butterflies. Wild honey bees survive in a wall or tree, somewhere they can build their nest. Most of the workers die, but the queen survives and begins in spring with the eggs. There is enough honey in their houses to survive in winter.

honeybees
pixabays

For me, the honey bees are incredible insects. They can recognize your face, and if you are peaceful living beside them, they love you, and you don’t need to fear. We live with our insects in peace, even with wasps and hornets. We have only once been attacked because we have taken out a raspberry bush, and a bee has made her nest under the plant. My husband was stung and had a big lip: poor Henk and poor bee. I could have slapped myself that I didn’t think that a bee could be under the plant. Raspberry plants are very wanted for bees and other insects. So, it was my fault!

If bees know your face and know you are peaceful, not threatening them, they will never attack you. When I need to clean my window next to them, I don’t experience any problems. I am allowed to stay close to them, watching them in awe, and they would never attack me. Beautiful, intelligent insects! We live a friendship, a symbiosis because they pollinate my plants and trees while they have enough to eat and have a shelter, living in my wall. I would never allow anyone to remove them from the wall! I am a warrior! 😉 And so are they, my beautiful wild honey bees!

This autumn, I had so many butterflies; it was awesome, like they came back. Butterflies love to survive in insects’ hotels. It is desirable to place these hotels for the insects so that they will survive the winter. I always leave my withered plants until spring; then, I cut them. But not before the sun is warm enough for the insects to leave the plants.  It is also best you leave your leaves in your garden, so plants and insects are safe. I have three big trees in my garden, and the leaves cover the ground and the plants. They are shelter and compost for the insects and soil. Insects are beautiful creatures, living their own extraordinary life. You can learn so much from them! I encourage you!

two butterflies on a flowers
Photo by Volker Kaes from Pexels

How to Help Small Mammals in Winter?

We have some small mammals in our little garden, like the hedgehog and bats. I love to observe these animals. Of course, we also have different sorts of mice that come and seek shelter in the wall. I don’t need the mice, but it is difficult to exclude them. They are so tiny that they can climb everywhere, find a hole in the house wall, and come in. The house is warm in winter, and they desire the warmth the same as the humans do. We hear them running in the evening above our head, on the roof.

The hedgehogs are coming to our garden the whole summer and autumn, finding beetles and snails. In autumn, before the winter comes and they will find a place to hibernate, they are thankful for extra food to expand their fat in the body. The hedgehog lives while hibernating from its fat reserves, so it is essential for the animal to fatten itself. You can help them by feeding them cat food or hedgehog food that you can buy in a pet shop or the supermarket. Never give them processed food, like pasta, peanut butter, or milk. Milk destroys their stomach; hedgehogs are not able to digest the milk. Peanut butter is very salty if you feed them your peanut butter from the supermarket. I buy peanut butter for the birds, and the hedgehog eats it too, but it is specially prepared for animals without salt. Hedgehogs love peanut butter!

hedgehog eating from a plate
pexels

However, it is better to buy them real hedgehog food or cat food that they love. If you feed them in autumn, they will become fat faster and will survive the winter. Many hedgehogs are born late, and you can see them still seeking food on the frosty nights in December or January. But this is for the hedgehog too late, and it can die. If you see a tiny hedgehog in the winter walking around, you can better bring it to a specialized hedgehog shelter. They know what to do and what to feed them. Tiny hedgehogs have no chance of surviving the winter without our help. They don’t live in environments where they find lots of insects like in former times. It is also quite dangerous because of the cars. Many hedgehogs are killed by cars.

To give them a helping hand, I have several corners in my garden where I store compost, wood, and leaves for the hedgehogs to have a place to hibernate. We had many winters where a hedgehog has used our corners as a shelter, and I even have made a house with success. You can buy unique hedgehog houses where no cat or other animal can disturb them.

We also observe quite a lot of bats in summer. They are also hibernating in our walls or trees. These little mammals are in danger because of the closing of the walls with insolation foam which kills many bats. Experts have to check the walls before a company is allowed to fill the wall with foam, but it is still that some companies don’t care because the money is more important than the animals. The bats die horrific deaths, completely glued in their walls. You can expect complete colonies in the wall. So, please, check first if bats are living in your house walls before closing the holes.

a bat eating fruit
Photo by Miriam Fischer from Pexels

I don’t need to help bats for the winter, and they are just gone into their home and come back in spring hunting for food. I know that you can buy unique houses for bats, and they are thankful for such houses. However, there are people who feed them with fat and fruit, and they eat this offered food.

How to Help Birds Survive The Winter?

black-white titmouse in winter
Photo by Erik Karits from Pexels

The birds in the Netherlands have many people who are giving them a helping hand. Older folks love to sit inside, watching the birds eating and flying around. There are so many unique birds from other countries that spend the winter in warmer places during the cold season. If you start to feed them, you will see many birds that usually are not in our countries. I put up the feeding houses and birdhouses in my garden and fill them with special seeds bought in special shops. There have been winters where I have purchased cheap seeds from the supermarket. They were very often old and filled with cheap wheat seeds that the small birds would not eat.

Now I have found a company that is specialized in food for our wildlife animals. They also offer houses and organic plants for butterflies and bees. I have already bought many times from this company. I am sure that you will also find a great address in your country to purchase seeds and other products for the animals.

My birds are pretty spoiled by feeding them throughout winter, and I start at the end of September and stop in April. It is funny how they keep coming and seeking the feeding places in the spring. But it is essential that they need to begin hunting insects for their breed because the little birds need protein to grow strong. You can always feed them a few seeds every day till they start to seek insects again. In this manner, you teach them to fly around and find insects.

Birds also love the houses you place throughout your garden because, in winter, they find shelter in these houses, while in spring and summer, they use them for preparing their nests. I have pretty many neighbor cats in my garden, which stops the birds from using the houses for their breed in summer, but in winter, they love to find shelter in them.

Please, try it out and enjoy the many sorts of birds coming to your garden! 🙂

Final Thought

How to help birds in the winter to survive is not tricky. If you love animals and enjoy the different birds in your garden, you could start feeding the birds. Maybe you would love to give them a helping hand, food, and shelter, to help them survive the winter. Small birds have a body temperature of 40 Cel, which they need to keep up. On cold winter days, the birds lose a lot of energy which they need to replace by eating much fat in winter. Seeds and peanuts, peanut butter is excellent to give them the power they need.

Do you already feed the birds in winter? I would love to know what you do, and maybe you have some tips for the community.

All the Best,

Sylvie

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