Why birds are seeking energy sources right now
As winter hits, trees and shrubs go dormant above ground for the season, biding their time until spring arrives. That means a reduction of food sources like nectar, berries and insects for our wild bird friends.
Many of our native birds such as the kākā, kererū, korimako, tūī and tauhou feed primarily on fruit and insects. This is why it’s so important to plant native species if you have the opportunity. When the right variety of species are planted, the plants provide nectar, seeds and berries all year round. Leaving leaf litter on the ground can promote insect life and therefore provide a source of sustenance for the birds.
However, during winter this source can dry up. Worms and beetles will head further underground until temperatures rise again.
By setting up an energy feed station birds have access to a reliable source of good quality fats. They are at their coldest in winter, using more fat reserves to survive chilly nights and fly longer distances to find food. As a result they search out rich sources of fat and protein to sustain them until natural food starts appearing again in spring. And as Tahu Mackenzie, educator at the Orokonui Ecosanctuary and co-designer of the Peka Peka native bird feeder likes to say, “the more they feed, the more they breed!”
We make our energy range in-house from a base of local and sustainably sourced soya oil, wheat and peanut flour. Then we add a range of flavourings such as natural berry extract, peanut flour and most recently, freeze-dried blueberry skins to provide variety.
While vegetable fats provide the energy birds need to keep warm and make the next flight, a source of protein and other nutrients is useful too. Once fat reserves are exhausted birds draw on protein stashes to sustain them until the next meal. That’s why we blend mealworms and our home-grown nutrient-dense seeds into the range too.
Shaped into a range of cakes, truffles, logs and pellets, there’s a size in the energy range to suit every feeder set up. Visitors tend to arrive en masse once a stocked feeder is spotted. You can expect the colourful tauhou (waxeye / silvereye), sparrows, yellowhammers and songbirds.
Feeders should be cleaned regularly and clean drinking water should be on hand nearby. Fruit is also popular in winter. Serving up cut-up apples (cores removed) or kiwifruit is a good way to provide sustenance for tired birds.
Try stocking a feeder with calorie-rich food this winter. You’ll not only provide precious kilojoules of energy for tired birds but also bring colour and life back into the garden.