A new Irish company is on a mission to raise happiness levels in Wicklow by encouraging householders to feed birds the right type of food to ensure they survive winter.
Studies have shown that feeding birds increases people’s connection to nature and leads to feelings of wellness.
But birds are now facing into the ‘Hungry Gap’, the most challenging time of year, when natural food sources are at their lowest.
“The World Economic Forum has published research that the happiest Europeans are those who see the most bird species in their day-to-day life,” said Patrick Croke, Technical Officer with Connecting to Nature.
“Studies have shown that greater bird biodiversity can make people more joyful. Feeding birds is a very good way of feeling closer to nature and bringing wildlife closer to you, and Ireland has a wonderful array of small wild birds that you can feed.
“However, new plants and insects will not begin to emerge until early spring, and the ground is often frozen, which eliminates their access to worms, all of which means that until the middle of March, birds are at an increased threat of starvation.”
Connecting to Nature specialises in different types of food depending on the time of year, so that now, as we are heading into winter, Patrick recommends peanut and suet-based products, such as suet covered oat flakes.
“The birds’ diet is changing from one that was predominately insects to eating more seeds and fruit as autumn arrived,” said Patrick.
“Berries, seeds and grains which are plentiful during the autumn and early winter, have been depleted. Our Hi-Energy No Mess mix is an essential foodstuff during these colder months. It contains both Peanuts and Peeled Sunflower seeds, which means that birds expend no energy removing the shells.”
Connecting to Nature is the brainchild of Julie Power, whose family has been in the seed business for six generations.
“You don’t have to be in the countryside to connect with nature, all you have to do is create an environment that consistently attracts birds and bees,” she said.
“After the experience of Covid lockdowns, we have a new awareness of the mental health benefits of connecting to nature, a renewed interest in our living world and improving our gardens for the benefit and love of wildlife.
“However, many people are unaware of the correct way to feed birds year-round and how they need different food at different times, or to successfully cultivate a wild garden.”
Using their combination of bird and wildflower expertise, Connecting To Nature will enable people to give a gift of wellness to loved ones by creating a bird feeding oasis and native flowers in spaces as small as an apartment balcony.
Julie’s great, great, great grandfather William Power opened his first nursery, florist, and seed merchant business in 1859 and the Power family has operated a successful agricultural seed business since then.
She has already developed a huge following with the Blooming Native wildflower seeds business, which has been the inspiration for combining bird feed and flower seed.
“Sowing wildflower seeds provides a habitat for pollinators such as bees and butterflies, seeds for wild birds, supports biodiversity, and brings us joy,” said Ms Power.
“I have a passion for the environment and I saw this as an opportunity to share how wildflower seeds can play their part in biodiversity and reveal the joy of native wildflowers in our ecosystem.
“I also found that the demand for native wildflower seeds continues to outstrip their supply.
“We produce our seeds on our own sites and our mixtures are curated to provide both food for wildlife and colour throughout the year.
“It is very easy to get this right, with a bit of instruction. Through our platforms we aim to educate people on how to very simply sow and cultivate the gardens that they want.”
See connectingtonature.ie for more details.