What do you feed your garden birds?

Do you love wildlife? You’re not alone! According to the RSPB, over half of adults in the UK feed their local birds. Providing much-needed nutrients during times of food shortage, feeders, bird tables and bird baths are brilliant for helping our feathered friends.

There’s enjoyment to be had too: by putting out treats, you can marvel at birds varying in colour and character.
Many homeowners start feeding birds during the wintertime when they need nourishment the most, and then offer food on a daily basis throughout the rest of the year. Once you start feeding birds, you should try and stick to a routine, otherwise your beaked buddies could miss out on much-needed treats!

How do you care for the birds in your garden? We asked our online community what their best advice was…

Popular treats

Birds love a good mix of nuts, fruits and seeds, so packing your feeder with plenty of these will keep the birdies happy. If your garden is a sparrow or finch paradise, you might need to leave out small seeds such as millet, whereas tits and greenfinches much prefer peanuts and sunflower seeds. Take a look at what’s hot and what’s not in your feeder next time they’ve finished snacking for a good indicator of which birds love your garden the most.

Not sure what to feed your birds? The online community had a few recommendations about what their peckish pals prefer…

“The birds have a selection of seeds, nuts and meal worms. Plus cut up fruit now and again. And fat balls”
Ann on Facebook

“I throw all sorts out for them, cakes that have gone a bit stale, I have a little bird table that I put nuts & seeds on, there’s an old bowl with water in & anything else I think of”
Andria on Facebook
“They Have A Choice Of Sunflower Hearts’ Niger Seeds’ Nuts and Fat Balls’ We Love To Watch Them Feeding’”
Julie on Facebook

A dab hand at DIY? Try these homemade bird feeder suggestions…

“I make my own fat balls, put in cheese and bacon. They have bread, leftover cake, seed, and something I hang up a lamb bone (after we’ve eaten the lamb, of course) it’s stripped in no time!”
Linda on Facebook
“I put porridge oats in the base of my Halogen oven, then scoop them out before it has it’s swim in the magic cabinet. Extra treat for the Birds…”
Josephine on Facebook
“I make fat balls with pork dripping and I put bits of bacon in it for them”
Gaynor on Facebook

The main attraction

The birds you are most likely to come across in your garden are little starlings, house sparrows, blackbirds, blue and great tits, robins, greenfinches and collared doves. If you live in a wooded area, you may be lucky enough to come across a great spotted woodpecker or a nuthatch, and if you leave out fruit and berries, you’re likely to see thrushes, fieldfares and redwings.

Take a look at the most common types of birds found by our social media followers…

“We get all sorts from woodpeckers to wrens. We’re very lucky”
Trixie on Facebook
“Seagulls, blackbirds, thrush, got our own robin. Love to watch them queue and take in turns to feed”
Sheila on Facebook
“We have finches, blackbirds, sparrows, wrens and 3 robins. Sounds like a Hitchcock film some days”
Linda on Facebook

“We have hummingbirds Year round, so I keep two feeders filled with sugar water. I also leave a suet/ seed/ berry feeder for the chickadees, woodpeckers, northern flickers, finches, sparrows and other small birds”
Cathy on Facebook
“At the moment we have a lovely male pheasant visiting our table”.
Kathleen on Facebook

When to feed

Depending on which time of year you put your feeder out, it’s a good idea to know what the birds really need, whether it’s spring, summer, autumn or winter.

During the colder months, birds need high-fat foods, so fat balls are an excellent choice. If there’s a severe cold snap outside, or there’s been a storm, birds may need to be fed twice daily: once in the morning and again in the early afternoon. Although feeding more during winter is a good idea, birds still need nourishment year round.

“I feed them all year and it’s so important to give them fresh water especially now, when most water features freeze up”
Susan on Facebook

“Yes we do all year round, even though we have 2 cats they let the birds eat their food and don’t bother the birds”
Sue on Facebook
“I certainly do and all the year round as advocated by the RSPB”
Jo on Facebook
“Feed all year, especially spring and winter”
Janet on Facebook

If you feed them daily, you might even make a friend for life…

“We feed them every day. We have our usual very welcome visitors a lovely Robin and blackbird, on occasions a little wren”
Heather on Facebook

A few more tips:

  • Avoid putting out homemade fat balls during the summer months, as the heat can cause them to go soft and rancid.
  • High protein foods are good for birds during the summer months, as this is when they moult.
  • During the spring and summer months, avoid foods which are difficult to swallow, such as loose peanuts, chunks of dry bread, or fats: this can cause younger birds to choke.
  • Animal fat is a big no-no – it’s so soft it’ll stick to birds’ feathers and stop them from keeping waterproof and warm.
  • Only put out what will get eaten during the day. This is important if you want to avoid unwanted visitors, such as vermin.
  • Dirty bird feeders and bird tables can host diseases. Make sure you clean them regularly to keep your visitors healthy and happy.
  • Never put out any food in mesh bags, these can trap birds’ feet.
  • Try sprinkling grated mild cheese under trees and bushes to attract more timid birds like wrens and dunnocks.

What are your favourite ways to feed local birds? Get in touch with us and join in with the conversation on Facebook or Twitter. If you need more information about looking after wildlife, take a look at the RSPB site, where you’ll find heaps of guides and articles.