Feeding Wild Birds

Feeding birds is a great way to attract a variety of wild birds into your garden. Different birds need different foods, so by supplying a variety of feed the more likely you will attract a variety of species.

When buying bird food its essential that you get a good mix of seeds, peanuts and dried or live food such as calci-worms and mealworms. You’ll then have a good variety to offer your wild birds. Ready-made mixes should contain, sunflower seeds, flaked maize, chopped or nibbed peanuts, and small seeds such as millet. You can always add some additional seed or mealworm to give it that extra energy boost!

Don’t forget to use up those household scraps, breadcrumbs, cooked rice, crumbled up small pieces of cheese or any dried fruit will be a treat when placed onto you bird table. Don’t throw out that bruised fruit. Apples or pears will be greatly enjoyed by blackbirds or thrushes.

It is important though not to feed the wrong things from your kitchen scraps. Birds cannot process salt and will die if given too much. Avoid offering your garden birds any food that contains lots of salt. This includes salted peanuts, salty bacon, chips crisps etc.

During the cold weather your supply of food will save birds lives. Make sure you put out food and water on a regular basis, if possible in the morning and again in the afternoon. Small quantities are best so that the food doesn’t become old and stale which will spread disease. Also plenty of fresh water for drinking and bathing is essential.

Fat balls and suet based products are especially good because of the high fat content, as are peanuts. Seed mixes are also high in essential oils to keep the birds fit and healthy through the cold weather. Avoid hanging and using fat balls in nylon mesh nets or bags as these can trap birds’ feet. Buy a fat ball feeder or break them down and feed from a bird table.

Make sure you use the correct feeder. There are a variety of feeders available on the market. We recommend you use a mesh feeder for peanuts. Never place whole peanuts onto the ground or a bird table. Whole peanuts are a choking hazard, especially during the breeding season. If you want to put out peanuts onto the ground or bird table, then make sure you chop them up into small pieces, or better still used blanched chopped (nibbed) peanuts. You can also feed chopped peanuts from a seed feeder.

In cold and dry weather birds often struggle to find worms and insects. Calci-worms and mealworms are full of nutrition and an excellent food for birds such as blue tits, robins and wrens. Place a handful onto your bird table or ground feeding tray, blackbird and thrushes love them. Once you start to feed the birds make sure to offer some food all year round.

Its also very important to provide a regular supply of clean water for the birds to drink and bathe in. Water is important all year round, so use a bird bath or improvise with an old dustbin lid or ceramic plant saucer, but make sure you always clean them thoroughly and regularly to prevent disease from spreading.

We recommend you feed your garden birds all year round. However, in the summer months you might find that you see less birds feeding from the garden. This is nothing to worry about as in late summer birds are nearing the end of a busy few months of hectic activity. They will moult or renew their juvenile plumage, and whilst they are losing their flight feather will take shelter to conceal themselves from predators. You’ll hear less singing as they no longer need to defend territory so may seem to have disappeared. There is at this time of year and abundant supply of natural food such as berries, seed or grain and some birds will move to nearby farmland or orchards to feed.

So late summer is a great opportunity to do a little bird house care. It is a good time to clean feeders, bird tables and nest boxes before the birds return in early autumn. A mild solution of disinfectant and hot water is required but ensure you thoroughly rinse and feeders before you use them again. You might want to try different areas for hanging your feeders but do ensure you have cleaned them thoroughly. Dirty feeders spread disease!