Bird feeders make a lovely feature in any garden. Not only do they attract beautiful birds, but they can also play a valuable part in their survival when food shortages occur. We’ve put together a guide to how and when feed your feathered visitors.
Why is it good to feed garden birds?
Birds can be affected by food shortages all year round, so any food you’re able to provide could make a big difference to their survival. During breeding season (the spring and summer months), additional food on your bird table can help birds to care for their young. It’s important to note that some food isn’t suitable for young chicks, which we’ll explain in more detail later.
What should I feed my garden birds?
What to feed your garden guests depends on what time of year it is. During the spring and summer months, birds require foods that are high in protein.
Suitable spring/summer foods:
- Black sunflower seeds
- Pinhead oatmeal
- Soaked sultanas, raisins and currants
- be careful with these if you have pets running around in the garden, as raisins are toxic to cats and dogs
- Mild cheese, grated
- Seed mixtures without loose peanuts
- Mealworms, waxworms and mixes for insectivorous birds
- Fruit such as soft apples and pears cut in half, bananas and grapes
- again, be careful of these around pets
- Tinned cat or dog food or soaked dry pet food
- please note, this may attract crows, magpies and cats
Things to avoid:
- Loose peanuts, dry and hard foods, fat and large pieces of bread. The warmer months are breeding season and these food items aren’t suitable for chicks
- Homemade fat balls. These can go rancid in warm weather. Commercially produced fat bars are suitable for summer feeding, but any remains should be discarded after three weeks
Top tip: Don’t forget to provide fresh water for birds – they will use this for drinking and bathing, even in winter (just make sure it doesn’t freeze over).
Tips for autumn/winter feeding:
- In the colder months, it’s a good idea to put food out regularly
- in severe weather, twice daily is ideal if possible
- Birds require high-fat foods during the cold weather, to help them maintain their fat reserves
- Adjust the quantity you put out according to demand
- Don’t allow uneaten foods to accumulate around the feeders
- Once a feeding routine has been established, try to stick to it. Birds get used to schedules and start to time their visits accordingly
Good winter foods for birds:
- Homemade fat balls
- these give birds energy and help to keep them warm. Simply mix good-quality kitchen scraps such as cheese and dry porridge oats with melted lard or suet, before setting in the fridge overnight
- Sunflower seeds and hearts
- Nyjer seeds
How else can I make my garden more appealing to birds?
There are plenty of plants you can grow that not only look great but also provide a nutrient-rich food source for birds. Berried plants are particularly good, as they are full of antioxidants that make up an important part of a bird’s diet. Some plants that birds will love include dogwood, cotoneaster, ivy, and honeysuckle.
How The Ashfield Partnership supports local wildlife
We strongly believe that all new build developments should be designed in a way that supports local wildlife. That’s why we provide habitats for wildlife, including bee bricks and nesting boxes for birds. You can learn more about our values and approach to housebuilding here.