Attracting Autumn birds to your garden

January 9, 2018

How to create a garden space for your birds

January 9, 2018

What to feed your birds this winter?

January 9, 2018
Bird tit feeding at backyard feeder hanging on tree
How to create a garden space for your birds
What to feed your birds in Winter

It’s important to feed birds all year round; however, with the cold winter weather and lack of food available in their natural environment, it means making time to feed your birds in the winter should definitely be a priority for bird lovers.

Below you will find some inspirational bird food information, highlighting what to feed birds, particularly at dusk and dawn, during the cold season and beyond.

Feeders and bird tables

Firstly, investing in bird feeders or even a bird table is a good way to provide feathery visitors to your garden with ample supplies during the winter months.

Putting out a good mixed feed will encourage urban birds into your garden, providing them with essential energy during the blustery period and throughout the seasons.

Winter is the hardest time of year for all wildlife to survive, especially because of the scarcity of food. What’s more, parent birds will be in desperate need of food in as spring approaches, because they need to provide for their young, as well as themselves.

Garden Wildlife Direct Kingfisher Wooden Bird Table

Sunflower seeds

Sunflower seeds are rich in protein and unsaturated fats for birds, with black sunflower seeds being preferred as they are better than striped sunflower seeds, because of their higher oil content.

Black oil sunflower seeds can be given to birds in any season, not just winter. They will also attract a wide range of birds, and offer them nutritious food which they can get from feeders or simply sprinkled on the ground or on a table in your garden.

Suet

Suet is sometimes avoided due to the fact it melts in warm weather. However, this is why it makes the perfect food for birds in winter, as this is no longer a problem, plus it offers those much needed calories in volume.

What’s more, suet is available in lots of blends with different ingredients, making it appealing to different species of birds. You can also try different suet shapes for more feeding fun, including fat balls, bells and wreaths adding decoration to your garden.

Fat Balls

Nyjer

Nyjer (or thistle) seed is a very small, black seed which is rich in fat and oil, and is ideal for helping birds to store the fat they need to keep warm over the winter months.

Unfortunately, due to Nyjer’s small size, it will fall straight through a standard feeder, so it’s recommended to mix Nyjer with other seeds in a plastic feeder.

Alternatively, you can stir them into a fat ball mix, put them on a tray, or add them to a special nyjer seed feeder.

All year round seed mix GWD

Seed mixes

Seed mixes are and excellent way to attract different types of birds, using different types of mixes.

Mixes vary in ingredients and may contain a large proportion of sunflower seeds and millet, however, try to avoid mixes with large amounts of unappetizing fillers such as wheat, milo and corn.

Some seed mixes may also include nuts and nut pieces which birds will enjoy, especially with the added nutrients from the nuts.

Peanuts

Peanuts are high in fats and protein and are extremely popular with woodpeckers, finches, nuthatches and tits.

Despite their popularity, be careful when purchasing them as they may be harmful to birds. Avoid salted peanuts as most birds can not process the salt and may die from ingesting too much.

Also, don’t leave out whole peanuts in the spring unless they are in a wire mesh feeder. The reason being is that there are busy parent birds providing food to their young, which if peanuts are left whole, they could potentially choke them.

Mealworms

Mealworms are available both live and dried and are a great source of protein for birds, such as thrushes and robins.

If you decide to feed birds with dried mealworms, be sure to soak them in water beforehand to give valuable moisture. Also, watch out for any discoloured mealworms in either live or dried mealworms as they may be carrying diseases such as salmonella and so deadly for birds.

Bird feeder

Fruit

Fruits are a great source of food for birds, particularly because they have a high water content and are energy-rich with all their simple sugars. Surplus fruit such as apples, pears and plums can be cut up and left on either a bird table or the ground around your garden for birds to enjoy, particularly blackbirds, robins and thrushes.

Water

Finally, keep birds hydrated during the winter period by putting out dishes of fresh water. Be sure to keep water dishes and feeders clean too by giving them a quick rinse with tap water.

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19 comments

  1. Very helpful information and tips to encourage birds to regularly feed and remain healthy.

    Any tips on best place to site bird boxes, and how best to clean them apart from using water.

  2. Helpful advice, although leaving food on the ground in the country can encourage rats! Information on the best squirrel proof feeders always welcome: they are master thieves around here

  3. Great reading, try not to ground feed to much at once so the birds clear it up before the vermin come looking. 52 at least goldfinches on my feeders today.

  4. Your seed feeder in the picture with the bluetit does not look very clean around the inside just above the food.

  5. Hi,Many thanks for the update.Could you give me some idea regarding colour/discoloured
    mealworms.You learn something new every day……

  6. very helpful advice, especially on all the different feeds, i section the food off because of large birds, and in the garden there is a large tree trunk i put feed on this for the little birds, and on the ground away from the tree trunk i spread bird seed for the larger birds, and the rest is in the bird feeding station where there is an assortment of goodies, such as bird seed mix and a variety of suet, we do have a squirrel i have actually bought some squirrel food and placed it on the ground at the bottom of the bird feeding station, and the squirrel has moved it to the fence at the back and is eating the food. leaving the bird seed alone.

  7. I feed the birds and fresh water daily. I am very fortunate to have all spieces of garden birds that comes everyday.

    As for grey squirrels I feed them peanuts to keep them off the bird foods, works well. I made a wooden feeder with the flap to keep the peanuts dry and away from the rain and slugs. My squirrels ignores the bird foods and happily eating munching his nuts and off he goes.

    I also have a nest box on the silver birch tree, 4 years in a row had blue tits fledglings in the spring and so looking for way to this spring.

    I do wonder where do they go at nights, do the blue tits roost in the nest box at nights, they are currently guarding it during the daylight.

  8. I truly love all the little garden birds up to the grey turtle doves, but how do we keep the monster pigeons away ???

  9. I have had some peanuts in a holder for several weeks, (frequently changed) but they are not popular, never seen any bird after them and that includes robins pied-wagtails blackbirds thrushes starlings etc.What birds do eat them?
    By far the most popular food is suet pellets, but the ‘blocks are only eaten (slowly) if on the bird table.
    The milled millet has been totally ignored from the start.
    Any comments?
    Peter

  10. To Peter – that’s strange as the peanut feeder is the first to empty in my garden, even before the suet balls! I tend to have a lot of bluetits and coal tits, as well as robins, blackbirds, magpies and wrens. I know that the coal tits in particular love the peanuts. Strangely, the mixed seed seems to hang around longer than anything else.

  11. Excellent information thanks. We feed the birds everyday all year round but didn’t know about nuts not to be given in spring and fat balls not given in summer as they melt.

  12. Sunflower Hearts ; Are they harvested from Black Or Striped seeds ? I ask this question simply because of your write up in this article .

  13. Very helpful advice, especially about the meal worms. Try using something like WD40 to spray metal posts holding bird feeders – rats and squirrels can’t climb up it – and it’s great fun watching them try!

  14. For the second year, my garden birds do not touch thepeanuts in the peanut feeder. Can you tell e why and what I can do. Thank you as I purchased a big bag of nuts from you.

  15. I always use crushed peanuts ,safer for small and young birds –they love them ,either mixed into seed mix and also separately in holder
    Did research as student years about about feeding birds and discovered they like cooked potatoes cut up small .Tried it and they do

  16. I’m disheartened to read the advice on salmonella in dried mealworms. Is it the black ones we should throw out? I think this could more easily be done higher up the supply chain. Also, does anyone have any advice on curbing starlings? Now they have discovered the food source and especially, I suspect, since I have been using suet pellets, they bring their friends and relations and bully the sparrows. I appreciate that they need feeding too but would like a more equal ratio.

  17. Cheep !! bird food .Save used spread tubs ,put chopped bacon rind ,bread crumbs ,surplus pasta ,rice ,and any oil left over when cooking .
    sprinkle bird seed in and keep in freezer and just keep topping up till full .Save them all summer and in winter put contents out as late
    as possible to allow it to start thawing for morning ,The birds love it and the big birds can`t fly off with it .One tub last about 4 days in
    my garden ,but maybe that’s because we have over 30 types of bird visitor`s ” Don`t you just love them ” I buy the Garden Wildlife
    All Year Round mix and add some extras to suite our guest .

  18. How can I discourage pigeons from eating all of the bird food before the smaller birds get a chance? I have feeders in two bushes and a tree, but I ground feed for the blackbirds, if they get a chance to feed at all.