As the weather gets colder, now more than ever is the time to start gathering up reserves for your garden visitors. During the harsh Winter months it’s really important to keep your garden birds well fed and your feeders stocked with a variety of seeds, nuts and fats to keep energy levels up.
As I have just moved house, I don’t yet know what types of birds will be visiting my garden so instead have opted to cover all bases. I thought this would be a good opportunity to show you what types of food you can and should feed the different varieties of bird you may find in your garden, as well as some dos and don’ts to keep your garden birds happy and healthy.
When buying bird seed/food it’s important to buy the best quality you can afford, as this will ensure you’re buying something that will nourish birds – not just junk food and ash. However, that said, you do not need to spend a fortune to find good seed mixes. There are lots of places you can go to pick up food that your birds will eat and benefit from and all without breaking the bank. As I’m a little strapped for money right now, I had a shop round to find the most reasonable prices for the best quality mixes.
Peckish Winter Warmer – General Seed Mix, £2 From Wilko
The first thing I picked up was the Winter Warmer seed mix from Peckish. This is a large bag with a good variety of seeds in designed to provide extra energy to your garden birds. Most birds will eat a general seed mix so, if you can only afford to purchase one thing this would probably be the most important. That said, I’ve noticed that robins, sparrows, pigeons, turtle doves and blackbirds are the most likely to go for a general seed mix, with other birds such as blue tits, great tits etc preferring other options.
Peckish Dried Mealworms £2 From Wilko
I also picked up this big resealable bag of dried mealworms. Live mealworms are much more nourishing than dried, but harder to find and store (and if you’re squeamish like me you might want to skip on these.) My quails and pet hedgehog also love mealworms as a treat so I always have these in my home. Most birds will eat dried mealworms however I have found that robins in particular really enjoy them as well as blackbirds.
Pet Place Wild Bird Fat Balls, Pack of 12 £1 From Pound Land
Fat balls are really important during the colder months as these provide plenty of energy for birds. Unfortunately I left my fat ball feeder behind in my old garden (I knew I would forget something!) but because the birds love them so much I still picked up a pack of 12 and popped one in the bird seed tray instead. All types of birds eat these, but I have found they are a favourite among robins, great tits, blue tits and long tailed tits.
Wildly Tasty Peanuts In A Net 50p From Wilko
Peanuts are an absolute essential if your garden is visited by blue tits or great tits as this is their main source of food on a feeder. I picked up this net of them cheaply from Wilkos but I must stress- you should remove them from the net! To best serve these peanuts you need a special peanut feeder (it looks like a regular seed feeder but with bars that the birds can cling on to.) We’ve even had a parakeet in my garden eating from our peanut feeder!
Wildly Tasty Coconut Suet Feeder (Mealworm flavour) £1 from Wilko
Suet is perfect for Winter, although if you’re buying fat balls you can probably skip on this one as the two are pretty similar. That said I’ve found these coconut feeders are always really popular with robins, blue tits, great tits, long tailed tits, coal tits and others. Plus there’s no need for additional feeders/containers as the coconut has a little rope you can hang it from.
Wildly Tasty Sunflower Hearts £1.50 From Wilko
Sunflower hearts are a great boost for your feathered friends. These are favoured among blue tits, great tits, robins and blackbirds.
Chia Seed / Nyger Seed
And last but not least I put out some chia seed which was purchased a while ago in a specialist bird shop. This was actually purchased for our own red polls to keep their feathers in good condition, however wild birds also eat this. Put out chia seed or nyger seeds for birds such as goldfinches, wild red polls etc. This seed is a little fiddly and requires a specialist feeder however you can usually buy the two together as a set. You can also find these in Wilko!
So here is our feeder. It’s a little rusty as we’ve had it for a couple of years but it has been previously well visited and loved! As you can see we have lots of different types of feeders in place for the different types of seed/food. These are as follows:
Seed feeder, peanut feeder, nyger seed holder, seed tray, water tray.
So you’ve got all the different food types covered. Finally here are some dos and don’ts to help you attract the birds and keep them healthy and happy.
- Always remember to put out water. Birds need to drink too!
- You can put nesting materials such as straw etc on the seed tray, although this is more needed when birds nest in the Spring.
- If you’re not sure what type of birds are visiting your feeder, use the RSPB bird identifier which you can access here to help you identify your feathered friends and then cater to their diet.
- Place your feeder near trees/bushes if possible as birds like to be near somewhere they can take cover if needs be.
- Be patient, attracting garden birds takes time.
- Occasionally put out a tiny piece of mature cheddar as a special treat for robins.
- Don’t feed your garden birds bread. Even if it’s what your mum used to do or your grandma. Bread is junk food for birds and will make them unwell.
- Similarly, don’t feed your birds scraps. Buy special mixes for them.
- If you have a household cat that is likely to catch birds, it’s probably not a good idea to encourage birds in to your garden.
- Don’t buy a general seed mix and expect to see a variety of birds in your garden. If you want to see different birds you need to buy lots of different seeds/nuts to encourage them in.
Finally, my seed and nut mix suggestions are based on my general knowledge of birds and observing the birds in my own garden. Different seeds and nuts might work differently from you. Remember, certain birds are more common in certain areas than others!
Do you have any garden visitors? And will you be lending a helping hand to our feathered friends this Winter?