What do they like to eat?
You can feed wild birds lots of different kinds of food all year round but certain foods are preferred by different species. Here are some tips on what types of foods are suitable.
Peanuts may attract many birds due to their high fat content. Whole or kibbled peanuts are a popular choice. Never use salted, roasted or any type of peanut not intended for birds – they contain a high level of toxins which can be dangerous.
Seeds provide birds with a balanced diet and are available in a wide range of mixtures. You can place seeds in abird feeder, on a bird table or scatter them on the ground. Nyjerseed is a firm favourite for siskins and goldfinches. These small, black seeds have a high oil content and require a special feeder which can be found at your local Pets at Home store. Many garden visitors also enjoy sunflower seeds. Birds will not eat the husks as they prefer the heart so buying pre-husked sunflower hearts can prevent a scattering of husks around the bird table.
Fat / suet treats
These mainly consist of lard and include many extra ingredients such as seeds, peanuts or even insects, creating a tasty treat enjoyed by a wide range of garden birds. Always remember to remove the nylon mesh bag as the soft mesh can trap and injure birds.
You can also feed the birds kitchen scraps, mild cheese, potatoes, pastry and cooked rice. Ripened fruit is welcomed by some garden birds. Bread is another favourite and despite its low nutritional value it’s fine for birds providing it’s kept moist.
When should you feed them?
You’ll get different birds visiting your garden according to the season. Many people believe that it’s only necessary to feed the birds in winter. However, with depleting natural food sources birds can become dependent on the food we provide and may use up vital energy travelling to your garden. If there’s no food when they arrive, they may not have the strength to go elsewhere so it’s best to feed them all year round.
Most small birds need to drink at least twice a day to replace lost water. They also need to bathe to keep their feathers in good condition. You should leave a regular supply of fresh water out for them all year round especially in summer when the weather is hot and dry and in winter when natural supplies of water tend to freeze up.