Tips & FAQs

What food is best for birds?

Different birds need different foods to sustain them. If you supply a variety of food you are more likely attract many species.

Household scraps such as pastry, cooked rice and breadcrumbs are enjoyed by many garden birds. Fruit, especially bruised apples and pears, will be popular with thrushes and blackbirds.

When you are buying bird food, try to get a good mix of peanuts, seeds and live food such as mealworms and waxworms. Then you should have something to offer all the birds. Good ready-made mixes should contain sunflower seeds, broken peanuts, flaked maize and smaller seeds such as millet.

What are the best foods to put out for birds during the cold winter weather?

During cold spells your supply of food can save the lives of birds. Make sure you put out food and water on a regular basis. In severe weather, feed twice daily if possible, in the morning and in the early afternoon. Bird cake and food bars are very good because of their high-fat content, as are peanuts. Bird seed mixtures are also high in oils. You can also feed kitchen scraps, such as fat and suet, mild grated cheese, cooked potatoes, pastry and dried fruit.

Can I put out salted peanuts for the birds?

No – most garden birds cannot process salt and will die if they are given too much. It’s best to avoid offering garden birds any foods that contain lots of salt including salted peanuts, salty bacon and chips.

Is it okay to feed peanuts to birds during the breeding season?

It is important during the breeding season to only put out peanuts in metal mesh feeders. This means that birds cannot take whole nuts, which can choke young birds. It is also important not to use nylon mesh bags, as these can trap birds’ feet.

Are mealworms a good food for birds?

Mealworms are full of nutrition and are excellent food for insect-eating birds such as robins, blue tits, wrens and pied wagtails. You can feed them to the birds all year round. In very cold or very dry weather when birds struggle to find worms, insects and spiders in hard ground, mealworms make a good alternative for them.

Where is the best place to put a birdtable in my garden?

Birdtables should be placed where the birds are safe and will be able to feed undisturbed. Avoid putting them near fences or dense hedges, where cats can easily get to them. If there is a small bush nearby, birds can use this as a look-out point to make sure it is safe.

And don’t forget to make sure it is visible from a window so you can enjoy watching the birds as they feed.

What can I use to treat a birdtable?

It is best for the birds if you leave a birdtable untreated. However, it will last longer if you treat it. Water-based preservatives are less toxic and will not affect the food you put out. The preservative should be thoroughly dry before you use the table for feeding.

Should I supply drinking water for my garden birds?

It is good to provide a regular supply of clean water for birds to drink and bathe in.

Water is particularly important during the winter when natural supplies may be frozen, and in dry weather. Shallow containers, like dustbin lids or plant saucers, work well, but make sure you clean them regularly to prevent diseases from spreading.