If you’re new to bird feeding or daunted by the choice on offer from bird food suppliers, then we have picked 5 essential bird foods that will attract different species of birds to your garden.
You could start off with all 5 or introduce 1 or 2 to discover which works best for the birds in your area.
Peanuts are one of the most versatile foods you can feed to wild birds and they will attract a number of species to your garden. They are packed with vital fats and protein and are especially good during the winter months when natural food sources are scarce and birds need plenty of energy to keep warm and prepare for the breeding season ahead.
If you choose to feed birds peanuts during the spring and early months of summer then ensure you don’t put out whole nuts which chicks can choke on. Either buy peanut granules or crush them up yourselves. You should also make sure you offer peanuts that are supplied for birds as peanuts contain a natural toxin which can be harmful to birds.
If you’ve ever struggled to attract finches to your garden with niger seed, then you might find that sunflower hearts make a better alternative. Sunflower hearts are the hulled seeds of sunflowers and are a fantastic source of vitamins, fat, protein and fibre so are perfect for feeding the wild birds in your garden.
Best of all, because they no longer have the shell on them, smaller birds will find sunflower hearts easier to eat, birds will waste less energy cracking them open and hey will leave minimal mess under the bird feeders in your garden.
Fat balls are one of the most popular foods you can choose for the birds in your garden; they are packed with energy and nutrients which are vital for birds all year around but especially during breeding season and during the cold winter months. Fat balls are usually made from suet and can also include seeds, grains, fruit and insects. Many fat balls also include calcium carbonate, which not only helps bind them together but also is important for laying females to help form their eggs.
Fat balls should be kept in a cool place during storage to prevent them going rancid. And if you buy fat balls that are individually wrapped in nets, remove them before you put them out, as birds can get their legs tangled in them causing injuries or even death.
Dried mealworms are packed with protein and can be offered to birds throughout the year. They are a food best served near the ground as they are popular with ground-feeding birds such as robins, wrens, and thrushes. Mealworms can be served on their own or mixed with other foods such as dried fruit, nuts and seeds, or melted into fat balls. During breeding season dried mealworms should be soaked so that baby birds do not choke on them.
If you’re not too squeamish you can breed your own supply of live mealworms, but dried mealworms are a convenient way of attracting insectivorous birds to your garden.
An all-purpose wild bird seed mix can be used all year round to attract a variety of species to your garden. Seed mixes will typically include a mix of sunflower seeds, maize, rolled oats, pinhead oatmeal, millet, kibbled peanuts, and niger seed. If you choose a seed mix that has been husked you will find there is less waste and mess, and the seeds will not grow if they are spilt on the ground.
Seed mixes are a versatile food that can be used in bird feeders, on bird tables, or scattered on the ground. They can also be mixed with suet to make fat feeders, or supplemented with insects or fruit depending on the birds you want to attract to your garden.