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What to Feed Wild Garden Birds

GUIDELINES ON FEEDING WILD BIRDS 

Small seeds such as millet

This type of feed will attract mostly house sparrows, dunnocks, finches, reed buntings and collared doves

Flaked maize

This is taken readily by blackbirds

Peanuts & Sunflower Seeds

Tits and greenfinches favour peanuts and sunflower seeds

Pinhead oatmeal

An excellent choice for many birds

Wheat and barley grains

These are often included in seed mixtures, but they are really only suitable for pigeons, doves and pheasants which feed on the ground and rapidly increase in numbers, frequently deterring the smaller species

Black sunflower seeds

These are an excellent year-round food, and in many areas are even more popular than peanuts. The oil content is higher in black than striped ones, and so they are much better. Sunflower hearts (the husked kernels) are a popular no-mess food.

Nyjer seeds

These are small and black with a high oil content and require a special type of seed feeder.  They are particular favourites with goldfinches and siskins

Whole Peanuts (NEVER FEED SALTED OR ROASED PEANUTS)

These are rich in fat and are popular with tits, greenfinches, house sparrows, nuthatches, great spotted woodpeckers and siskins.  Nuthatches and coal tits may hoard peanuts

Peanuts can be high in a natural toxin which can kill birds, so always buy from a reputable dealer such as our online shop to guarantee freedom from aflatoxin.

Crushed or grated nuts

These will attract robins, dunnocks and even wrens.

Bird cake and food bars

Fat balls and other fat-based food bars provide an excellent winter food.

If they are sold in nylon mesh bags ALWAYS remove the bag before putting the fat ball out as the soft mesh can trap and injure birds.

Live foods and other insect foods

Mealworms are relished by robins and blue tits, and may attract other insect-eating birds such as pied wagtails

Mealworms are a natural food and can be used to feed birds throughout the year. It can become quite expensive to constantly buy mealworms so why not buy dried mealworms from our online shop

NEVER FEED COOKING FAT TO BIRDS - It very often cocontains meat juices which have blended with the fat when cooking.  When this sets, the consistency makes it prone to smearing which is not good for birds' feathers. It creates a breeding ground for bacteria so is potentially bad for birds' health.

Lard and beef suet

Fed on their own, these are fine as they re-solidify after warming and as they are pure fat, it is not as suitable for bacteria to breed on.

Polyunsaturated margarines or vegetable oils - not suitable for birds

Wild birds need high levels of saturated fat, such as raw suet and lard and they need the high energy content to keep warm in the worst of the winter weather, since their body reserves are quickly used up, particularly on cold winter nights. The soft fats can easily be smeared onto the feathers which destroys the waterproofing and insulating qualities.

Dog and cat food

Meaty tinned dog and cat food form an acceptable substitute to earthworms during the warm, dry part of the summer when worms are beyond the birds' reach. Blackbirds readily take dog food, and even feed it to their chicks.  Soaked dog biscuit is excellent, except in hot weather as it quickly dries out.  Petfood can attract larger birds such as magpies and gulls

Dry biscuits are not recommended as birds may choke on the hard lumps. 

NEVER GIVE MILK OR DESSICATED COCONUT TO ANY BIRD - a bird's gut is not designed to digest milk and it can result in serious stomach upsets and even death.
Dessicated coconut swells up inside the bird's stomach and can cause blockages but fresh coconut can be given in it's shell - just rinse out any residues of the sweet coconut water from the middle of the coconut before hanging it out to prevent the build-up of black mildew.

Cheese

Cheese can be digested and mild grated cheese can be a good way of attracting robins, wrens and dunnocks.

Rice and cereals

Cooked rice, brown or white (without salt added) is beneficial and readily accepted by all species during severe winter weather. Uncooked rice may be eaten by birds such as pigeons, doves and pheasants but is less likely to attract other species of bird

Porridge oats must never be cooked as this makes them glutinous and could harden around a bird's beak.  However, uncooked porridge oats are readily taken by a number of bird species

Any breakfast cereal

This is an acceptable birdfood but you need to be careful only to put out small quantities at a time.  It is best offered dry, with a supply of drinking water nearby as it quickly turns into pulp once wet

Mouldy and stale food

Many moulds are harmless but there are some that can cause respiratory infections in birds and so it is best to be cautious and avoid mouldy food entirely

If food turns mouldy or stale on your birdtable

It could be that you are putting out too large a quantity for the birds to eat in one day.  Always remove any stale or mouldy food promptly. 

Stale food provides a breeding ground for salmonella bacteria which can cause food poisoning and at least one type of salmonella causes death among such species as greenfinches and house sparrows.

Large quantities of food scattered on the ground may attract rats and mice and rats can carry diseases that affect humans.