Q What are fat balls for feeding birds?
A Fat balls are a popular food to buy for garden birds. They are made of suet and dry food, such as peanuts and sunflower seeds.
Never buy fat balls surrounded by plastic mesh as this is a hazard for small birds as they can easily get entangled in it.
Caption: Fat balls are a popular way of feeding birds
Q What sort of feeder should I use for fat balls?
A Feeders for fat balls come in an enormous range of shapes and sizes. We'd advise you look out for one that doesn't contain too many balls, so that the birds can eat them for before they start to disintegrate. Squirrels will remove fat balls wholesale, so do invest in a 'squirrel-proof' feeder if this is likely to be a problem.
Site your feeder close to cover, such as a leafy bush or tree, so that small birds can hop on and off quickly to avoid predators. Place it where local cats won't be able to access it.
Q When should I feed birds?
A We often think of feeding the birds as a winter job, but actually their winter food sources, such as berries and nuts, will often last them through until mid-winter or beyond. February, March and April are important times to feed the birds, as summer insects will have yet to emerge and winter food sources will be running low.
Q Why do fat balls sometimes fall apart?
A The most popular fat balls with birds have high suet content and tend to be quite soft. This makes them easy for the birds to eat, but also means that they have a tendency to fall apart. Don't worry if this happens. If you have a problem with rats, pick up the pieces and pop them on to a bird table; otherwise ground-feeding birds, such as chaffinches, blackbirds and starlings, will appreciate the treat.
Q Which types of birds eat fat balls?
A Blue tits, great tits, dunnocks, long-tailed tits and robins are commonly seen eating fat balls in the UK.