The most important time to feed garden birds is winter and early spring. However, offering food all year round is even more beneficial, especially as birds will get used to regular feeding and visit your garden accordingly.
Caption: Feed birds throughout the year
Little and often
The best way to avoid spilled seed making a mess on the ground – whether it grows or not – is to feed the birds little and often, rather than putting out lots of food at once. Also tidy up spilled food regularly.
Caption: Feed birds little and often
Try using fat balls instead of loose seed mixes. These are usually made from a mixture of suet and various seeds, and are popular with blue tits, great tits, robins and long-tailed tits.
Put out a range of foods to attract a wider variety of species – along with seeds and nuts, try mealworms, which are favoured by robins, blue tits and pied wagtails. You can buy mealworms fresh or dried. Meaty tinned dog or cat food can be used as a substitute for earthworms during dry summers – blackbirds will take it and even feed it to their chicks. Be warned, though: this will also attract larger birds such as magpies and gulls.
Caption: Mealworms make a great food for birds
Feeding the birds doesn’t have to be expensive. A range of kitchen scraps are suitable for putting on the bird table. Small amounts of crumbled, moistened bread, leftover baked or mashed potato and pastry scraps are all welcome snacks. Grated cheese is popular with robins, wrens, thrushes and dunnocks,
while robins, thrushes, tits, blackbirds and starlings all enjoy dried fruits (soak them first during spring and summer) and bruised or partly rotten apples, pears, plums and other stone fruit.
Peanuts and fat balls are often sold in mesh bags, which birds can become trapped in. Always transfer the food to a wire cage feeder.
Caption: Remove nets around fat balls to avoid birds being hurt
Position bird tables and feeders in a spot that makes it difficult for cats to reach, but close to a leafy bush or tree that birds can use as cover.
Caption: Put bird tables in a safe place for birds to access
Clean your feeders, bird tables and bird bath regularly with boiling water to reduce the risk of disease.
Caption: Regular cleaning will help keep birds safe from infections