Foods your garden birds will love this winter

"Scuffle at the Bird Feeder" by Sharon Mollerus

Winter is a harsh time of year, especially for some of the birds who live in our gardens. Many birds combat the cruel weather by migrating to warmer climes, but a lot of birds live here year round. Dunnocks, robins and blackbirds are just a few of the birds who might need a little extra help through the colder months.

As well as helping the birds survive, adding a few choice morsels to your feeders throughout winter can increase not only the amount of birds you attract, but the types of birds who visit.

Here’s a top list of foods your garden birds will love:


“Redhill Wildlife Centre – Aug 2009 – Greenfinch and Young Sparrow” by Gareth Williams

Look for a good mix of sunflower seeds, peanut granules and flaked maize. This is likely to attract a variety of birds, including dunnocks, sparrows, blackbirds, finches, and collared doves.


Available from many outlets, these fit into cage-like holders just right for birds to get their beaks into! Popular with everyone, from the sparrows to the magpies. These are often sold in plastic mesh packaging which the RSPB recommends removing; birds can become tangled and trapped in the mesh.


“Emma’s 2010 Christmas Cake” by brett jordan

A surprising suggestion from the RSPB is leftovers. Yep, birds like cake! Fruit cake and mince pies will probably go down a treat, as will a little grated mild cheese. The RSPB recommends lightly sprinkling this under trees, which will suit shyer birds like dunnocks and wrens. Some fruits are good for the birds, too; apples and pears are likely to be popular.


“Millions of Mealworms” by OakleyOriginals

These tend to be very popular with insect-eating birds, such as robins and pied wagtails, but its better to buy these from trusted professional sources; any dead mealworms may cause salmonella poisoning.

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Breakfast cereal can be an interesting addition to your feeder, but should only be given in small quantities. Oats, too, are acceptable for birds but only uncooked. Cooked oats may stick to beaks and harden so should never be put out on a feeder.

If you’re keeping a feeder in your garden, make sure it is cleaned regularly and that you’re putting water out, too.

After reading so much about the foods birds enjoy, you might feel inspired to make your own home-made bird cake. Try out this recipe.

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