Feeding wild birds is a good idea for a number of reasons; not least because the wild bird song in your garden is a lovely soundtrack! But, did you know, they eat a lot more than the nectar, suet and seeds you know. Wild birds also love to feast on spiders, snails, worms and other insects nesting in your garden, not to mention the natural food sources like weeds. That said, there are a few things to be aware of when feeding wild birds…
1. Things to avoid (types of foods)
There are a lot of household foods stocked in our fridges and cupboards that birds love to nibble on, such as leftover (cooked) rice, boiled potatoes and soft fruits without any seeds eg bananas & berries. Other foods however such as milk, chocolate, fruit pits, seeds and avocado can be really dangerous to birds.
Milk, for example, can result in serious health problems when fed to birds. It’s also not uncommon for people to try feeding chocolate to birds as they assume they’ll find it just as delicious as we do, but chocolate can cause the birds to experience seizures, diarrhoea and, in some cases, it can be fatal.
Any seed mixtures that contain beans, split peas, dried rice or lentils are only deemed suitable to larger species of wild birds.
Do not use salted or dry roasted peanuts as they contain a natural toxin called aflatoxin (peanuts that are unsalted, fresh and sold for either human consumption or by a feed shop are fine, but they must be put in a wire mesh feeder to avoid choking.)
2. What you should feed wild birds
In addition to leftover foods from our kitchen cupboards (uncooked & unsalted bacon rind, porridge oats, cheese and sultanas), there are other foods stocked in pet stores, like Rooke’s, specifically for wild birds that they just love.
Fat balls & suet balls, mealworms & waxworms and grains & seeds (millet, sunflower & nyjer) are all favourites among wild birds and can be a great way to attract lots of visitors to your garden every day.
3. When you should feed wild birds
Not only do you need to consider what to feed wild birds, but it’s also worthwhile thinking about when to feed them. Food shortages can happen at any time of the year which is why all-year-round feeding is best. That said, winter feeding does tend to be the most beneficial as this is when most food shortages tend to occur.
Wild birds tend to roost at sunset so the earlier you put food out for them, the better.
By feeding birds all-year-round, you will give them the best possible chance of surviving food shortages, whenever they may happen. We have a range of wild bird food at Rooke’s which you can find out more about here.
4. How to feed them
Hanging up a seed or peanut feeder is the best way to attract a large number of birds to your garden. There are a lot of different sizes and types of feeders to choose from, commonly made from either plastic or metal. Some feeders have a cage around them to discourage larger birds and squirrels taking all the goods in one go.
You can get hopper-type feeders with flat surfaces (or trays) which are well suited to standard mixes, although any type of seed mix can be used.
Be sure that the feeder you choose drains well and remember to check for a build-up of unwanted, spoilt food as this can be a health risk to birds – which is the last thing you want!
5. Things to be aware of
It’s a good idea to feed birds little and often; it’s better to top up your bird feeder gradually rather than leaving lots of food out all of the time (it will stop the food from spoiling).
If possible, create a few different feeding sites in your garden as this will stop overcrowding and hot competition amongst the birds. When cleaning your feeder or bird table, be sure to use a mild disinfectant – nothing too strong.
If you want to learn more about what & when to feed wild birds, why not pop in store for a chat with one of our helpful members of staff? We have our very own range of Rooke’s branded bird food in store for you to browse.