Our guide to feeding our feathered friends, whatever your outdoor situation
Garden birds are a quintessential part of the English country garden. With the Big Garden Birdwatch coming up on the 27–29 January, there’s never been a better time to bake bird cakes, spread a seedy buffet out and invite the local feathered community around to dine. As any chef will know, presentation is key when putting out a spread, so follow our guide to find the best bird feeder for you.
One of the most popular types of hanging feeders, seed feeders can attract a wide variety of species to your garden, including sparrows, tits, finches and siskins. Available with plastic or metal fittings, they come in a wide variety of sizes and styles and are suitable for sunflower seeds, sunflower hearts, or any free-flowing feeder seed mix. Metal fittings usually last longer than plastic and they are more resistant to squirrel damage.
A ground feeding table is an excellent lure for blackbirds, thrushes, wrens and robins. Be wary though, the low-level feeder can make your visitors more susceptible to predators. Positioning it well away from shrubs and trees will help protect your guests from lurking cats.
Nut and nibble feeders
These feeders can also be used to feed suet nibbles, which are a great alternative to peanuts. They’re often popular with tits, woodpeckers, nuthatches and other species that cling.
Suet feeders come in many shapes and sizes. Some are suitable for suet balls, others for suet cakes. Some are multi-purpose and can be used for either balls or cakes. Suet feeders are particularly popular with members of the tit family and starlings.
These are perfect for bird lovers who don’t have a garden. Fill them with anything from mealworms, nibbles or bird seed, stick them to your window and watch the birds arrive.
What to feed birds in the winter?
Feeding birds doesn’t have to break the bank. Extend those Christmas leftovers with an offering of fruit cakes, mince pies, dried fruit, unsalted nuts and apples and pears. Grating mild cheese and hiding it under bushes can be a brilliant way to attract more timid birds such as wrens and dunnocks. You can also get crafty and make your own bird cake. Combine lard or suet with a mix of seeds and fruit, letting it set and hanging it up in the garden. You’ll have sparrows lining up round the street for a taste of your homemade special.
Taking part in the big garden Birdwatch
The Big Garden Birdwatch has been run by the RSPB since 1979. Last year, over 500,000 people took part in helping to track the numbers and health of our local birdlife.
For more information, check out www.rspb.org.uk