How to feed birds in your garden

How to feed birds in your garden

Find out how to attract birds into your garden all year round.

Blue tit

Attracting birds to your garden is easy! Supplement naturally available food with bird food, and watch them flock! Remember to keep feeders and tables clean so the birds stay healthy and disease-free, and position your feeders in a relatively open area away from predators - the birds will feel safer, and will visit more! 

Five main types of bird food: 

  • Straight seeds – as the name suggests, these seeds aren’t mixed with anything. Straight seeds include black sunflower, niger, oilseed rape, peanuts, red and white millet.
  • Seed mixes – here the seeds are mixed into different blends, with the main advantage being that a greater mix of seed types attracts a greater mix of bird species.
  • Husk-free seed mixes – similar to the above, the seeds in these mixes have had their husks removed and the advantage of this is twofold: much less mess to clear up and birds which can’t crack husks – e.g. Blackbirds – can also eat the mix. Some husk-free mixes also contain other foods like dried mealworms and suet pellets.
  • Suet (also called fat) – this food comes as blocks, balls and pellets. Lots of birds like suet and it provides a vital source of energy for them and particularly in the winter months.
  • Live mealworms – a brilliant food to provide in the breeding and fledgeling season.
Long tailed tits (c) Amy Lewis

Long-tailed tits on feeder (c) Amy Lewis

Five ways of providing food:  

  • Hanging seed feeders - these will attract robins, tits, goldfinches, house sparrows, tree sparrows and greenfinches. 
  • Niger/Nyjer seed feeders - designed to hold tiny niger seed they will attract goldfinches and redpolls.

  • Mesh peanut feeders - peanuts should always be put in mesh feeders to avoid them being chocked on. The mesh means that only small pieces can be pecked out. 

  • Ground and table feeding - some birds will not use feeders and prefer to feed off the ground or table. This includes blackbirds, collared doves, thrushes, dunnocks and robins.

  • Homemade - half coconuts or a pine cone covered in fat or vegetable suet can be hung from a tree or bird table. They will attract tits, greenfinches and house sparrows.

  • Get started with our instructions below!

Bird feeder activity

Top tips

  • Keep feeders clean - this stops the spread of diseases. 
  • Make sure food is available at all times - winter and summer are both key times.
  • Keep feeding stations away from predators - feeders near shrubs make it easy for cats to pounce.
  • Plant food sources - If your garden plants have fruit, berries, hips, seeds and nuts, they'll be a larder for birds, particularly in late summer and autumn. Holly, hawthorn, ivy, rowan, honeysuckle and dogwood all provide tasty treats or attract tasty insects.
  • Only put out what gets eaten - this way you won't attract unwanted guests.
  • Remember water - water is as important as food to most garden birds, and not just for drinking but for bathing as well. So put out a bird bath along with your feeders, and always ensure the water is kept clean. Find out more about providing water for wildlife