When and what to feed garden birds
Although winter feeding benefits birds most, food shortages can occur at any time of the year. By feeding all year round, you'll give them a better chance to survive food shortages whenever they may occur.
Autumn and winter
At this time of year, put out food and water on a regular basis.
In severe weather, feed twice daily if you can: in the morning and in the early afternoon are the best times.
Birds require high-energy (high-fat) foods during the cold winter weather to maintain their fat reserves to survive the frosty nights.
Use only good-quality food, like our energy and winter mixes,
made using premium ingredients, all of which are available in-store.
Always adjust the quantity given to the demand, and never allow
uneaten foods to accumulate around the feeders. Once you
establish a feeding routine, try not to change it as the birds will
become used to it and time their visits to your garden accordingly
Spring and summer
During the summer months, birds require high protein foods, especially while they are moulting.
Only feed selected foods at this time of year. Good hygiene is vital, the warmer weather can make food go off quicker, providing ideal conditions for harmful bacteria. Keep your bird tables and the surrounding areas clean and free from droppings or mouldy food, otherwise feeding may do more harm than good.
These foods include:
Black sunflower seeds, pinhead oatmeal, soaked sultanas, raisins and currants, mild grated cheese, mealworms, waxworms, mixes for insectivorous birds, good seed mixtures without loose peanuts,
Our summer seed mixture's are all good foods to provide. Soft apples and pears cut in half, bananas and grapes are also good.
Some people use soaked dog or cat food and tinned pet foods, but these may attract magpies, crows and cats.
Avoid using peanuts, fat and bread at this time, since these can be harmful if adult birds feed them to their nestlings. If you feel you must put out peanuts, only do so in suitable mesh feeders that will not allow sizeable pieces of peanuts to be taken, reducing the choking risk to chicks.
Home-made fat balls can go soft and rancid in warm summer weather, and should be avoided. Commercially produced fat bars are suitable for summer feeding but discard any remains after three weeks.
Temporary food shortage can occur at almost any time of the year, and if this happens during the breeding season, extra food on your bird table can make a big difference to the survival of young.
Birds time their breeding period to exploit the availability of natural foods: earthworms in the case of blackbirds and song thrushes, and caterpillars in the case of tits and chaffinches. It is now known that if the weather turns cold orwet during spring or summer, a severe shortage of insect food can occur, and if the weather isexceptionally dry, earthworms will be unavailable to ground feeding birds because of the hard soil. In order to help with this, buggy nibbles and mealworms can be provided during these times to prevent starvation.
Natural food shortages
If food shortages occur when birds have young in
the nest they may be tempted by easy food put on
bird tables to make up the shortfall in natural food,
initially to feed themselves, but if the situation gets
bad enough, they will also take the food to the nest.
If the food offered on your bird table isn't suitable for
the young chicks, it can do more harm than good, and
can even be lethal to the chicks as they can choke on
It can be difficult for a human to gauge when food shortage in the wild occurs, and hence it is best not to put out food that is likely to create problems during the breeding season.
Therefore, never put out loose peanuts, dry hard foods, large chunks of bread, or fats during the spring or summer months.
Come in-store to see our selection of wild bird feeders and seed mixes