It is most beneficial to feed wild birds during the winter months when their natural food may be unavailable but shortages do occur at other times of the year. So putting food out for the wild birds at any time of year can help when there are shortages. During the breeding season a temporary shortage of food will affect the young fledglings so it is especially helpful to put out food for the birds at this time.

Feeding in the Spring and Summer

During the summer and especially when they are moulting, birds need high protein foods. Good examples to put in your feeder are raisins, currents, black sunflower seeds, grated cheese, meal worms, soaked sultanas and commercially prepared summer seed mixtures. You can also purchase mixes for insect loving wild birds.

For fruit eating birds put out grapes, bananas, apples or pears, suitably chopped into smaller pieces. Avoid the use of peanuts, bread or fats as they can be harmful if taken back to baby birds. Home made fat balls are not really a good idea as they quickly go off in the warm weather. Commercially prepared fat bars are better and last for around three weeks before they must be thrown away.

 During unseasonably cold or wet weather there may insect shortages. If the weather is very dry earthworms become difficult to catch. For birds with young in the nest they will be tempted by food on bird tables during these times so it is essential to make sure any food you put out is suitable for the young birds. Never put out loose peanuts, large pieces of bread, fats or hard, dry food at this time as these can be fatal if taken back to feed the baby birds.

Feeding in the Fall and Winter

During the colder months put food out for the birds regularly, twice a day if possible, especially in very cold weather. The birds need high energy food during this time so foods high in fats are particularly suitable. Put out good quality food and remove any uneaten food regularly.

Attracting Birds to Your Feeder

You can attract different species of birds to your garden by providing the food they like in a suitable feeder. Large birds will need a feeder with large, sturdy perches, hummingbirds will be attracted to a nectar feeder, finches to a thistle feeder. You can also purchase goldfinch feeders, jay feeders and woodpecker feeders.

Types of Bird Feeders

 Feeders suitable for different types of food:

  • Tube feeder – small seeds including thistle seeds
  • Platform feeder – fruit or other food types
  • Hummingbird feeder – nectar
  • Squirrel proof – mesh cage feeders – peanuts, larger seeds, suet
  • Standard type feeder – safflower seeds, sunflower seeds

Food suitable for different species.

  • Bluebird – bluebird seed available to purchase, cornmeal with peanut butter
  • Bunting – small grains and seeds.
  • Blackbirds – breadcrumbs, small seeds and grains
  • Chickadee – sunflower seeds, unsalted nuts, safflower seeds, suet
  • Finches – black sunflower seeds, thistle seeds
  • Jays – peanuts, suet, corn, sunflower
  • Mourning Doves – cracked corn seeds, wheat, sunflower and safflower seeds
  • Mockingbirds – bread, suet, raisins
  • Robins – breadcrumbs, raisins, apples
  • Northern Shrikes – Suet.
  • Siskins – sunflower seeds, thistle seeds
  • Thrashers – suet, raisins, bread
  • Towhee birds – seed mixes for small birds
  • Woodpeckers – cracked corn seeds, wheat, sunflower and safflower seeds
  • Warblers – peanut butter, suet
  • Townsend's Warblers – cheese, peanut butter, suet
  • Yellow Throated Warblers – breadcrumbs.


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