It is very rewarding when you see different birds visiting your garden to feed. As well as helping the survival of garden birds, particularly in winter months, encouraging them into your garden has a therapeutic effect and is known to reduce stress levels in people of all ages.
How to choose the right food for the right feeder
Most seeds can now be purchased in specialist mixes. However, to encourage different birds you can purchase individual seeds; we love Nyjer seeds which are small and black with high oil content. They need a special feeder but it is worth investing as these little seeds are a particular favourite of colourful Siskins and Goldfinches.
Sunflower seeds are an excellent all year-round food and enjoyed by most garden bird species. Better to use these in a feeder rather than a table as the larger birds will take over.
Peanuts, high in fat, are popular with Magpies, Tits, Greenfinches, House Sparrows and may even attract Great Spotted Woodpeckers and Siskins. However, feed with caution. Use a specialist peanut feeder and do not feed during the breeding season.
How to make a winter bird feeder
It’s especially important to feed the birds during the cold winter months and they are grateful for food when there is snow on the ground when they’re not likely to find food elsewhere.
You will need:
A small plastic pot
Bamboo skewer / Wooden chopsticks
Lard (Energy provider)
- Use two sticks of equal length (15cm is sufficient) or cut a bamboo skewer/chopstick in half.
- Make an ‘X’ with the sticks and secure with tape or string. Make a hole in the bottom of your pot with a knife and thread the string up through the hole. Secure around the X and then thread back down through the hole (make sure you leave plenty of string before cutting so you can make a loop for hanging once complete).
- In a bowl mix together half a pack of lard with birdseed. You can add dried fruit, crushed peanuts, even fruit like banana and apple.
- Press and push your mixture into the pot ensuring it is compact and is against the sticks. Leave it in the fridge to harden and once nice and hard, remove it from the pot and hang your feeder where you can enjoy, no pun intended, the fruits of your labour.
- If you want to attract goldfinches add some sunflower hearts
- Substitute lard for peanut butter to attract Robins – add mealworms for an even higher chance of them becoming residents in your garden!
How to attract more unusual birds to your garden
Woodpeckers and Bullfinches are shy but may visit your garden for suet. You can purchase it in pellets and both these birds will prefer them to be spread across the ground in and around protected shrubs and trees.
A pond filled with fish, water plants and insects can be a perfect feeding ground for Cranes, Moorhens, Ducks or even a Grey Heron. You may even have the pleasure of a Kingfisher.
How to look after your garden birds
The RSPB recommend you feed birds all year round giving them a better chance of survival during food shortages which can occur at any time in the year. Remember birds need water as well as food so make sure they have plenty of fresh water daily.
How to clean your feeding station
When a large number of birds are attracted into an area to feed, there is a danger of disease. Clean both the feeders and the area around the feeders regularly outside with warm water and a drop of washing up liquid. Make sure you wear gloves and wash your hands after cleaning.