How to feed your garden Birds
Different bird species prefer feeding in different ways. There are those that like to feed from feeders such as greenfinches, siskins & tits and others that prefer to feed from the ground or table such as blackbirds, thrushes & dunnocks. If you need help identifying the birds in your garden take a look at our bird guide. Feeders should be placed in a secure location, with good all round vision and easy access to trees or shrubs in order that the birds can feel secure from predators such as cats and hawks. Birds are becoming more apt at adapting to their surrounding and food source so you will see more and more of the larger bird breeds learning to balance from feeders in an effort to maximise the available food source.
Seed Feeders & Peanut Feeders
Seed feeders come in a wide range of designs usually transparent containers with holes, through which the birds can access the seed. Seed feeders are readily available for filling with suitable seed mixes, or individual seeds most of which can also be fed from the ground or table. Food can become mouldy and compressed in feeders during wet periods so it’s recommended that you check them regularly replacing food and cleaning the feeder when necessary.
Peanut feeders are made of various materials; plastic, wood, steel, ceramic but all have wire mesh through which the birds can feed on the peanuts. The wire mesh design prevents birds from taking whole peanuts which can cause choking especially to the young birds during spring and summers. Peanuts can become mouldy and compressed in feeders during wet periods so it’s recommended that you check them regularly replacing food and cleaning the feeder when necessary.
Specialist Product Feeder
Niger feeders are available & recommended for feeding Niger seed. Niger seed is particularly popular with goldfinches and siskins; this product is extremely light and fine and will blow away if fed from the ground or table.
Also available are fat ball feeders, fat balls should be fed from a feeder rather than the net they are packed in, as birds can easily get their feet trapped in the nets. Suet blocks are also best fed from a suitable Suet block feeder.
Bird Tables Bird Tables & Bird Bath
Bird tables are an ideal way of dispensing food to your garden visitors. Tables can be made of many different materials but they should all have suitable drainage holes at the lowest point to ensure that the rain can drain away and the seed can dry out. They can have a roof or be of a flat bed tray design, the tray/table area should have a rim in order to retain the food and help prevent the food being blown or falling off the table.If you choose a design with a roof ensure the roof overhangs the table base so rain drips onto the floor not the table. All tables should be cleaned regularly and any uneaten food removed and replaced with fresh food weekly.
Bird tables offer your garden birds some protection from the commonest garden predator the family cat, as well as better vision Ground feeding Most birds will feed from the ground as well as from feeders or from the bird table. However the smaller birds can be intimidated by the larger birds and shy away from ground feeding in favour of the table or feeders.
Ground feeding attracts larger birds like blackbirds, thrushes, doves also often the medium sized house – sparrows. House sparrows are now becoming extremely experienced and frequent visitors to the seed & peanut feeders.
Feeding from the ground leaves the birds more exposed to the unwanted attention of cats, as their all round vision is restricted more by feeding at ground level.
The best way to feed from the ground is off a shallow tray in an open area with all round vision, this contains the food in one area and enables the birds to see cats more easily should they approach. When fed from a shallow tray it also means you can clean up any left over food reducing the risk of attracting mice. Always ensure you clean any container weekly to reduce infection. See our tips on keeping your feeding equipment clean.
Take a look at our choice of feeders.
Don’t forget the importance of fresh water being readily available.