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What Should I Feed the Birds in my Garden?

What Should I Feed the Birds in my Garden?


There’s nothing more relaxing than seeing birds hopping around and enjoying your garden, but what should you feed them to ensure they keep coming back? That all depends on the types of birds you’re seeing. Here we’ll cover the most common garden visitors and their favourite foods, so you can ensure your bird table gets a ‘five-starling’ rating.

General considerations for feeding birds

Mixed birdseeds

Mixed birdseeds are great all year round, but it’s worth looking at what they contain. Small birds won’t get much from yellow split peas, beans, lentils, or rice. These are only really any good for bigger birds – doves, pigeons, pheasants and the like. For smaller birds, opt for sunflower hearts, niger seeds, and smaller grains.

(Not sure you’ll see pheasants in your neck of the woods? You might be ‘pheasantly’ surprised! One of our writers saw one wandering past his house in the centre of Bath a few weeks ago. He’s a better writer than photographer, but here’s some proof anyway. If you squint really hard, you can see the pheasant beating a hasty retreat in the top right.)

Fat balls

Fat balls and suet cones are great for feeding birds in winter. However, some come in nylon mesh bags. It’s best to remove these to stop birds getting caught in the holes. Instead, you can poke a hole in your fat balls and put a string through them. You could also use a fat ball bird feeder or just leave them on your bird table!

Want some ready-to-go options? Check out our Eco Bird Food Suet Tube and Eco Bird Food Suet Cone.


Raw nuts can be fantastic foods for birds, but allow us to emphasise the ‘raw’ part. No roasted peanuts, please! They should also be unsalted. You could put them out in a peanut bird feeder or place them on a feeding table. Try grinding the nuts down to help out smaller birds like robins, wrens, and nuthatches.

What to feed robins

From ‘beakfast’ to dinner, robins love to eat worms, insects, seeds, and fruits. However, some of these are a bit wriggly/skittery for your bird table or bird feeder. Instead, try putting out fruits such as raisins. Mealworms, seeds, suet, crushed peanuts, and sunflower hearts also go down well.

What to feed blue tits

For blue tits, a seedy restaurant has the right sort of reputation! They enjoy mixed seeds and peanuts, and they’ll also eat insects and mealworms. Fill your bird feeder with some of these and they’ll be happy to tuck in.

What to feed blackbirds

Blackbirds will mainly snack on the insects in your garden rather than your feeders, but they love fruit and seeds too. Suet containing insects or berries will be the most likely options to entice them to your table.

What to feed house sparrows

House sparrows are also fans of seedy establishments! Top up your feeders with mixed seeds and sunflower seeds and they’ll soon be winging their way to your garden.

What to feed starlings

Anything and everything! (Within reason. Perching a live badger on your bird table won’t go down well, for more than a few reasons…) Starlings are greedy little birds, but they’re comical to watch as they shovel as much food down as they can. Any bird food you put down will be greatly enjoyed by a starling, from seeds, to fruit, to insects.

What to feed chaffinches

The chaffinch is another bird that’s happy to receive any type of food (live badgers notwithstanding). Seeds, fruit, chopped peanuts, and sunflower hearts are great choices to help your garden clinch a chaffinch or two.

What to feed goldfinches

Goldfinches enjoy particular types of seeds: alder, birch, thistle, and dandelion… though these aren’t quite so easy to come by. Instead, try topping up your bird feeder with niger seed, which is also a firm favourite.

What to feed greenfinches

Greenfinches eat insects, buds, and shoots. They’ll also be pleased to visit your bird table for peanuts and sunflower seeds. (Insects, Buds and Shoots would make a great title for a follow-up to the grammar book Eats, Shoots and Leaves. We think so anyway.)

What to feed wrens

Wrens mainly eat insects and spiders, so they’re you’re friends if you’re an arachnophobe! However, they’re also partial to mealworms, natural peanut butter, and peanut hearts.

We hope this guide will help your garden rise to the top of the pecking order when it comes to feeding birds. If you want to join them for dinner without scaring them away, catch all the action with our bird feeder cameras.

We’d love to hear about your feathered visitors, so share your avian stories and footage with us on Facebook,Twitter, and Instagram!

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