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How to attract birds into your garden

Jan 16th 2021

One of the best ways to attract wild birds into your garden is by providing a regular source of food. With winter setting in and grounds freezing, our robins, sparrows, thrushes, blackbirds and many more will need help.

This coincides with a national bird feeder boom. According to the Horticulture Trades Association a ‘bored public in lockdown is increasingly interested in attracting feathered visitors’.

Golden rules

  • At this time of year, put out food and water regularly. In severe weather, feed twice daily if you can: in the morning and in the early afternoon.
  • 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 and scraps.
  • 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.
  • Don’t put out salty foods. Birds can’t digest salt and it will damage their nervous systems.
    Only leave enough that can be eaten in one day – otherwise you may attract unwanted visitors, such as mice and rats.
  • Always follow sensible hygiene measures, including washing hands thoroughly after filling and washing feeders.

Sharing your dinner with the birds

Many of your scraps and leftovers make ideal snacks for birds and can help them survive. Here’s a guide from the RSPB

  • Fat – fat from cuts of meat (only unsalted varieties) can be put out in large pieces, from which birds such as tits can remove morsels. Make sure that these are well anchored to prevent large birds flying away with the whole piece. Please remember cooked turkey fat from roasting tins is NOT suitable.
  • Roast potatoes  – cold and opened up, these will be eaten by most garden birds.
  • Vegetables – cold sprouts, parsnips or carrots will be eaten by starlings and other birds, but don’t put out more than will be eaten in one day, otherwise you run the risk of attracting rats.
  • Fruit – excess or bruised apples, pears and other fruit are very popular with all thrushes, tits and starlings. Cut them up and leave them on the bird table or on the ground. 
  • Pastry – cooked or uncooked is excellent, especially if it has been made with real fats. 
  • Cheese – Hard bits of cheese are a favourite with robins, dunnocks, blackbirds and song thrushes. It will also help wrens if placed under hedgerows and other areas in your garden where you have noticed them feeding. Avoid very strong or blue cheeses.
  • Dried fruits – raisins, sultanas and currants are particularly enjoyed by blackbirds, song thrushes and robins.
  • Biscuits and cake – Stale cake and broken pieces of biscuits from the bottom of the tin are high in fat and ideal for birds in the winter.

Get the kids involved with wild bird colouring in templates. Download templates for the bird picture of your choice: Robin,  Chaffinch and  Blue Tit