We love seeing the birds in our garden, and we know that you do too; but who doesn’t? Not only are they amazing to look at, from the avid bird watcher to those of us who aren’t, but they can also help control garden pests, and in return to visiting your garden, why not give them a happy stay and reason to come back.
The best way to a bird’s heart is by their food, and different foods will attract other birds to your garden, so be sure if you are attracting a specific breed to your garden to check out our suggestions below.
What food do Wild Garden birds eat?
The RSPCA suggests that garden birds will eat the below foods;
- Suitable seeds and grains (like nyjer millet oats and sunflower seeds)
- Peanuts only if they’re unsalted fresh and sold for human consumption or by a reputable feed shop (to protect chicks from being fed whole nuts and choking provide peanuts in good quality mesh feeders).
- Cooked pasta or rice and boiled potatoes.
- Uncooked and unsalted bacon rind.
- Raisins and sultanas.
- Net-free fat or suet balls attract a wide range of species and provide a great boost of calories.
- Apples pears and soft fruits are popular and are a great autumn food.
- Insects such as mealworms or wax worms.
Specific food for different birds
When it comes to leaving food for garden birds, it’s a good idea to offer them a range of natural and supplement food not only will this attract more birds into your garden, but it will also provide them with a nutritional diet.
However, different foods will attract different birds, so observing which birds are local to your area is a great first step. Not only this, but their nutritional needs can vary depending on the season also.
Supplement foods include items like seeds, mealworms, nectar or cracked corn; these are particularly good for those who don’t have the room for a large garden to be filled with natural products to attract birds.
These are some of the most nutritional foods you could feed your garden birds; all varieties of the sunflower seeds are harvested from Helianthus annuus, a sunflower plant.
Rich in vitamins and minerals such as calcium, vitamin B, iron, potassium, fat and protein are everything essential birds will need. The two most common sunflower seeds you will find are sunflower hearts and black sunflower seeds;
Sunflower Hearts Seeds
A perfect option for smaller birds is that they are easy for them to eat, especially a great option during the winter months to save their energy trying to crack open the shells, which means less mess in the garden – win, win!
High in protein and oil, they will provide your wild birds with everything you need; however, due to the high oil contents in these, make sure you store them in a cool area, as in the hot weather, they can go rancid.
What birds will Sunflower hearts seeds attract?
This seed’s biggest fans are the Goldfinches and Great/ Blue/Long-tailed Tit, but other birds such Goldfinch, Robin, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Starling, Siskin, Chaffin, Greenfinch, House Sparrow and Collared Dove may also eat these.
Black Sunflower Seeds
This option will attract such a wide range of birds, as it is their preferred option. Being a high energy food and high oil content, they are slightly more beneficial. They are a perfect option for all-year-round food, but the only downside to these seeds is the husks left behind!
What birds will black sunflower seeds attract?
Sparrows, Jays, Greenfinch, Tits.
One of the most popular seeds to feed wild birds, they are packed with vitamin B, iron and protein. It is easy for birds to digest; in particular, white millet is the crowd favourite.
What birds will millet attract?
Sparrows, dunnock, finches, reed bunting, doves and juncos are examples of birds that love millet.
Perfect for the smaller birds in your area, this seed packed with highly nutritious ingredients and rich oil content; Nyjer seeds will provide your birds with the energy they need.
Although it is a great all year round feeder, during the winter months, it is even more beneficial by giving your birds an extra calorie hit for the cold winter months. These seeds will, however, need a specific bird feeder.
What birds will Nyjer seeds attract?
Goldfinches are a massive fan of this seed, as well as siskins, but this seed will attract tits, house sparrows, nuthatches, greenfinches, doves and great spotted woodpeckers too.
High in protein, rich in unsaturated fats, peanuts are a great option to feed wild garden birds, supplying them with everything they need.
There are a few things to be mindful of when buying peanuts, avoid using salted/dry roasted/roasted; they can also be harmful due to being high in a natural toxin, so always buy from a reputable seller.
Also, please place them in a mesh feeder and avoid giving loose nuts to the birds during the spring and summer months.
What birds will Peanuts attract?
Crushed or grated nuts will attract robins, dunnocks and even wrens. In addition, nuthatches and coal tits may hoard peanuts.
Although this may come across as strange, this is a great option to offer your birds during the colder months, especially in colder climates, due to its high amount of calories providing a high energy boost, which is an excellent source of protein for birds.
Peanut butter can be smeared onto tree bark or slather pine cones in peanut butter and dip them in birdseed.
What birds will Peanut butter attract?
Blue jays, woodpeckers, wrens and nuthatches are all massive fans of peanut butter.
Packed with vital high energy ingredients that will give your garden birds the energy they need, they are a popular choice throughout the year.
Easy for birds to digest suet is the hard fat around the kidneys and loins in beef and mutton – it is a quick source of heat and energy.
What birds will Suet pellets attract?
These pellets will entice a wide range of birds, including those in particular that are insect-eating; woodpeckers, nuthatches, chickadees, jays, starlings, wrens, creepers and kinglets; sometimes cardinals and warblers will visit for this.
A semi-natural way of feeding birds, however, to avoid illnesses like salmonella purchase from a reputable seller. Mealworms have a high source of protein, calcium and also vitamins for a wide range of birds. We would also suggest using live mealworms instead of dried as these have the advantage of providing moisture essential for young birds in the nest.
What birds will Mealworms attract?
Blackbirds, blackcap, Bluetip, great tip, robins, starling, wrens, song thrush, nuthatch, and dunnock are examples of birds that will visit to feed on this as they can attract others.
This type of food is an ideal way to attract wild birds into your garden without keeping topping up and buying food; although they can be more of an expensive one-off, it is worth it due to their longevity.
Seed bearing perennial flowers are a fantastic option when choosing flowers to attract birds to your garden. Not only do garden flowers last a long period and provide beautiful colours for your satisfaction, but they provide a stable food source every year for your visitors.
Sunflowers (Helianthus spp.)
Also known as the “King of the seeds”, these are highly popular and nutritious to birds and are especially useful to birds when nearing the winter months. The oil in these seeds helps keep their beaks, feathers and skin in the best condition.
What birds will Sunflowers attract?
This is a highly popular seed for many birds, including; jays, finches, tits, cardinals, chickadees and many more. It is so popular that birds can even fight over it, especially when it comes to the blackbird, who will bully others away to get some.
Coneflower (Echinacea spp.)
A beautiful long-stemmed flower, this is another excellent natural option for birds, rich in protein and is said to be stimulating for immune systems. A good tip is not to prune off dead flowers during the winter months as they can feed hungry birds during the winter months; cut back once spring has arrived ready for the summer bloom.
What birds will Coneflowers attract?
Finches especially love this flower, as well as jays and cardinals. But not only will it attract birds, but it will also draw in butterflies, bees and other insects.
Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia Hirta)
These look amazing when placed with coneflowers and asters. They are great food options for late-summer to early Autumn, and birds love these seeds! Again, like coneflower, it is best to prune off dead flowers.
What birds will black-eyed Susan attract?
Chickadees, Cardinals, White-breasted Nuthatches, and sparrows. Bees, butterflies and other insects are also very attracted to their nectar and pollen.
Deciduous, coniferous, vines trees are all the most popular options to have in your garden to feed birds, mainly the fruits that can also feed us!
Holly – (Ilex aquifolium)
These are excellent winter feeders for birds, and the fruits are very much desirable. Not only this, but it also acts as a perfect shelter for small birds protecting them from predators.
Mistle thrushes are incredibly huge fans of the berries, redwings, fieldfares, and blackbirds attracted to this tree. Even better, hedgehogs can also hibernate in these.
Crabapples (Malus sylvestris)
This variety of crabapple tree is native to the UK; you can get malus species that are hybrid and more exotic. The Malus sylvestris blooms beautiful pink or white blossoms in springtime, producing tasty berries in Autumn that your garden visitors will love.
Robins, starlings, greenfinches, blackbirds, crows, and thrushes are the main birds attracted and fed on the berries. This tree can be the home to up to different insects, including bees, in the spring.
Birch – Betula spp Coniferous
Another great option, birds will feed on the seeds found in cone-shaped strobili), buds, and insects/caterpillars. You can find 521 invertebrates feeding on this tree which will, in turn, attract birds. Bright yellow sinskin relies on birch for food.
Other trees not derived from the UK that will attract birds
Serviceberries (Amelanchier species)
Another summer fruiting tree, in spring they produce beautiful white and pinkish flowers, and then in the summer reddish berries. They attract Robins, waxwings, cardinals, vireos, tanagers, grosbeaks and some others. And, again, it can also be a nesting site.
Mulberries (Morus species)
A summer fruiting tree, a great option to plant, attracting robins, waxwings, cardinals, numerous other songbirds, they also provide a nesting site for birds.
Shrubs that will attract birds to your garden
Like trees, shrubs can produce flowers, berries, saps and buds that birds can feed and shelter in and attract much wildlife.
These can be amazing for landscaping small gardens and provide structure and decoration to any garden.
Part of the rose family is a decorative shrub that can be used as a border to wall shrub and small trees.
From Autumn onwards, you will notice the branches filled with small delicious and nutritious red berries that blackbirds, thrushes and waxwings will love.
Your garden wildlife like bees will especially be attracted to the flowers.
Flowering from summer to Autumn, these produce classic roses, and some of the largest rose hips are produced by the hedging rose.
Blackbirds, fieldfares and mistle thrushes are huge fans of, particularly Rose rugosa.
The rose Canina stay juicy until late winter and attract such a wide range of birds.
Other shrubs not derived from the UK that will attract birds
Northern bayberry (Myrica pensylvanica)
Native to North America, these dense shrubs are great for in the winter to decorate your garden with their silver berries.
In addition, due to its evergreen nature, this is an excellent shelter for many different wildlife and birds.
American robins, Black-Capped Chickadee, Cedar Waxwing, yellow-Rumped Warbler and bluebirds are all huge fans of this shrub and will feed on their berries.
Ivy, Hawthorn, Honeysuckle, Rowan, Teasel, Daisies, Aster, Cornflower, Marigold, Virginia Creeper, Elderberry, Staghorn Sumac and Guelder Rose, are all other examples of plants, flowers and trees you can add to your garden to attract birds.
Birds are an excellent benefit for pests in your garden, making it even more worthwhile to feed, water, shelter, and attract them into your garden.
They will typically feed on ants, aphids, gnats and other flying insects, all of which, if left untreated, can cause problems.
Attracting birds to your garden will ultimately decrease the number of pesticides needed in your garden, and your plants will benefit from the natural treatment.
Other essentials to remember for your garden birds
Even though food is one of the main ways to attract birds to your garden, here are a few tips and tricks to not only ensure they are safe in your garden from predators and pests but also that they have a safe refugee shelter to either nest in or keep warm.
- Providing fresh clean water for your little visitors is ideal. Clean water feeders daily and bird feeders weekly to stop the transmission of diseases between birds.
- When placing your bird equipment in the garden ensure the watering table is away from any bushes or trees where predators are likely to hide in an open area is the best option. Place feeders up high; this will protect any birds from any cats that could be perching on tree branches or walls. An excellent option to protect from cats is to mount on top of a metal pole for example that a cat may not be able to climb. You will also want to avoid leaving food on the ground as this can also make birds vulnerable to cats.
- When choosing a bird feeder pick a design that prevents squirrels from feeding on the food. We have added some great options below (we’ve also added some squirrel feeders for you so we can appreciate all wildlife).
- Provide nesting boxes compost piles and other shelters for wildlife coming into your garden. Offering your birds food water shelter and a nesting area will provide them with all the survival needs they will need.