Feed the birds

Thursday 25th January 2018

© Gillian Day

Vine House Farm’s expert guide to feeding the birds in your garden

Feeding the birds in your garden can bring many rewards, from the simple pleasure of watching different species to knowing that you’re helping with their survival.

Here is Vine House Farm’s expert guidance on feeding the birds in your garden.

What should you be buying?

• Seed mixes – seed mixes are useful if you only want one or two feeders in your garden, as they attract a variety of birds.

• Peanuts - peanuts can be a good source of nutrition, but are best used with other foods. Always put them in a mesh feeder, as birds can choke on whole nuts.

• Suet products - these offer good value for money compared with other high-energy foods like peanuts. The main ingredient (suet) is a by-product meaning there are environmental benefits too.

• Live foods - mealworms can be a lifeline for young birds in the nest and those just fledged. They can be particularly helpful if you live in urban or intensively farmed areas where invertebrate numbers are low.

What feeders should you choose?

Having a variety of feeding methods is just as important as providing different types of food. Always position your feeding stations away from places where predators can hide and pounce.

• Hanging seed feeder – for straight seeds, seed mixes or suet pellets. Used by finches, tits, house and tree sparrows plus robins if the perch is circular.

• Niger seed feeder – for tiny niger seeds, which would flow out of a normal hanging seed feeder. Enjoyed by goldfinches, siskins and redpolls.

• Mesh peanut feeder – always use for peanuts; can also be used for suet pellets. Ideal for tits, some finches, great spotted woodpeckers and nuthatches.

• Live food / soft food feeders – for live mealworms, plus soft food mixes which would otherwise get clogged in a hanging seed feeder. Birds that will use them include robins, tits and blackbirds.

• Ground and table feeders – for sunflower hearts and husk-free mixes. Will attract blackbirds, robins, starlings, song thrushes and collared doves.

• Squirrel and corvid resistant feeders – use when grey squirrels and corvids such as jackdaws and rooks are a problem on other hanging feeders.

Keep it clean

Bird feeders and tables, if not kept clean, can harbour diseases which can easily be passed to other birds.

Don’t forget the water!

Garden birds need clean water both for drinking and bathing. In winter check the water regularly to ensure it is free of ice.

Quality of food

Not all bird food is of the same quality. Some bird food (particularly unbranded types) is often not only poor quality but will contain all sorts of ‘fillers’ to pack the bag out and add colour. Although cheap, these are poor value for money and will offer birds little or no nutritional benefit – and most of it is unlikely to be eaten.

Vine House Farm

Each time you make a purchase, Vine House Farm donate up to 5% of every sale to help your local Wildlife Trust, plus an additional £5 if you’re a new customer. Find their latest brochure enclosed or visit the website: www.vinehousefarm.co.uk.