Here at Wiggly Wigglers, we often get asked about what food is suitable to put out for particular wild birds. Whilst it is impossible to provide a definitive list, I will try to give some bird feeding hints and tips here.
Seed eating birds have strong beaks and can remove the husks from seed with hard shells (such as black sunflower seeds). Birds that normally eat soft foods or insects will be unable to do this. In the average garden you will have bird visitors of both types so it is a good idea to cater for all. If you aren't sure which seed to feed, a good mixed seed is the safest bet.
If you find that feeding seeds is messy you can buy huskless seed, which contains only the seed hearts.
It is likely that the most common seed eating birds you will find in your garden are sparrows and finches that prefer the smaller seeds. Goldfinches are particularly attracted to niger seed, which must be fed in an appropriate feeder.
Wheat and grains are likely to draw in pigeons, doves and pheasants from miles around and could make you unpopular with your neighbours!
Peanuts are rich in fat and popular with the likes of tits, greenfinches, sparrows, nuthatches and woodpeckers.
Mealworms, waxworms, worms and insects are loved by birds such as robins, blackbirds, thrushes, tits and nuthatches. Feeding live food in the spring helps during the breeding season as they provide much needed protein. Tits and robins love mealworms and the latter can become very tame in exchange for their favourite snack.
Fat balls and snacks containing suet and lard are a good winter feed as birds need the high energy content to enable them to keep warm throughout the coldest weather.
Whatever seed or bird food you buy it should be of a good quality and, most importantly, fresh. Mouldy food can cause respiratory infections in birds and stale food could harbour the salmonella bacteria, which can kill.
Good quality peanuts should always be fed as poor grade ones may contain a natural toxin, called aflatoxin, which can kill birds. In addition, you should never feed birds any food containing salt, such as salted peanuts or cooked rice.