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 Garden Birdwatch

What Food?

Think of your garden as a restaurant! If you opened a restaurant for humans and it only had tiny chairs and served just cabbage, then you would only get very small visitors... who liked cabbage!!! If your restaurant offered seating and eating arrangements for all sized humans and offered a wide menu, then you would be likely to attract lots of different customers. You garden is just the same!

Bird are all different. Not only do their food preferences differ, but their beaks are different too. Some beaks are really good at opening seeds, other beaks are just not designed for it. Some birds are excellent at hanging to get the food, others like to sit on a perch or a platform, or even on the ground.

Try to create a good variety of food stuffs and ways to serve it, in your garden, and this will attract the most different species.

Obviously, all gardens differ, so you may need to experiment to find out what your species like best.

Start by feeding straight seed mixes. Find out what your birds like best, then create your own mixes.

Remember that dried fruit is very dangerous to dogs, so only feed where dogs can't access it.

Top Tips

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Avoid cheap mixes with a a lot of wheat in them... it will only attract pigeons!

Keep it healthy! Don't feed sweetened or salty foods or white bread.

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Top 3 Foods

These are the foods I tend to feed most in my garden. I supplement it with others, depending on the time of year. There are many online companies that sell, as well as local farm shops and suppliers. Where possible, I try to choose British companies or those that are donating some profits back to wildlife trusts or the RSPB.

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Black sunflower seeds

These are oil rich and high energy, loved by lots of different species.... as long as they can get the husk off! I buy them in large sacks as I get through them so quickly. Finches and tits, in particular love them!

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Sunflower hearts

These are the sunflower seed, with the husk already removed. This means that species such as the robins, blackbirds and dunnocks can also eat them. Their beaks make it difficult for them to remove the husk.

Suet products

I always feed a variety of suet products and these come in many shapes and form. I generally recommend fat balls that are soft and have a putty like consistency. The most popular in my garden are shown below. Bird peanut 'butter' or peanut cakes are also brill. They contain suet and peanut flour and are very nutritious

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I often use these Wilco & other bargain store products. Their premium fatballs are the most popular in my garden and I buy them in a large cardboard box, online. B&M Bargains and Home Bargains are also good.

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The CJ Wildlife Peanut cakes are loved by my birds and are sold in 500ml and 1 litre sizes that last for ages!

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Household staples

Experiment with other foods you may have at home. Try them on the bird table, on the ground or in other spaces, and see which your birds like best!

Red Apples

Hang a whole apple with a twig through for a perch, chop up on the bird table or offer whole on the ground. Blackbirds, in particular, love them!

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Unsweetened dried fruit, like sultanas and raisins are loved by the thrushes, but don't put them anywhere where a dog may eat them. They are highly toxic to dogs!


Mild cheese, finely chopped or grated can be popular with some species.


Oats can be mixed in with some apple and dried fruit to create the birds their own meusli!


Cooked rice is a cheap and easy way to add variety to the food on offer.

You can mix all these ingredients together to make your own, bespoke mix. Soften some suet (not veg, chicken fat) and mix in all these ingredients to make your own fat balls!

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