Wild Bird Seed - birds and their foods
Birds such as robins, chaffinches, dunnocks and blackbirds are ground feeders. Robins and blackbirds love fat scraps, insect food and raisins – some fat products are available with dried insects in them. Finches prefer seed. Ground feeding birds can be fed from a low bird table placed on the ground, or they can be fed from a normal raised bird table as seen in many gardens. The low bird table is easier to clean under a tap and is often metal, whereas cleaning a large bird table is more difficult.
You might like to buy a bird feeding station which has several methods of holding different foods and feeds a wide variety of wild bird species. so why not visit Bird Feeders 4 Less to see their wide range of Bird Feeding Stations and other garden accessories.
Ground feeding should be avoided where there is the hazard of ground predators like cats or rats; a bird table giving more chance to escape can be made less climbable for cats by sliding a length of plastic drainpipe over the wooden stem.
Birds like tits, greenfinches, goldfinches and house sparrows, can feed from the plastic tube seed feeders that are sold in many shops, either hung from a nearby tree, or raised above ground on a metal stand. A seed feeder is filled with seed and has openings and perches for the birds to feed from. Peanuts can be fed from a different type of tube feeder made from metal mesh rather than plastic ao the nuts can be reached all round. Tita and house sparrows like this type of feeder. All feeders need regular cleaning to prevent old seed building up and getting mouldy which is unhealthy for birds aa it spreads disease.
Many types of seed mix are available, and I've recently been trying some from Ark Wildlife Limited, a company which ticks all the boxes for being eco-friendly, and has a range of bird foods that sound and look like top of the range, but which are priced very affordably. So far, the birds have been voting with their wings, and the food is disappearing more rapidly than usual, always a sure sign you've got it right. Also, the range of species visiting seems to have increased, and they all seem to be getting their share without too much squabbling. At the moment I'm trying the songbird mix for tables and gound feeders, and the robin mix for seed feeders; both seem equally desirable with birds queueing up to take their turn. If you want to attract more birds to your garden this seems the perfect way.
Some birds, like finches, tend to hull the seeds by rubbing them between the bill to remove the outer cases which are then discarded. If the site is visited by a lot of finches, providing de-husked seed such as sunflower hearts reduces the mess they leave if this bothers you. The Ark seed mentioned above is husk free and no detritus is left, an added advanyage if you want to avoid seed litter on the ground below. Cheaper mixes feature a lot of millet, which attracts pigeons, for many people this is not always desirable. Bread placed on open ground will also attract pigions and doves which will be hard to disuade once they have fed there once. This may seem discriminatory against these birds, but anyone who has had pigions set up home near them will know why most people prefer not to attract them; their constant repeated monotonous call can become intensely irritating! Pigeons are certainly no song birds.
Tube feeders shouldn't be placed in the open as predators like sparrowhawks are a danger for small birds using them, so site them close to trees, shrubbery or undergrowth so that the feeding birds can escape when necessary. Their favourite place is under an arch or close to a hedge into which theycan dive for cover.
In the breeding season some fledglings get both food and water from the insects the parents bring them. Adult birds need a water supply as well as food. Many birds relish mealworms in the breeding season, the adult birds take a beakfull of worms for their chicks. Live mealworms can be fed either from straight-sided ceramic bowls (to stop the worms escaping) or from a cage-type mealworm feeder. If live mealworms are not to your liking, dead, dried ones can also be purchased in animal food stores and these too are very popular, if rather dry - they can be softened in water for a couple of hours, but make sure you only damp enough for instant consumption.
The RSPB recommends five kitchen scraps which can be fed to wild birds: Uncooked porridge Oats, and Cake crumbs, baked, roast and mashed Potatoes, grated, crumbled Cheese is loved by robins and wrens, and windfall or over-ripe Fruits like apples and pears are preferred by blackbirds and other fruit eaters. Stale cake and biscuits provide a rich source of fat, and cooked rice, pasta and pastry are packed with starch.
Wild birds will be attracted to your garden if you plant food bearing plants, trees, and bushes, which not only provide food, but also provide wild birds with security and nest sites. Black Cherry is the most popular choice among fruit eating birds, but any fruit trees will be popular. Let at least some fruit fall to the ground as this will be very popular, especially when slightly rotten.
Always have a supply of clean water available all year round, using a small bowl, large seashell, coconut shell or similar. Never use anything too deep as young, inexperienced birds could drown in it. Some people say you should not feed birds bread as it's too dry, I have watched a raven gather several pices of bread in its beak, then take them to an old bath used by all the birds for drinking, and dunk them! I have fed birds with bread for decades, and all species seem to love it, I tend to trust the birds to make the right choices, and those arguing against bread are too often people selling bird food.