Browsing the RSPB website the other day I came across a ‘Feed the Birds Day’. I had never heard of it and thought I would share this information with anyone in the UK that may be interested. You can read more about this on this page of the RSPB website where you can follow the links. The RSPB have also arranged 55 events supporting this day. You can browse this list to see if there is an event near you. Equally, if you are reading this from another country I don’t see any reason why you couldn’t join in any way if you wish.
Sunflower hearts are the most popular food for the visiting birds to my garden. I put them in feeders, on the bird table and scatter some on the ground. You can see in the photo below they were particularly popular back in May with both the Blackbirds and Starlings who went away with mouthfuls to feed their young!
Mealworms were also very popular at the end of May when I put out some live ones for the Blue Tits to feed their young in our Camera Nestbox. The Dunnock found them and made numerous trips until the lot were gone! I don’t usually put out mealworms live or frozen but I did this to help the blue tit chicks in our Nestbox as the parents couldn’t find enough insects (particularly caterpillars) to feed them and had resorted to giving the week-old chicks sunflower hearts. Sadly all eight chicks died and the Blue Tit male in the larger photo was too late with his find – he took it into the Nestbox but then came out again with it as the last two chicks were barely moving.
Sultanas scattered on the ground are another favourite for the Blackbirds and Starlings but I am now guessing after our recent hedgehog visits that it too has been enjoying them before now. I started putting sultanas out after a Song Thrush started visiting not knowing it would be so popular!
Peanuts I occasionally put into the feeders but last year I used a small feeding house hanging on a hook and a Jackdaw perfected a technique to fly at it and scoop up a mouthful at a time. It was a funny sight and I never caught it on camera!
Fatcakes are another strong favourite in the winter months and I believe that is what attracted the Blackcaps to visit my garden in January. You can see it in use in the video below. Sadly, for the Blackcaps, the Starlings went mad for them and came in large numbers. The Blackcaps finally left. I did try using a Fatcake Guardian but the Starling eventually mastered getting in that too!
Bread and Cheese I have also thrown on the ground and put on the bird table. The grated cheese is loved again by the blackbirds but, surprise surprise the Starlings went mad for that too. I actually put the cheese out to attract the wren! It has been very interesting experimenting with foods for the birds.
As Gardeners we can help feed the birds too by planting a wide variety of plants that will attract a wide variety of insects so the birds can feed their young as well as themselves. The most obvious are plants with berries but just by having a variety of shrubs and trees will help tremendously. Equally adding some water into the garden is a great idea as insects can be found on the edges and the birds can also drink from it too.
Other foods I have tried have been Niger seeds (thistle seeds) and various mixed seed mixes. I stopped using these as they all resulted in some food being left and countless weeds beneath the feeders – I am a gardener and it passed my threshold of mess. The ‘No Mess’ mixes did work but the small seeds were left and in trying to keep the feeders regularly clean (to stop the spread of any diseases) meant I had to clean it up. So finely I had enough of this and stopped using it!
Finally, there are many ways we can all help feed the birds that visit our gardens but for me I have thoroughly enjoyed experimenting to see what I can attract into my small Scottish Garden.