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Feeding Birds and What They Like to Be Fed

Updated on November 1, 2017
tlcs profile image

Trudy otherwise know as tlcs has a lot of ideas about different things that she loves to share with others and is not afraid of the response



The Black bird is a very loyal visitor to the garden just like the Robin.

My Black bird tends to eat from the ground rather than the feeding stations, although that said if I have not put anything down it will hang quite awkwardly from the food station and try to get the ingredients from the fat balls. I hasten to add that this can be quite messy as it has a very sharp beak and as the fat ball ingredients fall to the ground my lawn gets quite messy until other birds come and eat the remnants.

Different kinds of food

Guide to keeping your garden birds fed and wanting to return into your garden.

Different birds like different kinds of foods, from items in your cupboards at home. Caring for your birds and their individual needs takes a bit of care and thought, if this is done you will be rewarded by seeing plenty of different varieties returning again and again to your garden.

The following list of foods will help you with your quest to gain birds into your garden.

  • Fat balls - When birds need rich fatty food to help fight the cold such as in the winter these are a must for your garden. The mesh these come in should be removed as the birds can easily become tangled and it can cause fatal consequences.
  • Sunflower seed - An all year food for your birds. Tits and greenfinches have made these seeds their favourites. The striped seeds do not have a high oil content like the black seeds which is better for the birds, if you buy them as sunflower kernels or 'hearts' there will be no mess left behind by the birds.
  • Nyjer Seed - This seed is black and high in oil content, Goldfinches and Siskins love these seeds, I use a special feeder for the food.
  • Peanuts - Don't confuse peanuts with salted or flavoured peanuts, you need to be especially careful if feeding your birds peanuts as some have toxin in them. Nuthatches, Tits, Siskins, Woodpeckers and Greenfinches all adore peanuts and you will be sure to see them time and time again in your garden.
  • Cupboard food - Its amazing but I have found that there are a number of foods that you can put out for your birds which are in your store cupboard such as cake, grated cheese preferably mild the birds don't seem to like the strong cheese, raisings, porridge oats that are dry, pastry, currants, cake and moistened bread are all liked by the birds that arrive at your garden. I will add not to put out dessicated coconut as this swells in the birds stomach, you can however use fresh coconut.

Natural foods include the following:-

  • Apple or crab apple

Dwarf varieties of apples are available and if you don't eat the apples the birds will!

  • Honeysuckle

The plant provides berries that the birds love and bees and butterflies love this plant, the birds also like to nest and roost in this plant.

  • Rowan

The tree provides beautiful red berries which birds love to gorge on, these are in great supply in the autum and winter.

  • Willow

This tree is rich in insect life which the garden birds love.

Planting a selection of trees in your garden if you have the room will supply a buffet for the garden birds and also add an abundance of colour and fragrance to your garden, the birds can also use the trees for nesting.

  • Shrubs including barberry, pyracantha, privet, yew, spindle, cotoneaster and holly all grow berries and fruit and a variety of birds will eat from them.

I hope that I have given you a few ideas on how to encourage birds to return time and time again to your garden if anyone knows of any other foods that I have missed please let me know and I will update my hub contents appropriately.

Fat balls can be made at home by using lard and nuts and shaping them into a ball, put the ball into the freezer until it becomes hard and then put into a stocking, tie at the top and then hang to your feeder.



Now we all love the little robin, who visits every day without fail, wind, rain, snow, you name it the Robin always returns to feed. I have noticed that my Robin nods to me through my conservatory windows before commencing feeding. I find it extraordinary that it seems to be acknowledging me and saying thank you before commencing eating.

Take a look next time your Robin comes down into the garden to feed and I swear to you that it will nod and acknowledge that your there and watching it prior to starting to eat its grub!

Ground feeding birds

Here are just a few of the ground feeding birds that I know of that feed from the ground:-

Starling - love to eat scraps, berries and insects and leatherjackets.

Song Thrush - their favourites are snails, fruit, insects and earthworms.

Jackdaw - they like berries and mealworms.

Collared dove - they seem to eat what ever you put out but especially like wheat and barley.

Blackbird - again they seem to eat what ever is available but are partial to berries.

Feral pigeon - they prefer grain and are not so keen on seed mixes.

Woodpigeon - they enjoy grain.

Dunnock - as they are very small they prefer small seeds such as linseed and millet.

Robin - my favourite, loves mealworm and is quite partial to fat balls.

All birds love bread especially the bread that is now available with sunflower seeds in the recipe! My birds adore it.

They also enjoy fruit cake, my grandson frequently makes fruit cake and always crumble's up some of the cake and scatters it on the lawn for the birds. Try it yourself they love it!

Check out what birds you have in the garden with my short poll

Which of the following birds do you get visiting in your garden on any given day?

See results

Tables and hanging feeders

The following birds prefer the table or feeders:-

  • Blue tit - they love peanuts, fat balls and caterpillars
  • Coal tit - sunflower seeds are a must for this coal tit
  • Great tit - peanuts and fat balls like the blue tit
  • Long tailed tit - they love fat balls and bird cake
  • House sparrow - fine seeds and peanuts
  • Goldfinch - love nyjer seed
  • Greenfinch - ive seen some eating peanuts and others sunflower seeds

I hope my hub proves useful and interesting to those of you like me who love to see the birds that come into the garden happy with what you provide them with.

White Thrush

I have also made water feeders from old plastic bottles, check out my hub on plastic bottles which explains how to make a water feeder for your birds.

I was watching a thrush just the other day feeding from one of my feeding stations and it amazed me how it could take a small piece of bread and peck at the bread until it was small enough for it to devour (unfortunately it had picked up quite a big bit of bread and really had to work at breaking it down).

It made me realise that I really need to take a little more time breaking the bread up into smaller amounts for the birds! I tend to always be in such a hurry to go to work etc that I don't allow enough time to do this. I'm sure there are others out there like me who just cannot find the time to stand there and crumble the bread. That said.... I will now I saw how long it took the thrush to break the bread up!

© 2012 Trudy Cooper


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    • tlcs profile image

      Trudy Cooper 6 years ago from Hampshire, UK

      Thank you.

      Im sure there are more to add and when I see them in my garden ill be sure to add the names to my hub!

    • Maddambutterfly profile image

      Marie V Stephens 6 years ago from New Mexico

      Thanks for the info. Love the birds and can never have enough of them in my garden!