Wildlife Food

wildlife and bird food

Wildlife and Bird Food

Looking after wildlife in your garden

Winter is a tough time of year for many wild animals and birds. They come to depend on gardens for essential food and water. You can help your local wildlife by putting out food for them to eat.

Most gardens will benefit from having wild birds visiting their bird-feeders in the morning. The song of garden birds is a great thing to listen to during the colder and darker months.

Other people may have the delight of visiting badgers or a hedgehog hibernating or visiting their gardens. Give them a boost with some special wildlife food.

We can all do our thing to help wildlife survive the winter.

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Wild bird food FAQ:

What is the best food for wild garden birds?

Every bird is different and looks for different bird food. Probably the best general-purpose birdseed is sunflower seed. If you could only buy one type of seed then sunflower attracts the widest range of species and provides high-quality nutrients and energy to garden birds.

10 top wild bird foods

To get the widest range of garden birds into your garden and your feeder try adding a mix of these top 10 wild bird foods:

  1. Sunflower seeds - a good source of energy and cheap making it an ideal filler seed in a bird food mix. Black-oil sunflower seeds are prefered by birds compared to other varieties. This is because it has a higher energy content and thinner shell making it easier to open.
  2. Safflower seeds - small seeds that are popular with smaller birds.
  3. Nyger or thistle seeds - small seeds which are great for attracting finches and songbirds. Needs a special feeder because of the seed size. Only put out sparingly and refresh daily as these seeds spoil very quickly.
  4. Peanuts - a good general wildlife food stable that is cheap to buy. If you want to attract jays and woodpeckers try threading some unshelled peanuts on a string and hanging them up. Avoid using peanuts in wet weather as they go mouldy. Once peanuts have gone mouldy the feeder needs to be thoroughly cleaned.
  5. Millet seed - is a great seed for ground-feeding birds. Can be difficult to find as a separate seed. Always opt for white millet and not red millet as white is prefered by birds.
  6. Mealworms - these are getting cheaper to buy now especially dried mealworms. At one time the cost meant they could only be an occasional treat but now the price of large tubs for online retailers means the cost is a lot more affordable. Birds prefer live mealworms so it may take a little while for them to start eating dried mealworms. As more people are now putting out dried mealworms birds are beginning to recognise this tasty food source.
  7. Corn - this is really for ground-feeding birds such as ducks and crows. Corn is also good for other wildlife such as squirrels and foxes that will find it and eat it. If you are lucky enough to have hedgehogs visiting your garden it's best to avoid putting out corn to prevent hedgehogs from eating it. Cracked corn is often used as a filler of cheaper bird seed mixes because of its cheap price.
  8. Suet - a high energy fatty food that is perfect for the colder months. They also attract birds such as nuthatches, woodpeckers and starlings.
  9. Fruit - fresh fruit is always popular with a range of bird species. In ground feeders that also help other wildlife such as hedgehogs, badgers and foxes. Fresh apples and other fruits can be chopped up and added to a feeder or simply hung up whole with strong from a branch or feeding station. Dried fruit can also be put out but not sticky dried fruit such as dates. Also if you feed anything dried putout water
  10. Water - water is an essential resource for birds. If you feed birds also put out water. This is particularly essential during winter when natural sources may be frozen over.


Do birds recognise who feeds them?

There is some science behind the belief that birds recognise people who feed them regularly. Studies have shown that a number of species of wild birds will recognise faces and even voices of people who regularly put out food for them.

What not to feed garden birds?

There are somethings that you should not put out for garden birds. Here are some of the worst items:

  1. Avocado - it produces an anti-fungal substance that is toxic to birds
  2. Chocolate - birds may look like they enjoy it but it contains caffeine and other substances that are toxic to birds
  3. Salt - even small amounts can be toxic to birds. Never put out anything that has been in contact with salt
  4. Artificial sweeteners - avoid putting out food that contains artificial sweeteners such as cake and biscuits.
  5. Cooking fat - while suet and fat are good for birds, fat from cooking is not. This is because it will often contain salt and other ingredients that are toxic
  6. Cooked porridge - it may be made from oats but cooked porridge is dangerous to birds. It can sticky to birds beaks and stop them eating and drinking
  7. Milk - don't put out milk for any wildlife really including birds. Many species of wildlife and birds can not digest cow's milk and will get serious stomach complaints.



Bird food FAQ video: