What are the essentials for feeding birds?
There are many ways to feed birds, and you should go for whatever fits your space best.
- Bird Tables: These can be freestanding or hung from a tree. Put out seeds, chopped apples, cereal, bacon rind, biscuit crumbs, raisins and cooked potato.
- Fat Balls and Suet Blocks: These are a valuable source of energy and especially popular with the tit family. Avoid netted fatballs, as birds have been known to get tangled in the netting, and instead use a fat ball feeder or place straight on the bird table.
- Feeders: These come in a variety of styles, and the metal ones are generally longer-lasting. Mesh feeders are mainly used for dispensing peanuts. Seed tubes will attract a wide range of birds when filled with sunflower hearts or mixed seed, and niger seeds are a particular favourite of goldfinches.
- On the ground: Some birds, like blackbirds, thrushes and chaffinches prefer to feed on the ground. A ground feeder cage will help to protect birds from predators, such as cats.
If you want to supplement the diet of insect feeders such as robins and wrens, you can do so by giving them mealworms. Don't use salted nuts, desiccated coconut, highly spiced food or very dry bread as these are all bad for birds. Whole nuts should not be put out on tables during the breeding season as chicks can choke on them, in a mesh feeder should be fine.
Wildlife should be an important part over everybody's life in Sussex and feeding birds is a great way to start. It gives a wonderful chance to see fascinating creatures up close and personal and learn about their lives. But remember that the food you put out can't provide all the natural proteins and vitamins that healthy birds need. You can provide natural foods by creating a wildlife friendly garden full of fruits, berries, seeds and most importantly insects:
Birds will be attracted to many garden plants for their seeds, berries, and shelter. Plants will also be hosts to many insects, but you don’t need to plant a specific area for birds unless you want to watch them in one place.
- Berries - Birds are most attracted to berries as they provide valuable food during the winter – if they stay on the tree long enough! Good berry plants include rowan and hawthorn.
- Seeds - These will also be source of food throughout the winter but the seed heads must be left to ripen. Good seed plants include: artichokes, marigolds, poppies, sunflowers, teasels and thistles.
- Water - This is vital for all birds and lots of other wildlife too. If you do not have a bird bath or shallow area in your pond, you could use an upside down plastic bin lid or large plant pot saucer.