Best five bird feeds for feeding garden birds | BBC Wildlife Magazine

Best five bird feeds for feeding garden birds | BBC Wildlife Magazine

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The benefits of feeding garden birds have often been touted: it can help us to connect with nature, as well as helping birds to survive the worst the weather can throw at them. In fact, it has been found that feeding garden birds regularly can even increase the number of certain bird species. 

With winter now here, never is there a more important time of year to feed garden birds. Food is scarce which means that birds may struggle to maintain their fat reserves that they so desperately need for surviving the the cold nights. By putting out good quality bird feed, we can give our garden birds a better chance of survival during the cold winter months. 

But what feed should you choose for the birds that visit your garden? Here are our top five choices for garden bird feed.


RSPB Favourites Blend

RSPB bird feed

This blend from the RSPB is rich in oil and protein and is husk free, minimising waste and mess than can build up around your bird feeder. The blend combines the RSPB’s most popular ingredients, including sunflower hearts, high energy sprinkles, and dried mealworms, making it a particularly nutritious mix for birds. Whether placed in a bird feeder, on a table, or sprinkled onto the ground, this feed is suitable for all garden birds, but it is a particular favourite of blackbirds, blue tits, great spotted woodpeckers, great tits, long-tailed tits, robins, song thrushes, and starlings.

If you’re not sure which bird species are visiting your garden, take a look at our British garden birds guide for how you can identify different species and attract them to your garden.

Giant Hanging Fat Ball

giant suet ball

Suet is another great choice for feeding garden birds, especially over winter. Suet contains plenty of energy to help birds keep up their energy reserves during the coldest months. The best time of day to put out bird feed is the morning, so that birds can quickly replenish the energy supplies they may have lost overnight. Suet is particularly favoured by tits, nuthatches, wrens, and over small clinging birds.

Extra Select Seed Mix

Will bird food seed mix

This wild bird feed contains a varied mix of seeds suitable for all species of British garden birds and comes in a large bucket, which can be easily reused as a refill container. Its high energy content makes it particularly good to use during winter. The mix is packed with natural protein and includes wheat, barley, red dari, yellow millet, kibbled peas, black sunflower, and kibbled maze.

Although most beneficial to birds in winter, it can be put in the feeder year-round, including spring and summer when chicks are being fed by their parents. During these times, foods such as loose peanuts or other larger nuts, large chunks of bread, and fats shouldn’t be put out in the garden for birds, as they can be harmful to the chicks should the parents bring the food to the nest.

RSPB dried mealworms

RSPB dried mealworms

Packed full of nutrients, mealworms — beetle larvae — are often the favourite of many garden bird species. You might find this feed attracts robins and blackbirds to your feeder more frequently. The mealworms are dried and can be put straight into a bird feeder or feeding table, but did you know that you can also soak them to add moisture to the birds’ meal? Simply place them in warm water for a few minutes before placing them outside. The worms are a particular favourite of robins, blackbirds, song thrushes, starlings, and wrens.

RHS Ultimate High Energy Bird Seed

RHS wild bird feed

This is a non-germinating, husk free mix that means minimum mess around your bird feeder, containing sunflower hearts and peanuts. This bird feed is a particular favourite of robins and finches, but will attract a wide variety of garden birds to your feeder.