With the RSPB's annual Big Garden Bird Watch swiftly approaching, you may feel that this year's event is the perfect time to take part and experience the joys of watching the birds gather in your garden - and for a good cause too! In this article, you should find plenty of tips to help you prepare for when the event takes place, which will be between the 29th and 31st of January.
Picking Your Bird Feed
The first thing for you to consider is which kinds of seed you would like to put out on offer to your local birds. If you have a rough idea of what the local bird populations are in your area, it's usually a good idea to put down some seed that you know they will like, but there are also plenty of general mixes or other products that will appeal to almost every kind of bird available. Whether you know which types of birds live nearby or are trying to invite a particular kind to your garden, it can be useful to know which kinds of birds like which kinds of bird seed, so refer to this list below to take a look!
Sunflower seeds - Blue Tits, Bullfinches, Chaffinches, Coal Tits, Goldfinches, Great Tits, Greenfinches, Jays, Robins, Starlings, Thrushes, and Woodpeckers.
Peanuts (Whole or Crushed) - Blue Tits, Coal Tits, Great Tits, Jays, Nuthatches, Robins, Starlings, Woodpeckers, and Wrens.
Peanuts (Only When Crushed) - Chaffinches, Dunnocks, Siskins, and Sparrows.
Nyger - Bullfinches, Chaffinches, Goldfinches, Greenfinches, and Sparrows.
Oatmeal - Robins and Sparrows.
Corn - Doves, Jays, Magpies, Pheasants, Pigeons, Sparrows, and Starlings.
Mealworms - Blue Tits, Dunnocks, Robins, Thrushes, and Wrens.
Note that what is listed mostly refers to the bird's favourites, and not necessarily exclusively what they will eat.
Though a lot of the feeds we have discussed above have been somewhat more suited towards particular types of birds, there are also some feeds that you can put out that would be suited for almost every type of bird. Most birds very much appreciate having access to fat or suet-based feeds, due to the huge amount of energy that they can supply to the bird. There are all sorts of products on the market that are available for this - from balls to logs, blocks, and pellets. Perhaps the best way to feed these to birds is generally through a pellet form, as smaller birds will be able to eat them more easily than the other forms (though, that said, balls, logs, blocks, and pellets need replacing less often!). Because of this, what we recommend most for feeding here are the Suet To Go pellets. If those pique your fancy, you might like to know that we sell these in our stores by weight, which means that it's very easy for you to only buy as much as you think you would need to feed the birds in your garden!
Another option you may want to consider is buying a bird feed mix, rather than buying one type of feed itself. Here, you can buy one mix that will attract several different types of birds at once. Of course, you could buy the seeds that you want to feed individually and mix them yourself, but it's worth noting that we carry several of the RSPB recommended seed mixes in our own stores, and that we can also make up other specific mixes for you while you're in-store, so there's no need for you to faff around when you get home, and no chance for you to spill seed all over your floor!
For example, we typically stock the standard Wild Bird mix, the High energy mix, and the Super-Seed mix. The WIld Bird mix is a good all-round bird seed mix that will keep any set of garden birds happy and well-fed. The High Energy mix, or 'No Mess', as some people may call it, is good for supplying seed with more nutrients, and the birds will not leave behind any mess such as sunflower husks, saving you from having to clean up after them! Meanwhile, the Super-Seed mix also has more nutrients in it like the high energy, but is also more tailored towards feeding smaller birds and contains less grains. As mentioned above, If you know a different mix that we don't have ready-made in the store, and we have the right ingredients for it in our extensive range, we can also produce that for you!
Overall, there's certainty a lot of information here to digest, and if you still feel unsure about what is best for you, feel free to pop into one of our stores or contact us by clicking here, and we can help you to figure out what option might be best for you.
Some Other Useful TIps!
Of course, selecting the right feed for the birds in your garden is the most important step, but allow us to also leave some other advice that you may find helpful in setting everything up your garden in the most optimal way, as this will help you to attract more birds.
One important detail to note is where you have positioned your bird table or feeding station. In general, a lot of birds, especially those of the smaller varieties, will not feel comfortable eating from tables or stations that are set out in the open. Don't forget that many of these small birds are prey for hawks and other large birds, as well as cats and other land-based predators. Instead, set up your feeding spot somewhere close to a large bush or tree. This will encourage the birds and make them feel more comfortable, and you're likely to see them dart in and out of the vegetation as they eat, which is fun to watch! On a similar note, be sure to make the feeding station safe for the birds by doing your best to prevent any cats that may try to visit your garden. If you have your own house cats, try to keep them inside as much as possible, especially early in the morning, which will be the peak feeding time for most birds. If your neighbours have cats that visit your garden, you may want to consider cat repellent solutions, such as sprays or sound emitters that you can place in spots that the cats are likely to enter the garden from. Doing this will further increase the confidence that the birds will have when it comes to visiting your garden!
Another thing you might want to consider for the bird's safety is whether the way that you have set up your feeding station is safe for them. For example, although this is slowly becoming less common, there is unfortunately a large number of people who may still feed birds with fat balls or peanuts kept inside of netted pouches. These netted pouches can be very deadly to the birds, as they may get their feet stuck in the netting, and can sometimes sadly die from this. In general, be sure to thoroughly inspect your feeding station for anything that can possibly harm the birds, and take steps to remove dangers when necessary.
Finally, you may want to bear in mind that the birds may not end up being the only critters that decide to visit your feeders! The most infamous of bird seed thieves, squirrels, may begin turning up to your garden too, especially if you are feeding peanuts! Depending on your personal disposition, you might not actually want to feed these little rascals, especially if it's in lieu of the birds, and so you may want to consider taking precautions against them. There are various tips that you can find elsewhere on the internet, such as the idea of sprinkling chilli powder onto the seeds or peanuts (squirrels hate chilli powder, but birds generally remain unaffected), but such tips generally seem to be hit-and-miss. If you want to be sure to avoid this problem, your best bet is to get yourself a squirrel-proof feeder. We sell some fantastic variations of these, which come in heavy cages with bars that make the feeder too difficult for squirrels to access, but still suitable for birds. Certainty keep this in mind if you see these little rodents!
Speaking of rodents, the other kinds of visitors you might find starting to visit your garden after feeding birds are mice and rats. Of course, this is very likely to be unsettling for you, as you do not want to encourage these pests close to your home. However, it is easy to prevent this through simple management. First, picking a type of feed that doesn't encourage these pests (such as fat balls or suet pellets) can help prevent them from being attracted to your garden at all, but if you would prefer to feed seed to your garden birds, your best option to avoid this problem is either to pick a feed that wouldn't create a mess, such as the High Energy mix, or to be sure to regularly go outside and pick up any seeds or shell casings that do get thrown onto the grass, just to ensure that these never pile up and attract any other critters.
And with that, this article comes to a close. We hope that you now feel more informed on how best to welcome the birds of your choice into your garden. As stated above in the article, if you're left with any questions that you feel that we can help you with, you can either pop into one of our stores or you can see other options of contacting us by clicking here, and we'd be happy to help you however we can. If you're wondering where to get any of your needed bird feeding supplies, whether the seed itself or appropriate feeders for doing so, rest assured that our stores also carry the stock that you would need!
Wishing you all the best with your beaky new friends, and hope to see you again soon!
Head of IT at Pet Food Plus More.