What is the best food for wild birds?
Different birds prefer different foods, so there’s no single food that is best for feeding wild birds. Rather, focus on providing food that the birds in your garden will enjoy, then add foods that appeal to the birds that you want to attract.
Live mealworms are a fantastic source of protein for wild birds, and also provide moisture. They will attract birds such as thrushes, robins, blackbirds and wrens. If you choose to buy dried mealworms, rehydrate them in water before putting them out for the birds. Never put out discoloured mealworms, as they may carry diseases such as salmonella.
Peanuts are high in fat and protein, and are favoured by finches, tits, nuthatches and woodpeckers. Always choose raw, unsalted peanuts, as salt can be harmful to birds. Peanuts from certain countries can be contaminated with a powerful poison called aflatoxin, so always buy peanuts from a reputable source.
Sunflower seeds are another great source of fat and protein for birds, and will attract many different varieties. Nyjer seeds are also high in fat and a favourite among finches.
Drained, fresh coconut is popular with tits, rooks and starlings. However, avoid putting out desiccated coconut as this can swell in the bird’s stomach and make it ill.
Suet and fat balls are enjoyed by starlings, blackbirds, doves and sparrows. Commercial suet pellets, suet cakes and fat balls are fine all year round, because they have been treated to ensure that the fat stays solid. However, don’t put out home-made suet cakes and fat balls for the birds in summer, as the heat can melt the fat, causing it to smear on the birds feathers. This can ruin the waterproofing and insulating qualities of their feathers.