Open a bird café

Activity
Bird feeders
1-2 hours
All Year
Easy

Bring birds to your garden by putting out food for them. Appreciate their colours and fascinating behaviour, and attract them to your garden year round. It’s an easy activity to get kids excited about nature, and perfect for older bird lovers to enjoy the wildlife from their window. You should get the fastest results from putting up feeders in winter, but it’s great to leave food out all year if you can. If you're looking for some bird food, look no further than our bumper bird food gift box. It's crammed full of a fantastic selection of seeds, suet and nibbles.

Bird feeders

Step-by-step guide

1

What not to feed

Importantly, there are some foods you should never put out.

Avoid:

  • All salted foods, as they dehydrate birds
  • Cooked food, as this can attract vermin
  • Loose peanuts. Keep these in a feeder so small chunks can be taken
  • Dry, hard foods or bread during the spring or summer months. Parent birds might take these back to their nests and their young can choke on it.
2

How to feed

Invest in quality feeders and roofed bird tables, to keep food dry and stop it going off.

To get started, try:

  • a hanging plastic feeder containing sunflower hearts. Great for finches, tits and sparrows
  • a hanging mesh feeder with peanuts. Great for tits
  • a hanging mesh feeder with fat balls. Great for tits and sparrows.
  • adding feeder trays where possible to collect fallen food and allow more birds to feed

 

3

Where to feed

Place the feeders high enough so they are out of reach of ground predators like cats. They should be a couple of metres away from thick cover like bushes, so that small birds can beat a hasty retreat from aerial predators such as sparrowhawks.

If you don’t get any visitors, try a different location.

Move the feeders to different locations over the course of a year so that you don’t get a build-up of debris underneath.

4

When to feed

Feed your birds all year if you can, but adjust the amount you put out. In summer, when many birds leave to breed in the countryside, they’ll need less food. There’s a lot more food available naturally in autumn and even early winter, as flowers set seed and berries ripen. Feed fat in the winter only, as fatty foods can go off in summer and birds don’t need high energy food as much in the warmer months.

Our tops for keeping feeders healthy

  • Keep food in cool, clean rodent-proof storage bins
  • Clean your feeders. Unhygienic feeding stations can quickly transmit diseases between birds. Wash them down with a mild disinfectant and hot water, rinsing fully and drying before filling with food
  • Clear up under your feeders, to keep the rodents away

Unwanted visitors

Rats, mice, squirrels, pigeons, and members of the crow family can wolf down what was meant for smaller birds. The best solutions are:

  • feeders with 'guardian' cages around the outside - small birds can slip through the gaps but larger creatures can’t
  • weight-activated feeders which close off the feeding ports when something heavy like a pigeon or squirrel sits on them
  • specialized deterrents for squirrels can be especially effective

Enjoy the show!

Once you've got your feeders in the right place with the right food, sit back with a cup of tea and watch. It's better than any soap opera!

What you will need

  • Bird feeders
  • Bird table
  • Choice of bird seed mixtures (see optional extras below)