The best gardening for wildlife tips to your inbox
Open a bird cafe
- Activity time:
- Less than 2 hours
- Difficulty level:
- Suitable for:
- Balcony/roof, Small garden, Large garden, Medium garden
- To help:
Appreciate the colours and fascinating behaviour of birds up close, when you put out food for them in your garden.
By feeding birds, your garden may be visited all year-round. It’s an easy activity to get kids involved with nature.
It's in winter that you will probably get the fastest results from putting up feeders, but any time is fine.
Don’t worry if it seems to take ages for bird numbers to pick up at your feeders in autumn – they’re probably taking advantage of all the naturally-occurring seeds, berries and insects available at this time.
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.
What you will need
- bird feeders
- bird table
- choice of bird seed mixtures such as:
- bird cake and food bars
- sunflower seeds or hearts
- nyger seeds
- live foods and other insect foods
- lard and beef suet
- cooked rice
- uncooked oats
- What to feed. Different birds prefer different foods, in the different seasons and different parts of the country. So try these different types of food and adapt to what works best in your garden. Try some of the options listed above.
- What not to feed. Importantly, there are some foods you should never put out. Avoid all salted foods as they dehydrate birds. Never put out loose peanuts, dry, hard foods or large chunks of bread during the spring or summer months. Parent birds might take these back to their nests and their young can choke on it.
- How to feed. It’s good to invest in quality feeders and roofed bird tables, which will keep food dry and stop it going off. As a good start, try:
- a hanging plastic feeder containing sunflower hearts for (mainly) finches, tits and sparrows
- a hanging mesh feeder with peanuts for (mainly) tits
- a hanging mesh feeder with fat balls for (mainly) tits and sparrows.
- adding feeder trays where possible to collect fallen food and allow more birds to feed
- 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.
- When to feed. It is fine to feed all year-round - just 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. Fatty foods can go off in summer, so remove any which are past their best.
- Keeping it healthy. Here are our top tips:
- Make sure the foods are kept in rodent-proof storage bins
- Clean your feeders. Unhygienic feeding stations can quickly transmit diseases between birds, so clean your feeders and bird tables regularly. Wash them down with a mild disinfectant and hot water, rinsing them fully and drying them out before filling them back up with food
- Clear up under your feeders - you don't want a problem with rodents at night.
- Dealing with unwanted visitors. You may attract creatures other than those you were hoping to help! Rats, mice, squirrels, pigeons, and members of the crow family can wolf down what was meant for smaller birds. The best solutions are:
Be prepared to buy the best if you are to outwit your 'opponents', and you may need to be quite ingenious.
- feeders with 'guardian' cages around the outside - small birds can slip through the gaps but larger creatures are excluded
- 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 up in the right place with the right food, sit back with a cup of tea and watch. It's better than any soap opera!
Opening a bird cafe
Open a bird cafe/Seeds/Feeders/Suet/Mealworms/Grand Opening