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How to attract birds to your patch

Here are our top tips on how to feed and attract birds this Big Garden Birdwatch. You don’t even need a garden – just a feeder attached to a window.

What do birds eat?

There are lots of different bird foods available, including mixes for bird feeders and bird tables, as well as for ground feeding. Winter is a time when natural food shortages could occur and these foods can help the birds out during this time.

  • Blackbirds mostly feed on the ground and will eat a broad range of foods, from fatty nibbles to mealworms
  • Blue tits and Great tits use both a feeder and a bird table, eating seeds as well as suet and peanuts
  • Finches, including Chaffinch and Greenfinch also use both a feeder and a bird table, and they love sunflower hearts. But don’t forget to clean them weekly to avoid spreading disease
  • Look for good quality bird food – those that don’t include ‘fillers’ such as dried peas and beans that birds rarely eat.
  • You can put out leftovers such as dried fruit, or fruit such as apples and pears. Don’t use anything mouldy or salty though, and if you have a dog don’t put out dried fruit – vine fruits such as raisins can be toxic to them.

Where to put bird feeders and tables

You can put your bird feeder in all sorts of places, but aim for somewhere:

  • Quiet – where birds won’t be disturbed.
  • Safe – not too close to bushes where predators could hide in wait, but close enough to cover that birds can easily dart to and from. Birds like to have a view all around them while feeding.
  • Sheltered from harsh winds.

Wherever you place your feeder, make sure you can see it when you’re indoors so you can get the most pleasure from it! You can even get a feeder that sticks to your window.

Bear in mind, it can take a little bit of time for the birds to get used to a new feeder, so don’t be disappointed if not many birds visit at first.  You might also consider including a feeder tray where possible to both save on wasted food, and allow more feathered friends a place to perch.

Remember the water

Birds like a drink too. You don’t even need a traditional bird bath:

  • Try an old dinner plate or breakfast bowl – anything shallow that holds water will do.
  • Large plant pot trays work well.
  • Add a shallow or sloping area to a pond.
  • Use a water feature or fountain.

And remember to:

  • Keep it clean.
  • Put out fresh water every day.
  • Pour warm water onto any ice that forms in the winter, as birds need water all year round.

The Big Garden Birdwatch is fun, free and for everyone. And you don’t need a garden to take part! Counting birds from your balcony, or your local park will play a vital role in helping us understand how UK birds are doing. Sign up for your free guide and let’s look out for birds together on 27-29 January.

©️ RSPB 2023

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