How to attract birds to your garden this winter

14 April 2022 – 2 Minute Read

Attracting birds to our gardens in winter is important to increase the biodiversity of your garden and keep on top of pests. Bird surveys from The British Trust for Ornithology, have also noted large declines in the numbers of house sparrows and starlings in Britain. So the availability of bird food and feeders is important to encourage them. Find out how to welcome birds to your garden with tips on bird feeders, seed and food.

What type of bird table or feeder should I get?

If you’re looking at buying a bird table, bird protection society, the RSPB recommend a platform of about 3-4 square feet to prevent bird fighting. A garden bird table will be most valuable in the winter months, between October and April, when natural food is in short supply.

They also advise not to invest in bird baths (the food will get soggy), or boxes with a nest. According to the RSPB, it’s not wise to encouraging birds to feed in another’s nesting territory. Tables with metal posts are also a good choice to prevent cats and squirrels climbing up to steal the food – or the birds.

Hus Hem White Swedish Combi Bird Feeder

For bird feeders, we like this stylish white castle style feeder from Hus & Hem, pictured above. Available at from £22.95. It’s big enough to fill with seed and attract multiple birds.

Which foods are best for the birds?

To top up your feeder in winter, look out for bird seed mixtures with calorie-rich sunflower seeds and peanuts. These are usually available from most garden centres . But don’t forget that, just like us, different birds will be attracted to different types of food.

So, if you’re looking to attract goldfinches into your garden, put out sunflower hearts and nyger seeds. They were found to be their most popular foods in the 2015-2016 goldfinch feeding survey from the British Trust for Ornithology. A survey carried out by 5,183 households across Britain and Ireland.

Meanwhile greenfinches love peanuts and sunflower seeds, while smaller seeds such as millet will attract sparrows. Wheat and barley grains are only really suitable for pigeons, doves, pheasants and birds which feed on the ground.

Fat-based bird cakes are also excellent winter foods for all birds. But make sure all packaging or mesh is carefully removed first. Never leave out left-over cooking fat or milk, as these are bad for birds and can cause digestion problems.

How often should I clean the feeder?

You should try to get into a routine of cleaning your bird feeders once a month. Not only will this help prevent the build up of harmful bacteria but you will find you have more birds as they prefer the fresh seed. When you have removed all the food debris give the bird table and feeders a thorough wash. Fill a bucket with warm water, a small amount of detergent and four cups of white distilled vinegar. Do not use chemicals.

A little bit of effort and time will keep the bird feeders fresh and inviting to birds and you should have plenty to watch on cold winter days.

What type of birds will I likely see?

Examples of the type of feathered friends to look out for in British gardens include goldfinch, long-tailed tits and wood pigeons.

Need seed? Pick up bird seed, tables and feeders at your local garden centre .