Homemade Bird Food: What to Provide and What to Avoid

Are you feeding birds in your back garden? Well if you are, perhaps you’ve noticed that you’re on to a winning formula. You fill up the bird feeder and suddenly, you’re watching the birds flock into your garden to dine on all the delicious food you’re leaving them!

But if you’re not experiencing that kind of success, did it occur to you that it might be down to what you’re giving them? Insects, bugs and other creepy crawlies are the bulk of a bird’s typical diet but, during the winter, these food sources become scarce.

That’s where bird feeders come in. Fill your feeder according to the types of birds you want to attract in to your garden.

Homemade bird food

We have a guest post from Jennifer on making your own bird seed cakes if you would like to have a read and to make your own.

5 Foods to Try

  1. Suet Balls – While you can buy suet balls, your birds will love the freshness of homemade. Best of all, it is easy to make! Start by melting suet over low heat in a saucepan and pouring it over dried fruit and dried oats. Use about one-third the amount of fat and two-thirds of fruit and oats. Roll it into a ball and allow it to set. Finally, pop the completed suet balls into a bird feeder.To make things easy, you can get bird feeders specifically designed to hold suet balls – the large openings allow you to easily add your homemade fat balls without needing to break them up first, providing lots of calories for hungry birds!
  2. Peanuts – Popular with house sparrows, woodpeckers and siskins, peanuts are a perfect option to fill your feeders. They are a great source of nutrition as they’re rich in fat, making them the perfect addition to your bird feeder over the winter months. Likewise, natural peanut butter is sure to please your hungry birds. Mix them with your usual seed blends and the birds won’t be able to stay away! Keep in mind, any nuts you serve to your birds should be unsalted.
  3. Cooked Rice – It’s not just for your dinner table – birds love it to! Add some to your bird feeder for a nice treat. It might not be very popular with birds in summer but, during harsh winters, all species of birds will readily accept it. However, as with the peanuts, the rice should be unseasoned and unsalted. Be sure to clean out your bird feeder every day if you’re adding cooked rice as it will stick to the feeder if left to sit.
  4. Grated Cheese – A little bit of mild, grated cheese is a good idea if you want to attract robins and dunnocks. As with cooked rice, be sure to clean out the bird feeder every day if you’re going to add this.
  5. Porridge Oats – Add a scoop of uncooked porridge oats to your bird feeder. Just make sure not to give them any uneaten breakfast porridge that you have already cooked. The sticky mixture of cooked oats isn’t as enjoyable for birds as it is for us.

5 Foods to Avoid

As you can see, we can share many foods with the birds. However, it’s also important to note that there are a some foods that you should avoid when filling your feeders with homemade blends. Here’s just a few to keep in mind:

  1. Milk
  2. Mouldy food
  3. Bread
  4. Dry biscuits
  5. Margarine

Check out this advice from the RSPB if you want to see a full list. That way you can always be sure you are only providing food that is safe for birds to eat. These delicious homemade options are also great additions if you just want to supplement your store-bought, pre-mixed bird seed.



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