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Feeding garden birds

Gardeners love feeding the birds, but

sometimes it can be daunting to know

which food to feed which species. The most

important thing to consider when feeding

birds is nutrition. Birds need calories,

which give them the energy to fly, and

protein, which aids feather and egg

production. Traditionally gardeners would

feed birds only in winter, but these days

it's recommended to feed them all-year-round.

These sunflower seeds are packed

with protein and oil, but the birds have

to remove each husk to access the heart

inside. This can cause mess around

feeders, and the birds require a lot of

energy just to de-husk the seed, so you

can buy ready-husked sunflower hearts.

These are more expensive, but they're

well worth it as blue tits, great tits,

goldfinches, greenfinches absolutely love them.

There's no mess around feeders, the birds

are straight into the energy, and they're brilliant.

Next we have nyjer seed, which is a very

good choice if you want to attract

goldfinches, although you may find they

prefer the sunflower hearts.

Nyjer seed is very free-flowing, so you need

to use a special feeder which has a

narrow slit to prevent the seed from falling out.

It's also worth attaching a tray to the

bottom of the feeder, which can mop up

any spilled seed. Next we have a seed mix

which is designed for a variety of

different species such as robins and

wrens. When buying seed mixes it's a good

idea to spend a little extra money.

Cheaper seed mixes can be bulked out with larger

grains such as lentils and split peas.

The smaller birds simply discard these at

the feeder, in order to access the grains

they do want which can cause mess around

your feeding station. This is quite an

expensive seed mix which has got

sunflower seeds, kibbled maize, linseed and

rapeseed with are all very rich in oils

and calories for birds.

Peanuts are another good source of protein

and calories, and are suitable for tits and

larger birds such as great spotted woodpeckers.

When buying peanuts, always

check that they've been tested for aflatoxins,

a harmful fungus which can kill birds.

So lastly we have suet products.

Suet comes in a range of

different forms such as fat balls, cakes,

and you can buy suet which has seed

mixes in, mealworms and other treats like

that, which appeal to different species,

and are very nutritious and rich in

calories, which is very important in

winter. When feeding suet to your birds

do make sure you have a feeder that has

large holes, so the birds can access the

food inside. So here we have sunflower

hearts, sunflower seed, nyger seed, seed

mix, peanuts and suet products, which are

all suitable for a different range of

species at different times of the year.