It's time for the Great British Beak Off.
As the colder months approach, it’s the perfect time to start putting out more food to help some of the UK’s declining species survive the winter, and the RSPB has created the perfect menu for our feathered friends. Birds love when you prepare a suet cake for them, and they don’t mind a soggy bottom!
RSPB wildlife advisor and head bird food chef Ben Andrew said: “Winter can be a struggle for many of our birds and providing a little food, water and shelter we can help them through the cold snap and keep them healthy for breeding next year.
“This winter’s menu has been prepared to offer a selection of tasty treats for even the picky eaters. Different types of birds need different kinds of food. Blackbirds, starlings and robins will eat fat, fruit, and mealworms, while chaffinches, goldfinches and collared doves are seed eaters, preferring sunflower hearts, nuts and nyjer seed.”
Natural food such as seeds and berries are in short supply during the winter and people can help supplement the birds’ diet by regularly putting out a range of titbits.
Ben Andrew said: “We suggest bird food like seed mixes, sunflower hearts, and fat balls, along with leftovers from the kitchen like cooked rice, uncooked porridge oats, chopped bacon, cheese, pastry, dried and fresh fruit.
“You should avoid dried coconut as it can swell up inside birds, cooked porridge because it is glutinous and can harden around bird’s beaks, margarines and vegetable oils as they smear on feathers and stop waterproofing and insulation and milk since birds can’t digest it.
“Water is also vital for both drinking and bathing and bird baths can be kept from freezing over using small floating items like twigs or ping pong balls. And never use antifreeze!”
Here is a sample menu with great options for your garden birds:
Tasting menu for garden birds
Nyjer seed nibbles
Tasty no grow ground mix salad
Crispy delicious mealworms
Seasonal juicy fat balls with a side of Fair to Nature sunflower hearts
Raisins à la suet
Selection of wild fresh berries and fruit
Water only, served without ice