Robin on L'Arc bird feeder

Feeding Birds in Winter – Which Foods are Best

With natural food sources scarce, feeding birds in Winter is important to help them to survive through the frost and snow. The high energy substitutes that we put out on our bird feeders are essential to help birds to maintain their fat reserves and survive through the coldest months of the year.

sparrow in snow


Whilst bread is a welcome food source for birds it contains few nutrients. Equally many shop bought, ready mixed bird foods contain ingredients which have little nutritional benefit for garden birds. When buying ready-made bird food try to avoid mixes which contain split peas, beans, dried rice, lentils and coloured pet biscuits. These will only be eaten by larger birds and are often added to cheap garden bird mixes to bulk them out. Instead, when buying or making your own winter garden bird food, try to ensure that it includes some of the following high energy ingredients.

Our Guide to Feeding birds in Winter

Guide to feeding birds in winter

A mix of any of these foods will create a high energy feed that will attract a range of garden birds including Tits, Robins, Siskins and Finches.

  • Black sunflower seeds. These contain a higher oil content than striped sunflower seeds
  • Natural, chopped peanuts
  • Nyger seeds
  • Millet
  • Mild, grated cheese
  • Fresh coconut in its shell
  • Chopped, fresh fruit such as apples and pears
  • Dried fruit such as raisins, sultanas and currants. Please note that cats and dogs can react badly to eating dried fruit so please ensure that they are always placed out of the reach of your pets

Foods never to put out for garden birds

  • Milk
  • Salted or roasted peanuts
  • Turkey fat or fat from other cooked meats. As this fat has blended with the meat’s juices during cooking it has a soft consistency even when set. This can smear onto and stick to a bird’s feathers causing damage.
  • Desiccated coconut. This can swell up inside the bird’s stomach.
  • Dry cat or dog biscuits. Small birds can choke on the hard lumps.
  • Cooked porridge oats. These are glutinous and can dry hard around a bird’s beak
  • Mouldy or stale foods.

Blue tit in snow

Feeding Birds in Winter: Don’t forget water!

It’s important during the cold weather to also ensure that there is a constant source of fresh water for garden birds. Even in winter birds get thirsty and need to clean their feathers.

To help prevent the spread of diseases between birds, please always ensure that your bird feeders are cleaned regularly.

If you are looking for a new bird feeder for yourself or as a gift for someone, you will find our collection of unique, eco-friendly bird feeders below.

A bientôt

Katherine x

'Feeding Birds in Winter – Which Foods are Best' have 1 comment

  1. December 3, 2017 @ 9:45 pm cathysrealcountrygardencom

    Threw the icy water away and put out warm water and all my feeding birds came down to drink this afternoon. Your comment about water in the cold weather is so true. Happy feeding!


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Le Jardin Perdu 2018. All images and posts are the property of Katherine Forshaw

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