How to Feed Wild Birds During Summer Months

Summer Feeding Guide for Wild Birds

Wild birds have difficulty in finding their natural source of food at this time of year because of the dry soil and drought conditions brought on by the summer heat.

 

Although rain may be experienced at times, it cannot guarantee to soften the soil enough to allow insects to thrive in shallow ground. Instead, insects, invertebrates and earthworms, will remain deep and lower in the ground where birds cannot reach. Wild birds require various insects including spiders, beetles, mealworm, earthworm and caterpillars as their natural source of food. Without this, wild birds can only rely on other food sources such as fruit and smaller inadequate morsels, which will not give them the vital nutrition they need to function healthily.

 

With the help of wild bird food such as a mix of seeds, nuts, grain and insects -garden birds will be able to consume essential minerals, vitamins, fat and amino acids. By providing suitable bird food for the right season and type of wild bird within your area, we can act on giving our garden birds what they need at the right time of year. With the lead up to autumn and winter, wild bird seed mix will also help birds maintain adequate levels of energy to be ready for the migration season.

 

Creating a feeding space in your garden is helpful for protecting wildlife. Use our guide below to identify what wild birds eat and how best to offer a feeding space.

Robin (erithacusrubecula)

robin

The robin (erithacusrubecula) is particularly common bird all year round and is distinguished by its bright red breast, which also appears orange, for both sexes. They are very small birds with cute features but are particularly territorial and will therefore be regular visitors in your garden. Their natural diet includes insect, worm, and berries. In the summer when insects are deep underground finding wet, moist conditions, robins will avoid searching for insects and instead visit gardens, parks and trees in search of food.

You can therefore encourage robins to eat food which contain mealworms, suet cakes and a fruit feast mix with seed. Particularly in summer and winter, feed robins a nutritious seed mix of pinhead naked oats, red millet, kibbled sunflower hearts, maize finings, wheat, and pink suet pellet. When feeding the robin, be mindful that they like to feed on the ground or on a bird table.

Blackbird (Starnus Vulgaris)

Blackbird

The blackbird (Starnus Vulgaris) which looks similar to the starling bird, is black in colour hence its name. Both sexes have bright orange beaks and its orange ring around its eyes, distinguishes the male blackbird from the female.  Interestingly, the female blackbird is brown, with streaks and spots on its breast. Blackbirds will also be a regular dweller in your garden, looking for food to replace its usual diet of caterpillars, worms, insects, ripened fruits and berries. In your bird table, or ground feeding trays, scatter an insect and mealworm feast mix of yellow millet, black sunflower, naked and pinhead oats, cut maize, flaked wheat, sunflower hearts, kibbled peanuts and the blackbird’s favourite, mealworms.

Mealworms are protein-rich and many birds favour this food. Dried mealworm is preferable as it high in energy as well as protein, and will not be wasted in your winter wild bird mix.

Blue Tit (Cyanistes Caeruleus)

blue tit

The blue tit (Cyanistes Caeruleus) is a yellow and blue, acrobatic bird that migrates nationally in winter to suburban areas from the countryside and woodland. Blue tits are opportunistic birds, eating anything and everything that is available. As these are tiny, agile birds, they can find food in small crevices and hiding spots, where insects may be residing such as caterpillar moths, small spiders, beetles and aphids (greenflies, blackflies, whiteflies). The blue, great and coal tit also eat small seeds all year round and will suck on nectar and sweet fruits in the summer months. They will try to find food near homes and in gardens in the winter months when natural foods on trees and bushes are scarce.

They adore tasty suet pellets and suet cakes which are high in fat as they are constantly moving and requiring lots of energy. High energy wild bird food is best suited for foraging blue tits in the summer; this will include sunflower hearts, kibbled peanuts and tasty suet cakes. From a hanging feeder, pour in non-germinating seeds and wild bird food mix made of nyjer seed, kibbled peanuts, naked oats, red and white dari, kibbled sunflower hearts, flaked wheat, red millet.

 The blue tit is agile enough to feed from bird feeders and hang upside down from branches to attain food. They will avoid food on the ground in open spaces and so a feeder with a tray below to catch any fallen seeds, will keep food from being wasted on the ground.

Great Tit (Parus Major)

Great Tit

The great tit (Parus Major) is the largest of the European tits, looking strikingly similar to the blue tit with its yellow breast and greenish feathers. It is differentiated by its black colour on the crown, throat and nape, and is nearer in size to the house sparrow. The male great tit in comparison to its female counterpart has a slightly wider black strip along its nape and breast. During winter, these wild birds are usually sedentary and territorial like the blue tit, and will move from highlands to lowlands for the colder months in search of food. They do not mind kitchen left overs such as bread, rice and fats but these can be harmful to birds if there are signs of spoiling. The great tit is similar to the blue tit in its diet and will feed on kibbled peanuts, wild bird seed mix, and they will especially love the suet cakes rich in energy for their lively and active habits.

Song Thrush (Turdus Philomelos)

Thrush Bird

The song thrush (Turdus Philomelos) is a red listed bird, which means they have halved in number, and so is an infrequent visitor in our gardens. Fortunately, providing bird food in your garden for wild birds may attract this elusive and beautiful bird. Both male and female thrushes are usually noticeable by their cream breasts with brown spotted and speckled patterns. The name song thrush is given because of its rhythmic chirping. A song thrush is slightly smaller than the mistle thrush and resides in hedgerows, parks, gardens and woodlands. They have a diet of particularly insects, worms and berries but when the ground is frozen over and hard to split, snails are another option for food. Song thrushes are clever and are known for their ability to smash snails against a rock or hard surface to dismantle the shell casing. In your garden, place a feeding dish in a corner of your garden which has some cover for the thrush to eat in. Pour in a bird food feast of tasty mealworms, mixed with berries and small insects.

Mealworms are high in protein and robins adore them. This food is also popular amongst other birds such as the blackbird, some members of the tit family and the house sparrow. Providing mealworms in your hanging bird feeder or caged feeding dish will ensure a necessary replenishment of protein for wild birds. This excellent supplement will help birds produce healthy feathers and bodies as insects in our gardens have dramatically declined in numbers over the last 20years because of agriculture and decreasing woodlands.

Mealworms are protein-rich and many birds favour this food. Dried mealworm is preferable as it high in energy as well as protein, and will not be wasted in your winter wild bird mix.

Kibbled peanuts are made especially for wild bird food. These mature peanuts are chopped (kibbled) into smaller pieces making it easy for birds to eat and prevent choking or blocking in smaller birds.

Suet is great in providing birds with a healthy and important energy boost for the winter months. Suet is nutritionally balanced animal fat; usually beef, with peanut and/or seed flour. Suet is packed with calories and useful energy for a wide range of garden birds. Suet comes in pellets which are perfect for robins, blackbirds and members of the tit family (blue and great).  Pellets can be placed in a peanut or a suet pellet feeder. An alternative to suet pellets are the suet cakes, which come in a variety of shapes and sizes, the most common being coconut shell filled suet. Suet cake is a high-energy treat and is compact with mealworms, seeds, peanuts and of course fat to attract the great tit, blue tit, robin and also sparrow.

Helpful Tips for Feeding Wild Birds in Summer

  • If you have a whole host of birds visiting you this summer, then consider using a large bird feeder to feed larger quantities of bird food. Alternatively, use multiple hanging feeders around the garden to allow more bird interaction and feeding space.
  • Hang your bird feeder close to shrubs, hedgerows or trees. This will allow garden birds to fly to, if they feel there is a reason to escape. Birds are vulnerable creatures so keep your feeder in a safe position to deter being attacked by predators. 
  • If you want to view your bird feeder, allow some distance from where you can see your feeder, so not to startle them; then sit back, while you watch the wide range of birds visit your garden. 
  • A ground feeder is also risky business for bird visitors, so position this at least 2 metres from low cover as cats are most likely to pounce when it appears they have shallow cover. 
  • Be mindful that a ground feeder will take some time to get used to for your garden birds, so this will be a patient waiting game for you and them!