Best bird food for winter

best bird food for winter

Table of Contents

The winter months can be tough for our feathered friends. Small birds such as wrens, finches and robins can build up a fat reserve, but it will only keep them warm for a few days. As cold snaps stretch into weeks and food becomes scarce, the smaller species can really suffer. Which is why we see many of you ask, what the best bird food for winter is.

Thankfully, we can help these birds out by offering suitable foods in our gardens. You just need to make sure you are offering the best bird food for winter when fat stores are more important than other months. Who knows, you may even attract some new bird breeds to your little bit countryside.

In this article, we cover the best bird food for winter to help smaller birds thrive, even during the coldest of months.

Best Foods For Birds In The Winter In The UK 

  1. Sunflower hearts

Sunflower hearts are one of the best bird foods for winter as the birds don’t need to waste valuable energy removing the shells from the seeds. They are also high in healthy fats to build up winter energy stores.

You can sprinkle a helping of these on your bird table or ground feeder, mixed with nuts and other quality bird seed. 

  1. Fat balls

Fat balls are a fantastic winter food for garden birds. They contain a high fat content and are usually composed of lard, solid vegetable oil or suet. Other ingredients may include seeds and nuts. 

You can hang your fat balls from a tree and small birds will be able to perch to have their winter meal. 

  1. Peanuts

Peanuts are another high calorie, fatty food that is loved by jays, crows, doves, cardinals and other garden birds. Peanuts make the best bird food for winter because of the high fat content and the fact that they don’t freeze, even in sub zero temperatures.

It would be best to offer shelled peanuts during the winter so that the birds can conserve their energy. You may also offer peanuts mixed in a fat ball or with other seeds for an extra fatty boost.

Remember, grey squirrels will enjoy a peanut or two (or the whole lot!). To deter grey squirrels away from the peanuts you can try sprinkling a little cayenne pepper or spice on the nuts. The birds will not be phased by the spice, but the squirrels will stay clear. 

  1. Mealworms 

During the winter months insects will be a little harder for birds to find on their own. Offer mealworms to help boost their protein intake during the colder months. 

Mealworms are loved by many birds and will likely attract tits, sparrows, blackbirds, starlings, robins and thrushes. 

Sprinkle your mealworms across any of your feeding stations to encourage different birds to stop by for a meal. 

  1. Fruit 

One of the best bird foods for winter will be soft fruit. During the colder months fruits and berries will not be so abundant as they are at other times of the year. Birds enjoy the following fruits:

  1. Apples
  2. Cherries
  3. Mango
  4. Oranges
  5. Elderberries
  6. Berries 
  7. Plums
  8. Grapes
  9. Raisins
  10. Pumpkin

6. Leftovers!

While you are waiting for your delivery of mealworms, peanuts, seeds and fat balls, there are some leftover foods that you can share with our feathered friends. 

If you have cupboards full of mince pies after Christmas you can crush them up and put them out for the birds. The pastry on the pies will be a good source of energy for them and the soft fruit will provide nutrients.

Christmas cake is another good food to share with garden birds as it has both nuts and fruit, with low salt content. You can soften the fruit a little more by soaking it in water first if needed. 

Hard, mild cheese that you’re not going to finish makes an ideal, high fat, winter snack for birds. Robins, blackbirds and song thrushes are particularly partial to a piece of cheese! You can also scatter some of the cheese on the ground where you have noticed ground feeders eating. 

Best bird food for winter – in a nutshell

  • Think high fat 
  • Remove shells to make it effortless to access 
  • Provide high fat, protein rich meals
  • Soften fruits in water
  • Share your low salt leftovers