We know that water and food are essential aids for birds in our local areas and we know the foods which are most suitable. But you may still be wondering if different species benefit more from particular foods than others. And you’d be right! There are certain food types which suit some birds more than others.

Below you can find out a little more about the best food for garden birds, what birds eat and how the items you leave out for local birds can benefit particular species, as well as the wider bird population.

Beware – grapes, sultanas, raisins and some artificial sweeteners are very toxic to dogs and other animals, so be careful if you have pets!

Food for wild birds

Seed mixes

Wild bird seed mix is a popular and effective way of feeding wild birds. The carefully selected ingredients provide a balanced diet.

Black sunflower seeds

These energy-giving seeds attract lots of wild garden birds but are especially favoured by coal, blue and great tits, house and tree sparrows, chaffinch, brambling, bullfinch, greenfinch, goldfinch and siskin.

Sunflower hearts

These are the best way to provide a high-energy, nutritious food to a wide range of wildlife. Sunflower hearts are the tasty seed inside the husk of the black sunflower seed and birds love them.

Species including coal, blue and great tits, house and tree sparrows, chaffinch, brambling, bullfinch, greenfinch, goldfinch, siskin, dunnock, robins, blackbirds, song thrushes and nuthatches will all be attracted by these items.


Traditional and nutritious, wild bird peanuts are popular with a wide variety of species and are high in essential protein and oil. Coal, blue and great tits, house and tree sparrows, chaffinch, brambling, greenfinch, goldfinch, siskin, robins, blackbirds and nuthatches are all fans.

Be careful when using peanuts, make sure they are unsalted and fresh. There is also a risk that chicks will be fed whole nuts by their parents and choke. This is easily fixed by making sure you provide peanuts in good quality wire mesh feeders.

Peanut cakes

As above, be careful when using peanuts. Although traditionally used in the winter, these energy-packed fat-based foods are a useful addition to birds’ diets during critical times such as moulting and pre-migration. It’s important to never use fat balls encased in netting as birds can get their tongues and feet tangled.

Peanut cakes attract a huge variety of wild bird including coal, blue and great tits, house sand tree sparrows, chaffinch, brambling, greenfinch, goldfinch, siskin, dunnock, robins, blackbirds, song thrush, nuthatch, collared dove and wood pigeons.

Niger seed

Niger seed is oil rich and excellent for attracting species like goldfinches, siskins and redpolls

Apples, pears and soft fruits

Fruit, particularly soft fruit or windfall, are a great autumn food and go down a treat with blackbirds and thrushes. They may also attract fieldfares and redwings, winter visitors from Scandinavia. Remember to soak raisins, sultanas and other dried fruits in water before putting them out.

Advice given by the RSPCA. For more info about wild birds and all you need to keep them well-fed, visit wilko.com.

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