Feeding Garden Birds

Bird Feeding Tips
Irish Version of Site

  • Dog Food: Large birds eat dog food, a cheaper alternative to seed.
  • Don't Toss those Egg Shells: Birds use grits to help them digest seed. Mix crumbled eggshells in your seed as a grit-alternative and an added calcium source.
  • Reduce Waste & Mess: Use a feeder with a tray under it to catch leftover seeds or seed shells.
  • Some birds follow strict feeding regimes and some birds will feed on almost anything.  Knowing their preferences will help if you want to attract specific birds. Scroll down for information on the feeding preferences of the 20 most commongarden birds, so that you can attract your favorites.
  • Avoid Overfeeding: Too many birds together is unnatural, unsanitary, wasteful and dangerous to birds. Viewing only a few birds is more appealing than a bunch of noisy fighting birds.  It is best to cut them off occasionally. They will find feed elsewhere and come back when you feed again. This will promote independence and make them more resourceful, smarter, and healthier.
  • Keep the bird feeder clean. Attracting flocks of birds to unsanitary feeders causes immeasurable harm to our feathered friends by promoting the spread of contagious diseases, bacterial infections, intestinal illnesses, and death.

PeanutsMixed SeedBird CakeSunflower HeartsBlack Sunflower SeedNyjer SeedKitchen/
Bird Table Scraps





Great Tit



Coal Tit



House Sparrow


Song Thrush




Collared Dove




Some birds such as blackbirds and robins cannot cling to a seed feeder and need the food left on a table or in the case of a blackbird spread on the ground.

Water to drink and wash in is very important for the birds. A bird bath is a useful addition to any garden to encourage birds in, but must be regularly cleaned and filled.

Recent years have seen severe declines in our finch numbers as a result of the spread of a fatal infection known as trichomonosis. Over the last six winters the number of greenfinches visiting feeders has halved. Greenfinches are the hardest hit but other finches and house sparrows can also be affected. By the time an ill bird can be caught it is almost invariably too late to help them, but you can prevent the spread of this disease and others to your garden through some simple hygiene care. Feeder food levels should be monitored carefully to avoid overfeeding and to ensure the surrounding areas are free from droppings and mouldy food. Washing bird tables and feeders with 5% disinfectant solution and rearranging them regularly can also help to prevent bacteria and parasites from bedding in. Always keep food in a dry and cool environment away from pets or other animals to avoid contamination.

The nests of most birds harbour fleas and other parasites, which remain to infest young birds that hatch the following year. We recommend that old nests be removed from bird boxes in October or November. Use boiling water to kill any remaining parasites. Insecticides and flea powders must not be used.If you place a small handful of clean hay or wood shavings (not straw) in the box once it is thoroughly dry after cleaning, it may be used during the winter by small mammals or birds for hibernating or roosting in respectively.

Useful links

Birdwatch Ireland - http://www.birdwatchireland.ie/

Birdwatch Ireland FAQ - http://www.birdwatchireland.ie/Advice/FAQ/GardenBirdFAQ/tabid/368/Default.aspx

The Royal Society for Protection of Birds - http://www.rspb.org.uk/

Southend RSPB - http://www.southendrspb.co.uk/advice.htm

General Information - http://www.dublin.ie/yvonneportfolio/?pageID=51&siteID=691