There are many benefits to having birds in your garden. They eat a variety of insects and therefore provide effective pest control. Some birds are excellent plant pollinators, and can even help you to control weeds. If you want to attract more birds to your garden, try putting out these foods:
1. Peanut butter
It’s not just people who love peanut butter. Turns out, birds love it too! Although it’s used a base for birdseed cakes, birds will also eat peanut butter as is. Put the peanut butter in the holes of a log feeder, or simply smear it on tree bark! Just make sure it’s unflavored peanut butter with no added salt.
2. Jellies and Jams
It may surprise you that birds also have a sweet tooth, especially oriole and woodpecker species! Any jelly, jam, preserve, or marmalade will attract these birds to your garden. Try putting out jams and jellies that are made with real fruits and sugar, and stay away from ones made with sugar-substitutes. Ingredients such as aspartame, sucralose, or stevia might be toxic for birds. They won’t be able to digest it, and it won’t be a suitable energy source for them.
If you have overripe fruits, you can also put them out for birds to feed on.
Don’t throw eggshells away, keep them for your garden. Eggshells provide nesting females with much-needed calcium. The eggshells act as grit during the food digesting process in the bird’s gizzards, especially those which eat seeds and insects. Crush egg shells and add it to bird seed or simply sprinkle them on the ground.
If your nuts have gone rancid, throw them in the garden instead of the trash. They are packed with proteins and fats, making them perfect bird food. Tits, finches, and woodpeckers are especially fond of nuts. When putting out peanuts (which is technically a legume), be careful to grind them up first.
When chicks start to hatch, large nuts that are fed to them can pose as a choking hazard, which is why nuts should not be too big. Also make sure not to use salted or seasoned nuts!
In the same way, seeds are also full of protein and fats for birds. House sparrows, finches, and doves enjoy small seeds like millet, while flaked maize are usually preferred by blackbirds. If you’d like to see more tits and greenfinches, try sprinkling sunflower seeds in your garden.
If you regularly scatter wheat and barley grains, you will attract ground feeding birds like pigeons or pheasants, but keep in mind that they might also deter smaller bird species. Again, avoid using large seeds during spring and summer time to prevent the possible choking of baby chicks.
What to avoid
Be careful when putting out food for birds. Think of possible choking hazards (especially during spring and summer), but also consider other animals in the area. For instance, birds feed on cat food too, but if you put out cat food, you might attract a neighbor’s cat instead of birds!
Even though birds can digest dairy products, it’s best to avoid giving them milk. It can lead to digestive problems, and may even kill them.
Scattering oats in the garden is fine for most species, but avoid putting out cooked oats. The oats are too glutinous and can harden on the birds’ beaks.