Garden, Home and Garden

What to Feed Birds In the Winter (And What Not To Feed Them)

what to feed birds in the winter

Want to know what to feed garden birds in the winter in the UK? Read on for all the details.

Winter is just around the corner and our little feather friends need our help over the cold months ahead.  I’ve put together a little handy Moral Fibres guide on what to feed birds in the winter, to help you and the birds out.

There are a few do’s and don’ts about feeding garden birds that perhaps not everyone is aware of.  Therefore it’s wise to give this a read-over before you pop any food out!

What Food To Put Out For Birds In The Winter

how to feed wild birds in your garden


When buying bird seed for garden birds look for a high-quality mixed bag of seed.  Mixes that contain sunflower seeds, maize, and peanut granules are great, as well as ones containing small and large seeds.  These kinds of mixes make them suitable for a wide variety of garden birds.

It is best to avoid mixes containing a high quantity of pulses.  These include split peas, lentils, beans, as well as rice.  This is because smaller species of garden birds (who tend to need food the most in winter) are unable to eat these items.

If you’re feeding birds seed, bear in mind that you’ll need some kind of feeder.  Birdseed can be placed loosely on a bird table*.  Alternatively, pop it in a bird feeder.


Mealworms are appreciated by most garden birds all year round, especially robins and blackbirds.  Buy good quality mealworms from a local pet shop or garden centre, or from the RSPB, and pop them on a bird table*.

If you are especially committed you can breed your own mealworms.  I’m the first to admit that I feel a little squeamish about breeding them, so I am happy to continue purchasing them from a shop!

Fat Balls

feeding wild birds fat balls

The words ‘fat balls’ always make me giggle, but in all seriousness, fat balls are a great source of food and energy for garden birds in the winter.  I find they really solve the question of what to feed birds in the winter.

Fat balls tend to be made of lard/suet, nuts, cereals, and sunflower seeds.  As such they are densely packed with essential energy and fats for birds.  Great Tits love fat balls (snigger), as do other tits, sparrows, starlings, blackbirds, and black caps.

You can make your own fat balls, or you can buy fat balls in pet shops and garden centres.  They tend to come packaged in mesh bags.  A word of warning: never hang the mesh bag in your garden as the mesh can trap birds’ feet.  Instead, take them out of the bag and put them into a fat ball holder*.  Our one above, taken a couple of years ago in a particularly snowy winter, is a metal one from Homebase.  If you don’t have a holder, you can set them on a bird table*.

Fat balls are most appreciated by garden birds in the winter when fatty food sources are hard to come by.  However, you should not put fat balls out in the summer months.  Here they can rot in the heat, and make birds ill.


Contrary to popular belief, bread is not the best food to feed wild birds.  It tends to fill them up with little nutritional benefit.  Therefore it is best given to birds as part of a varied assortment of food on your bird table.  Any kind of bread is fine, but brown is preferable, and all bread should be soaked first.

Putting out large chunks of bread during the breeding season (spring and summer) should be avoided at all costs in case of natural food shortages.  If a natural food shortage occurs birds may feed bread to their hatchlings – potentially causing them to choke and die.


nut feeder

Nuts should always be put out in your garden in a special nut feeder* (as above) that only allows birds to take little nibbles of nuts.  Alternatively, you can crush them into very small chunks, as again nuts can pose a choking hazard.

Other Household Food Scraps

Soft fruits, porridge oats (uncooked), grated cheese, cooked pasta and rice, soaked currants, raisins and sultanas, biscuit crumbs, and pastry crumbs are all great foods to feed birds with during the winter.  Fresh coconut is fine, but desiccated coconut should never be given to birds.

Finely chopped unsalted bacon and fats from other unsalted meats are all ok.  Potatoes, mashed, baked, or roasted are also welcomed by birds.  Anything salted should be avoided on your bird table, as should any margarine or soft fats, and anything mouldy or off.

You can also use soaked cat and dog food, and tinned pet food.  However, it is worth bearing in mind that the use of these may attract cats.

Food scraps should always be placed on a bird table as sprinkling on the ground can attract rats and mice.


Now we’ve established what to feed birds in the winter, it’s important to talk about water.  All birds appreciate it if you can put out a supply of fresh drinking water by your bird table in a shallow container for drinking.  In winter, this will freeze over quickly, so do try and change it regularly.

Other Useful Tips For Feeding Wild Birds in Winter

Clean your feeders, tables, water pots, and birdbaths regularly to prevent the spread of disease in wild bird populations.  A mild disinfectant liberally diluted in water will do the trick.

Avoid the use of ornamental mirrors in your garden too.  Mirrors can confuse birds.  They will see your garden in the mirror and fly straight into the mirror.  This runs the risk of the bird breaking their neck and potentially killing them.

If you are feeding birds very close to your house it is also advisable to place stickers on your windows to deter birds from flying straight at your window.  Again for the same reasons as above.

Once you start feeding garden birds for the first time it will take a little while for the birds to find it, so don’t expect swathes of birds instantly!  Here’s a guide on how to attract wild birds to your garden if you are struggling!

And once you start feeding birds, it is best if you can consistently feed them, especially in winter, as they may come to rely on your offerings.

I hope you’ve found this guide on what to feed birds in the winter useful!  Have fun and do remember to report back here and let me know what birds you have seen in your garden!  You may also attract other animals, such as squirrels, which are also fascinating to watch.  My parents accumulated four regular squirrel visitors to their garden last winter.  It was a lot of fun watching them find inventive and unusual ways to get to the food in the feeders!

ps: here’s how to attract bees to your garden too.

how to feed garden birds
Fashion, Life & Style

Where to Buy Ethical Wedding Dresses for the Sustainable Bride

where to buy vintage wedding dresses

Looking for eco-friendly and ethical wedding dresses? I’ve got you covered with these gorgeous sustainable suggestions.

So, let’s chat about ethical wedding dresses. If you are have arrived on here through a search engine, then first let me offer my congratulations to you and your partner! And also, let me congratulation you on your intention to put some ethical consideration into your big day.

Image from Cambridge Vintage Bridal* on Etsy

The wedding industry business is massive – think £14.7 billion sized – and geared towards excess. A lot of resources go into just one day. Of course, it’s not any old day, it is your one big day. However, that’s not to say that your big day has to leave a big footprint on the planet.

The Guardian has calculated that the average wedding in the UK will produce one-third of a metric tonne of solid waste and 14.5 tonnes of carbon dioxide in just one day. Looking to make your wedding more ethical and sustainable is to be applauded.

I’ve got lots of sustainable wedding ideas, but your wedding dress is a great place to start. Here are some gorgeous ethical wedding dresses that prove that sustainable doesn’t have to mean frumpy.

Ethical Wedding Dresses

where to buy vintage wedding dresses

Say yes to the dress with these shopping options for sustainable and ethical wedding dresses:


At a time when the average cost of a wedding is £24,000, opting for a pre-loved wedding dress isn’t just good for the planet, but good for your pocket too. eBay* has a wealth of secondhand (but not second-best) wedding dresses for sale. Make sure you select the ‘used’ option in the filter, otherwise you will be presented with a load of wedding dresses that are made in China.

eBay can be overwhelming, but I have some really useful eBay buying tips to help you really narrow down your search to exactly what you are looking for. And even if you can’t find what you are looking for in your first search then there is even a handy email alert function for when your dream wedding dress finally appears.


ethical wedding dress uk

Etsy* has a fantastic selection of both vintage and handmade ethical wedding dresses in a vast variety of styles and sizes.  This beautiful vintage 1970’s number, above, is from Cambridge Vintage Bridal* on Etsy. At Cambridge Vintage Bridal prices for preloved wedding dresses range from £100 to £500.

Does Etsy overwhelm you? Again, Etsy has a really useful filter, where you can specify all sorts of variables. From the maximum price you want to pay, to item specifics such as hem and sleeve length, colour, neckline style and more. Get to know the filter, and you can really hone in on your dream wedding dress.

Oxfam Online

oxfam online sustainable wedding dresses

Oxfam Online* has a great selection of secondhand preloved ethical wedding dresses. And if buying a wedding dress online gives you the fear then try charity shops, one of Oxfam’s 12 specialist bridal boutiques across the country. You could even get a talented tailor/dressmaker to customise your preloved dress for something really unique and special.

Vintage Wedding Dress Shops

Finally, depending on where you live, you may have a vintage wedding dress shop near you. My closest one is Those Were The Days in Edinburgh, which sells beautiful dresses like this vintage number above. Here they stock vintage wedding dresses which span from the Edwardian era to the 1990s. Each and every item is expertly cleaned and restored before it arrives in the store, meaning you won’t find any nasty surprises.

Do let me know if you come across any other ethical wedding dress retailers. I’m keen to expand this list to make it more useful for sustainable brides-to-be!