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I am most concerned having just read about the fat balls so many of us hang up for our garden birds. It was said that many of these are low in fat, and include fillers like sand, sawdust, and even glue. Oh dear, I am shocked and upset. How can we be expected to know such things? I guess there are many makes. and indeed shops selling bird food. No doubt a paying game, as so many of us are keen to do our best for our lovely garden birds at this time of year. What can we do?

Not just quality also size.

several years ago it took three balls to fill feeder now four.


home made does the job 


There are several sources rpound here and they all seem to be about the same price as the RSPB ones.  I suppose the best way to check is to heat one of them and see what transpires. Could also apply to several other suet/fat bird feeders like coconut halves.



I am guilty of buying cheap fatballs although I do always make sure they don't have nets.

I love feeding the birds and seeing them in my garden but feel loathed to be spending more on garden birds than I do on my own pets.

Does anyone have recommendations of reasonably priced and good quality bird food that you can buy in reasonably large quantities online? 

Thank you muchly! 

Why not make your own fat balls or fat feeders, its very easy and you know what the birds are getting. 

Recipe: lard, suet, various nuts and seeds, bread, dried fruit, meal worms, bung the lot into a saucepan to melt the lard mix then pop the mixtures, into old yoghurt containers to set. You can pop a piece of wire/string in the in the middle to hang them, hey presto, fat feeds. Quality assured, no dangerous plastic or netting for the birds to get caught in. You can use old pine cones and pack them with the mixture as well.


How long does it keep when you make your own? 

I have bought cheap ones before in a sealed tub.  When I opened them they were very crumbly but I put them out (without nets).  Birds refused to eat them!

I now give them either suet pellets which they love (but aren't cheap) or the 'basics brand' of raisins from my local supermarket.  I also mix with the wild bird seed to keep the smaller species happy.

Don't use them. Attracts Jackdaws in my garden and disappear very rapidly. The only food I use are sunflower hearts which I get from Britvale. Free delivery for reasonable order, overnight. Very good value.

All the usual finches, tits and other lbj's and frequent woodpecker and tree creepers. Now if I could just get rid of the parrots.

Hi Trillium2cv

Re parrotts. We were plagued by them as well but have managed to find some feeders to out fox them. They are sphere/globe metal grid type squirrel guard with the feeder in the middle and far enough away that they can't get their beaks to the food. Can't remember what make they are off hand but will find out for you. 

Also tried putting the long slim squirrel guardians over feeders to stop the parrotts but it did not work as the parrots could still reach the food. 

I have heard also that if you use a feeder guardian and put uncut cable ties protruding out occasionally around a feeder guardian this can work.  So might try this for the long squirrel guards and see if it works. 


Poddington, if you keep them in the fridge they last for a while, about a week. The beauty though is that you can stick them in the freezer and take them out as needed. No need to defrost them either, just hang them up, birds will go for them when frozen, as the fat content doesn't freeze hard so they can peck away as soon as they go out. 



I don't have space in my freezer nor a good source of lard so I buy fat balls from a local source I trust - no RSPB here - and then peanuts and mixed seed either in bags or loose depending on prices which vary through the year.   They aso get fat blocks with fruit or mealworms when I can find them.   

I feed the birds throughout the year so they survive winter and make healthy eggs and have the energy to scour my garden for pesty insects and caterpillars to feed their babies in spring and summer.   There is now a healthy resident colony of sparrows as well as great and blue tits and we get visiting chaffinches, siskins, wrens, dunnocks, robins, blackbirds, thrushes, woodpeckers and some I've never identified as well as pheasants, jays, jackdaws and an occasional sparrowhawk.   

I love the animation and chatter and have no need for chemical pesticides so it's a win win double whammy for me and the birds.

I use melted suet + seeds, nuts, sultanas  etc. in an old coconut shell.


I was concerned reading about the fillers put into fat balls etc.  I have been checking ingredients. Surely companies must have to say what's in them. Even if is dressed up a bit to obviously not sound like rubbish.  Perhaps I am naive, after the horse meat scandal.  I enjoy feeding the birds and wouldn't like to think I'm feeding them rubbish. How do you find out if the stuff you are buying is the good stuff?

Also I did try and make my own food once.  But the lard option just made me feel ill. Ive been a vegetarian most of my life. I'm not used to the lardy smell. but I like the idea of making my our food. I did look at vegetable suet in the supermarket the other day. This thread fresh in my mind. Being a terrible cook I'm not entirely sure if this would work for bird feeders or what I would actually do with it.I do seem to get through at lot of food. Perhaps my birds are over fed. There in for a culture shock when I produce my own. 

If you are vegetarian I would not attempt to make fat balls. The birds can exist on nuts and seeds very well, and niger seeds for the goldfinches, etc.

When I am plagued by starlings I also feed cheap porridge oats, too.