Bird food is a small but crucial way of supporting British wildlife. Provide meals for birds and their young and you will be rewarded with beautiful birdsong and displays of natural colour.
Bird food is a vital source of energy for birds. It feeds not only adult birds but also their chicks and makes birds bigger and stronger, ensuring a healthier population. It also means you’ll have birds visiting your garden all day long.
A host of different bird feed is available to provide for a wide variety of birds, all year-round. Mixed bird feed will feed insectivores, omnivores, and vegetarian birds alike. Alternatively, you can tailor your food to the birds you know visit your garden or that you hope to attract. Insectivores like house martins won’t go for sunflower hearts; conversely, wood pigeons won’t eat from feeders filled with mealworms.
In our selection we’ve also included bird food specifically formulated for gardeners, so if any over-eager bird spills seed into your flower beds or lawns, it won’t self-sow.
Looking to support British Wildlife? Have a look at our guide to bird feeders or bird tables. Offer birds a home with our guide to bird nesting boxes and check up on your new wild companions with a bird box camera.
Types of bird food
Insects – insects such as dried mealworms are great for most British birds, which are largely omnivorous. However, vegetarian and vegan humans may want to avoid buying these.
Protein sources – high-energy, high-protein food like sunflower hearts, suet or nuts are vital in winter. However, in too large a quantity these can be extremely fattening and unhealthy, so make sure visiting birds don’t eat too much.
Seeds and grains – these are helpful all year round and are a mainstay of most birds’ diet.
Winter/spring – the best bird food for winter and spring is heavy, protein-rich food like suet. In the colder seasons it’s crucial that birds find high-energy snacks to feed themselves and their chicks.
Summer/Autumn – lighter food like oats and millet are great for summer, when food is more plentiful and chicks are grown.
Nine nutritious bird feeds for your garden
Peckish Natural Balance Seed Mix, 1.7kg
This mixed bird food is perfect for supporting a wide variety of birds. It also has great green credentials – its packaging is entirely recyclable and contains no plastic.
Price: £4 for 1.7kg
RSPB No grow ground mix
This no-grow mix is good for fastidious gardeners. The mix has been selected and cut to lower the chance of this feed germinating in your garden. It’s a hearty mix of suet, rolled oats and flaked maize – perfect for bigger songbirds like blackbirds.
Price: £18.99 for 5.5kg
Garden Wildlife Direct All Year Round Bird Seed Mix
This bird seed is designed to be a come-one, come all solution for birds. Rather than swapping between high-calorie food in winter and lighter seeds in summer, use this mix year round. Great for busy gardener and comes in a range of quantities from 2 to 50 kilos.
Price £5.99 for 5kg
RSPB Favourites blend bird food
The RSPB have combined their best-selling bird foods into this mix of ingredients. With sunflower hearts, a pellet mix of suet and raisins, and dried mealworms, this bird food is the avian equivalent of a full English: high-protein, high-calorie sustenance.
Price: £7.49 for 1.8kg
National Trust CJ Wildlife Hi-Energy No Mess Seed Mix
This seed mix is good for birds and good for your lawns and patios. With no wheat filler or husks, this bird food won’t leave debris all over your garden, but still provides great nutrition.
Price: £8 for 3 litres
Extra Select Premium Wild Bird Food
Five litres of seed for just £7.19 is a steal, and with eight different ingredients, this bird food is perfect for attracting a wide variety of birds. A great starting point for first-time use or gardeners on a budget.
Price:£7.19 for 5 litres
RHS Complete Seed Mix Bird Feed
This mix of seeds from the RHS is great year round, but especially useful in spring and winter when food is scarce. It has nongerminating seeds, so there’s no self-sowing, and is designed to appeal to as many birds as possible.
£4.79 for 2kg
Peckish Complete Seed and Nut
This is an impressive mix of twelve different seeds and nuts. It’s no-mess and is also vitamin fortified to help birds grow strong bones and produce robust eggshells. Great for attracting songbirds.
Price: £9.75 for 5kg
Seedzbox Ultimate Deluxe Wild Bird Seed Feed
This bird feed mix has a remarkable variety of ingredients. It’s designed to not only maximise the number of birds enjoying your garden, but to provide them with a diverse source of proteins and carbohydrates. This seed also donates to One Tree Planted, a non-profit which plants trees.
Price: £9.99 for 2kg