What can and cannot feed birds in winter?


Feeding wild wintering birds in your garden or park is not just an act of mercy for our smaller brothers, but also a contribution to the future harvest. According to ornithologists, one titmouse can save up to 10 trees per season from pests, and one feeding trough provides food for up to 50 tits! The fact that most often sunflower seeds are poured into the feeder is known even to a child. But there are many different types of kitchen waste that can also become a food source for birds. Some products from our table are ideal for birds, while others can do more harm than good. Let’s take a closer look at how birds can and cannot be fed.

What can and cannot feed birds in winter?

What food is best for feeding wild birds?

The great nutritional value and high calorie content of the food will give the birds a lot of energy and will ensure the creation of fat reserves in them, which will help the birds survive the cold winter nights. Therefore, you need to feed the birds in your garden with quality food.

Most garden bird species will like sunflower seeds, nuts, and live or dried flour worms. For convenience, you can use ready-made specialized high-quality mixtures for birds. In this case, choose food containing a large number of sunflower seeds and millet. Mixtures with a large amount of unappetizing fillers, such as wheat and corn, are not very attractive to birds.

Avoid seed mixtures that contain beans, peas, rice, and lentils. Only large species of birds can eat them dry, but these very rarely fly to the feeders. But ready-made bird food and sunflower seeds are not the only suitable foods you can feed birds with.

Using kitchen waste as a top dressing for birds, you use excess products for a good deed. But you could just throw them away! Turning waste into food for birds, you lose nothing. And birds at the same time enjoy a wide variety of food, again and again flying to the feeders.

Attention: do not forget that the basis of the diet for feeding birds should still be specialized mixtures or sunflower seeds. If the birds did not eat anything other than kitchen waste, they would not be able to get enough nutrients for healthy growth and replenishment of energy. However, improper nutrition can lead to health problems, such as obesity or feather deformation. In order not to harm, offer food waste in limited quantities.

The most frequent guest on the feeders is the common great tit, which is capable of consuming a wide variety of types of food.

The best products for birds from our table

Fruits and berries without seeds or seeds

Many fruits, berries, raisins, fresh grapes and even bananas and oranges can be used to feed birds. They will certainly enjoy such a treat. While many birds will enjoy fruit in hot countries, those birds that remain with us for the winter will also have the opportunity to enjoy a vitamin supplement.

Arrange the sliced ​​apples, tangerine slices, banana slices, half grapes and melon peel inside the feeders, hang them on spikes or thin branches of trees, and the birds will certainly appreciate the treat. Shredded or dried fruits and berries (for example, cranberries) can be threaded to create a garland that will not only feed the birds, but also decorate the garden.

Boiled rice

Leftovers of cooked brown or white rice often remain in the kitchen, and the wild birds in your garden will also enjoy the rice porridge. Some species of birds, such as pigeons and doves, can eat raw and brown and polished rice. However, other species are unlikely to enjoy it, because the grains they seem too hard.


Leftover cooked pasta can also go to the manger. At the same time, the pasta should be soft, and before serving, they should be cut into small enough pieces so that the birds can keep them in their beak. However, never give birds pasta that has been seasoned with fatty sauces, hot spices or melted viscous cheeses.


In the wild, birds eat a lot of different plant foods, and sliced ​​vegetables can also be a welcome treat for them. Feathered birds can be offered pumpkin, frozen green peas or corn (before being put into the feeder, they should first be thawed). Pieces of canned vegetables from vegetable mixtures can also occasionally be offered to birds.


Due to its very high calorie content, lard is one of the best products from our table that can be offered to birds. This is an excellent winter food for birds! Salo is a part of treats for birds in combination with various ingredients, which allows you to use it to attract different types of birds.

Treats made from seeds, nuts, seeds and melted lard can be given a different shape, for example, balls, bells and rings, which will allow you to get more pleasure from feeding the birds. You can also cut fat into small sticks or grate it so that even more birds can taste it. Attention! For feeding birds only unsalted fat is used!

Read also our article Flower garden for birds.

Fat should be unsalted as a top dressing.

Boiled potatoes

This may seem implausible, but not only people, but also birds like to eat potatoes. You can treat the birds with the remnants of fried potatoes from your table, offer them mashed potatoes or a whole boiled potato. These dishes are guaranteed to be popular among your feathered friends. Avoid processed potatoes, such as potato chips, for example.

Peanuts and various nuts

Peanuts are a high-calorie and fat-rich product that attracts many wild birds, including jays, sparrows and tits. Since the nuts do not freeze and become hard, they are ideal for winter feeding, whether you offer peanuts in shells or in peeled form.

But never offer peanuts to birds with any additives, as well as chocolate or other coating. Also keep in mind that peanuts can contain large amounts of natural toxin, which causes the death of birds. Therefore, it is ideal to buy peanuts, which are designed specifically for feeding birds (can be found in the pet store). Other nuts such as almonds, walnuts and pecans are also attractive to birds. All nuts must be raw (not fried).

Oatmeal and cereal

Oatmeal is also great for many birds. Oatmeal can be a good source of nutritious food for birds in your garden. Moreover, such top dressing is easily accessible and is often available in our kitchen. But still, it is best to feed the birds with raw oats, including oatmeal, as boiled oatmeal can harden around the bird's beak.


Millet mainly attracts house sparrows, pigeons, finches and reed buntings (if they winter in your area). However, many ornithologists do not recommend feeding birds with millet, as it has few nutrients and is rapidly oxidized in the open air, which is not useful for birds. In raw form, millet and wheat will be feathered. And boiled cereal without salt can be used almost any, including buckwheat.

Eggs and eggshell

Boiled chicken eggs can be added to the feeder, as they contain many important nutrients for birds. Chopped eggshells are also beneficial for birds, as they are an important source of calcium for all types of birds and help the digestion process.

Pumpkin seeds

When cutting pumpkins, we often have a whole mountain of seeds, why not offer them birds? Pumpkin seeds are very nutritious for birds, especially in the fall, when they need more energy to migrate, molt and store fat to resist the cold. Pumpkin seeds are high in carbohydrates and fats. They are a good source of protein, various trace elements and nutrients that are necessary for a full diet of wild birds.

Raw seeds, freshly removed from the pumpkin, can be immediately emptied into the feeder, or pre-dried. It is not necessary to grind the seeds, the birds themselves will cope with this task, tearing off pieces of the peel in order to get the pulp.

Near the feeders you can see rare species of birds, for example, the oak tree, which loves nuts.

What can not feed the birds?

Fruit seeds or seeds of pome crops

As mentioned above, most fruits are suitable for feeding birds, but it is important to avoid fruits that have seeds or seeds. If you are going to feed the birds in your garden with apples, pears, apricots, peaches, nectarines or plums, be sure to completely remove all seeds or seeds in advance. Seeds and seeds of these crops contain a toxic compound - cyanide, but the fruits purified from seeds are absolutely safe for birds to eat.


The digestive system of birds is not intended for the proper digestion of milk. Eating dairy products can lead to indigestion or even more serious health problems for birds, so never put a saucer of milk in the trough.


Although bread, in principle, is not harmful to birds, it is better not to feed them with bakery products in large quantities. They not only have a very low nutritional value, but can also ferment in the digestive system of birds. This can lead to digestive problems up to the death of birds.

A small amount of dried crumbs will not do any harm to the birds. But it is better to use whole grain or white bread, while it should not contain spices and sweet additives. Moldy bread should never be offered to birds!


Like us, it can be difficult for birds to resist chocolate or chocolate products. However, even in very small amounts, chocolate can be toxic to birds. This is because chocolate contains theobromine and caffeine, which can cause vomiting, diarrhea in birds, increase heart rate, which leads to hyperactivity, seizures, and sometimes death of birds.


For many birds, salt is an important mineral. But just as an excess of salt is not good for humans, it is bad for birds. And even very little salt is potentially toxic to a small bird. For example, just one salted cracker or cracker can upset the water-electrolyte balance in a tiny bird’s body. This can lead to extreme thirst, dehydration, renal failure, and ultimately to death of the bird.

Onion and garlic

Many might think that onions and garlic, like other vegetables, are good for birds. However, both in raw and heat-treated form, they are toxic to many animals and birds. Onions contain sulfur compounds, which can irritate the mucous membrane of the mouth, bird's esophagus, causing ulcers. Garlic, on the other hand, contains allicin, another chemical that causes anemia and weakness in birds. So from spicy it is better to treat the bird with a small piece of pepper, rich in vitamin A.

Raw meat

Many birds are carnivores, but do not offer them any kind of raw meat, including minced meat or meat waste. The fact is that these products deteriorate very quickly, and they produce very dangerous bacteria that can kill birds. In addition, meat dressing can attract unwanted guests to the garden in the form of mice and rats.

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Crispbread and crackers, any chips and crackers, biscuits, corn flakes, kozinaki, popcorn or popped rice are poison for birds and can never be used to feed birds.