It is an urban myth that feeding birds in the summer makes them lazy at sourcing their own food. In fact the longer days are an ideal time to watch them and marvel at their spectacular summer plumage. Come in store and pick up a feeder, and either use a general bird seed to attract all types of birds to your garden, or tailor your feed to specific breeds.
Sunflowers are a good choice for a wide variety of birds. Try black oil sunflower seeds for songbirds, kernels and chips for smaller birds, and larger pieces for stronger-billed larger birds.
Best for jays, sparrows, siskins, nuthatches, house finches and woodpeckers.
Nyjer are small seeds which are particularly popular with finches. As the seed is easily blown away, it is best to supply nyjer in mesh-style feeders, which means it is only really accessible to clinging birds.
Best for goldfinches, siskins, greenfinches, purple finches and redpolls.
Safflower looks like a large white sunflower seed, but the thick shell can only be cracked by bigger birds with stronger bills.
Best for jays, woodpeckers and nuthatches.
Peanuts can be offered whole or shelled, either on a platform or in a specialist feeder.
Best for tits, siskins, redpolls, nuthatches and jays.
Mealworms are favoured by insect-eating birds and are appreciated when they are trying to feed their hungry young.
Best for robins, wrens, blue tits, warblers and wagtails.
Fruit, such as bruised apples and pears, overripe berries, or small chunks of banana and orange, will attract songbirds.
Best for thrushes and blackbirds.
Only put out a small amount of feed in the summer to prevent it spoiling and remove at night to deter other unwanted guests. Place the feeder in a sheltered spot if possible, but out of reach of predators including local cats. Make sure that you provide water in these hot months and offer nest boxes to make birds feel at home in your garden.
Bright colours are also appealing to birds as they are indicative of a healthy mate, ripe fruit and flowers full of nectar. Hummingbirds go for warm colours (red, pink and orange), goldfinches and warblers like yellow, while cooler blue shades appeal to jays and camouflage colours (green, grey, brown) are comforting to more nervous breeds. Avoid white if you want birds in your garden as they see it as a warning sign. You can add colour to your garden through flowers, decorative items, fence paint, benches, pots, and your bird feeder or bath.
Written by: Lucy Ellis
Photo credit: Kenneth Hagemeyer, Bird Feeder 2 copy, via https://www.flickr.com/photos/azparrot/6663829403/in/photostream/