How we can help you feed wild birds

Although winter feeding benefits birds most, food shortages can occur at any time of the year. By feeding the birds year round, you'll give them a better chance to survive the periods of food shortage whenever they may occur, says advice from the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB).

In autumn and winter, put out food and water on a regular basis. In severe weather, feed twice daily if you can: in the morning and in the early afternoon.

Birds require high energy (high fat) foods during the cold winter weather to maintain their fat reserves to survive the frosty nights. Use only good quality food and scraps.

Never allow uneaten foods to accumulate around the feeders. Once you establish a feeding routine, try not to change it as the birds will become used to it and time their visits to your garden accordingly.

In spring and summer, feed only selected foods. Good hygiene is vital, or feeding may do more harm than good. During the summer months, birds require high protein foods, especially while they are moulting.

Black sunflower seeds, pinhead oatmeal, soaked sultanas, raisins and currants, mild grated cheese, mealworms, waxworms, mixes for insectivorous birds, good seed mixtures without loose peanuts, and summer seed mixture are all good foods to provide.

Avoid using peanuts, fat and bread at this time, since these can be harmful if adult birds feed them to their nestlings

Commercially produced fat bars are suitable for summer feeding but discard any remains after three weeks.

It is best not to put out food that is likely to create problems during the breeding season. Therefore, never put out loose peanuts, dry hard foods, large chunks of bread, or fats during the spring or summer months.