How to choose bird food for small garden birds

How to choose bird food for small garden birds
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There is so much information online about bird food that it can feel quite overwhelming. That is certainly how I felt when I first started feeding my garden birds. I didn’t know anything about feeding them when I started out and the last few years have been trial and error, research and development and now to blending my own successful food range.

I started Garden Crowd for the Small Garden Birds. Not the pigeons, magpies, crows or the occasional pheasant. I wanted to create a bird food range that really met the nutritional needs of the small birds, they don’t eat the same things as larger birds, yet loads of bird food is full of it.

Take a look at the bird food in your house and check the packet, I bet the list includes things like Wheat, Maize, Dari and even split peas in some cases. This stuff is all filler and is only useful to larger birds, the small garden birds don’t eat it. If you are wanting to attract big birds as well then keep using your food, otherwise, choose a blend that doesn’t have these items in it.

The bird food I blend is made using only nutritional, natural ingredients from UK farms and it has been made with small birds in mind. I have spent a number of years trying the different food on my own birds and seeing what they eat and what they don’t, and only until I really thought I had cracked it did I start the Garden Crowd.

We are now a lot further down the line and our food is being used in lots of gardens around the UK and being loved by our customers, but what exactly is in our food and why?

Our food is different depending on the blend you choose, but here are some of the seeds and ingredients we use and why.


Sunflower hearts are in a lot of our mixes, they are loved by small birds including Soft-bills because they don’t have the outer shell. They are also great for serving up and not getting any shells on the ground. Our mixes include a whole sunflower heart from a UK farm and you can really see the difference from the cheaper brands that used kibbled.

Our Spring & Summer mix features whole sunflower seeds

Sunflower hearts are a fantastic source of vitamins to small garden birds they have a rich source of oil, protein and energy and can be fed throughout the year including in the summer.


Safflower is a fantastic seed for small garden birds, it’s similar to sunflower hearts and provides a high proportion of protein, fat and fiber that can be super nutritious to a range of different birds.

The seeds are also husk free and don’t cause a mess. They are particularly loved by blue tits, nuthatches and even blackbirds. Squirrels also don’t like eating safflower so it can be a great option when trying to deter them from your mixes.


Pinhead Oatmeal features in a lot of our mixes, especially the Nest and Fledgling mix. It is an excellent source of carbohydrates and fats for birds. It also has not husks and produces no mess and it is loved by soft-billed birds like Robins too.

There is lots of proteins and oils in Oatmeal, some cheaper bird food uses Maize as a filler but Oatmeal is a much better quality product for small garden birds.


Hempseeds are not often found in other bird food, mainly because of their price but we use them in our Spring & Summer mixes, Nest and Fledgling and our Blue tit mixes.

Hemp Seed is a fantastic energy source, it is rich in oil and protein and is high in fat, carbohydrate and essential fatty and amino acids. It has very good weight gaining properties for garden birds and is ideal for feeding during the breeding season.


You may eat Linseeds yourself, they are often found in health food stores. Linseeds have oils that contain vitamins A, B, D and E, minerals and amino acids. They are a valuable source of essential fatty acids which can help prevent the build-up of fatty deposits in the tissues.

Our Autumn & Winter mix features Linseeds as they are particularly great in the Winter months when the weather is cold and the sun isn’t shining. The extra boost in vitamins will really help your small garden birds.


Kibbled Peanuts are a nutritious snack for a variety of wildlife and are the closest food to a bird’s natural diet. Birds love Kibbled Peanuts and they offer them great nutritional value, with lots of oils, fats and carbs. They are particularly loved by Tits and feature in our Blue Tit bird food.


Suet is not created equal. If you follow us on Instagram you’ll hear me shouting about this all the time. There are lots of suets out there that are colourless, but unfortunately not odourless and have not nutritional value to them at all.

our Robin & Friends mix featuring two types of suet

The suet we use smells like the ingredients in it. We have a mealworm and nut suet that smells like peanuts and it’s made using Quinoa and Peanut flour. We also have a Berry suet that has real Blackcurrant juice and peanut flour. Our suet is sourced from a quality supplier and has a high-content of beef fat.

The beef levels in the suet really make a difference, if you are adding a suet with hardly any fat in the mix then it is not really helping the birds. It is a bit like with humans, a Big Mac will not fill you up as much as a good quality grass-fed rib eye steak.

It is important to choose bird food that doesn’t have lots of fillers. What do we class as fillers?

    • Dari
    • Wheat
    • Maize
    • Cracked Corn
  • Split Peas

You might think it is cheaper, but actually the birds need to eat twice as much because they are not getting nutrition from it and a lot of the food will fall to the floor because the small garden birds discard what is not needed. You will also find with filler foods that it attracts larger birds that eat it all anyway.

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