Should I feed garden birds all year?



coal tit fledgling

You really should feed garden birds all year. We now know that birds really struggle to find enough food throughout the year – not just during winter. One of the most challenging times of year is now – May and June – as young birds are hatching and their parents are trying to find food for them.

Recent research from the RSPB shows that birds’ natural foodsources are increasingly ‘mismatched’ with their breeding season. This means that many baby birds are hatching after the peak of the caterpillar season. Caterpillars are a main food source for baby birds, so this has a huge impact on the amount of available food. To give you an idea, a baby blue tit eats about 100 caterpillars a day. With ten chicks in a nest, that’s 1000 caterpillars every day. Mum and Dad need to work very hard to manage this! Fledglings need a lot of food!

If these caterpillars aren’t available in the numbers needed, chicks starve to death.

As well as this, research shows that modern farming techniques are reducing the amount of suitable habitat for wildlife, and this has a direct impact on our garden birds. Birds rely on their surroundings for food: this might be caterpillars, berries, seeds, worms… but all of these things rely on there being a suitable habitat.

Create a space for wildlife

Roses on wall

Worms, insects and grubs need hidden corners, shady spaces and food sources to thrive. Old cobwebs deep in the corners of old sash windows offer a banquet for blue tits, who can hang acrobatically on the edges and pick out the hidden insects. Smooth, clean, modern uPVC windows offer fewer possibilities for them. Similarly, house martens and swallows need suitable eaves and corners to nest in, which modern buildings often fail to provide.

Beautifully groomed lawns, unblemished by weeds or moss, are also fairly unappealing for wildlife and don’t support many bugs and beasties. No bugs and beasties means no birds, so we need to do a little bit to help them out.

Our range of wild bird foods are specially selected to be high in nutritional value, so birds expend the least amount of energy for maximum nutritional gain. We’re always happy to advise on the most suitable product for your birds. Call into our Dumfries shop to see our full range.

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Quick guide to choosing the best Wood Fuel for your stove and lifestyle.

Wood Fuel Co-operative

*Break - We strongly recommend you break these briquettes in half (or less for very small stoves) because they do expand whilst burning and you don't want them to overfill the fire.
*Easy to light - We always use a Firelighter and Kindling Sticks to start our fires. Most briquettes are graded four stars to light because they are quite dense and require kindling.


  • All stove and flue combinations tend to have different burning characteristics. Fuel that works well in my stove may not work so well in your stove, and vice-versa.
  • Most modern stoves are more efficient than most older stoves, meaning a modern quality stove will burn fuel more economically and generate more heat over a longer period.
  • Always try to burn fuel with a 'lick of flame'. Smouldering fuel to try to extend burn time is bad for your stove, flue and the environment due to unburned particulate matter in the smoke.
  • Be prepared to break briquettes into smaller sections to fit into your stove comfortably. Many briquettes do expand whilst burning and you don't want them to expand onto the glass.
  • The chart above indicates which briquettes are easy to break. Some are small enough so they don't need breaking. This makes for a cleaner environment around your stove.
  • All briquettes, except Everyday Value and Hotmax, benefit hugely from using kindling to light them. I suggest five kindling sticks will be sufficient, meaning a net should last 30 days.

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