Feeding Wild Native Irish Birds

Natural food source for wild birds has lessened over the years because of agricultural changes and an increase in urbanisation. With winter right around the corner it is important to feed our native wild Irish birds. Natural food sources for these birds during winter is hard to come across, putting out bird food will provide birds with a food source and invite them into your garden.

According to bird conservation organisations like Birdwatch Ireland and the RSPB,  it’s a good idea to feed your garden birds throughout the year, but it’s especially important to do so over the coldest, darkest months of winter. Birds become dependent on a food source epically during winter.

Native Irish birds

We have a number of birds native to Ireland, some of these include:

  • Robin
  • Goldfinch
  • Bullfinch
  • Blue Tit
  • Chaffinches
  • Greenfinch

The best feed for birds during winter

Feeds high in energy are best to feed birds during the winter. Energy balls  and suet cakes are high in calories and this gives birds lots of energy.

Blue Tit eating an energyball. Image source: kjozsef from Pixabay
Blue Tit eating an energyball. Image source: kjozsef from Pixabay

Leaving out different types of bird food attracts different birds into the garden. In our CountryLife stores we stock a wide variety of bird food.

Sunflower seeds

Sunflower seeds are high in natural oils, high in protein, minerals and other vitamins that birds need to keep their energy levels up.

There are two different types of sunflower seeds

  1. Sunflower Hearts
  2. Black Sunflower Seeds
Goldfinch enjoying black sunflower seeds. Image source: splongo
Goldfinch enjoying black sunflower seeds. Image source: splongo

Chaffinches favour sunflower hearts  and Greenfinches favour black sunflower seeds. These seeds can be feed a variety of different ways including on a bird table or in a wired bird feeder.


Chaffinches. Image source: SnottyBoggins from Pixabay
Chaffinches. Image source: SnottyBoggins from Pixabay

Peanuts are high in fat and protein and are a good energy source for birds during winter. This type of food is favoured by Great Tit but will also attract wild birds such as Robins, Blue Tits and Goldfinches.

Great Titis enjoying some peanuts. Image source: Ria Algra fro
Great Titis enjoying some peanuts. Image source: Ria Algra fro

Using a wired peanut hanging feeder is the best way to leave out peanuts for birds to eat. The holes in the wire mesh are too small for the birds to take the peanuts out whole. This way it makes the birds peck at the peanuts and break them down into smaller pieces.

Nyjer Seeds

Nyjer seed is high in oil and protein content. It’s a high energy food that will keep the birds coming back day in day out. Goldfinch and Blue Tits particular favour this type of seed.

The seeds are a small size which ensures no birds will choke on the seed. This particular seed can be used with any Nyjer bird feeder or feed table.


Mealworms are 100% natural making them the closest food to a bird’s natural diet and one of the most popular meals for small birds. Mealworms are high in energy and protein and ensure birds have the energy and protein they need to survive all year round.

Mealworms are favoured by Robins, Blue Tits and Great Tits along with other wild birds.

Robin going to enjoy some mealworm. Image source: Bluebudgie from Pixabay
Robin going to enjoy some mealworm. Image source: Bluebudgie from Pixabay

The Peckish mealworm can also be soaked in water in order to rehydrate the mealworm and make it easier for younger birds to feed and softens the worms for feeding to the chicks.

Mealworms can be used in any garden feeder, hanging feeder or feeding table.

Operation WildNation

CountryLife Garden Centres want to educate the nation about wild bird conservation through our exciting and engaging new Operation WildNation initiative.

Ultimately we want to help protect some of our under threat wild bird species – among these thrushes and finches – during the tough autumn and winter months. We’ve teamed up with renowned environmentalist, author and broadcaster, Éanna Ni Lamhna, with the aim of engaging thousands of primary school children country- wide on the importance of looking after nature’s wildlife.

The Launch of Operation WildNation

The campaign includes an exciting Operation WildNation colouring competition focusing on children from first to third class. Templates and full competition details are available here: www.countrylife.ie/colourmewild.

The winning child or school will receive an interactive talk with Éanna and an expert horticulturalist from their local CountryLife Garden Centre. The prize also includes a fun peanut butter and seed roll-making session as well as vouchers, a wild bird survival kit for the school and more.

Click here to find out more about Operation WildNation.   

We’re here to help

If you need any help with deciding which bird food to feed or have any questions about birds, talk to any of our horticulturists in store. We’d love to help. Shop our wide range of bird food and accessories online.