Do blackbirds visit your garden? These members of the thrush family are one of our most familiar birds and their melodic song is a defining feature of the dawn chorus. But what do blackbirds eat and how can you feed them? Read on to find out.
What do blackbirds eat?
The blackbird is an omnivore, eating both plant and animal matter. Its typical diet includes:
Insects like caterpillars and beetles
Insects and other invertebrates dominate the diet in spring and summer, while berries and seeds are more important in autumn and winter. When hunting, blackbirds mainly forage on the ground. They will ruffle through the undergrowth turning over fallen leaves in search of prey. When looking for worms, blackbirds rely on keen eyesight and hearing. They are able to spot a worm’s tail sticking out of the soil and can even hear worms when they move under the surface.
What to feed blackbirds
There are plenty of options when it comes to feeding blackbirds:
Fat balls and other fat-based food bars (remove any nylon netting first)
Dog food (a good substitute for mealworms)
Blackbirds are too large to access most hanging bird feeders. To attract them to your garden, it's best to put out food on a bird table or scatter it on the ground.
Foods to avoid
Certain foods should always be avoided when feeding birds, as they may have a damaging impact on their health:
Seed mixtures containing split peas, beans or lentils. Small birds cannot eat dry foodstuffs like these.
Leftover fat from cooking
Polyunsaturated margarines or vegetable oils. Soft fats can destroy the waterproofing and insulating properties of feathers.
Dry biscuits as birds may choke on the hard lumps.
Milk. A bird's gut is not designed to digest milk and can cause stomach upsets.
Desiccated coconut. This can swell up in a bird’s stomach.
Mouldy food. Some moulds can cause respiratory infections.
Stale food. This can provide a breeding ground for salmonella bacteria, which can cause food poisoning.