Below, we share some garden-bird-friendly Christmas dinner ideas and tips on what to feed your garden birds from your leftovers alongside their nutritious bird food. And we also talk about some Christmas dinner foods you shouldn’t be offering them.
What you can feed birds from your Christmas dinner leftovers
Because birds eat many of the things we eat (nuts, fruit, seeds and grains), there’s a common misconception that most of our leftovers will also be suitable for them. But bird beaks and daily diets vary a lot from ours. For this reason, you should be careful when considering what to put out for them.
Fruit cake and Christmas pudding
Fruits are full of energy-boosting natural sugars and calories that birds love, so Christmas cake and pudding are excellent foods to put out for your birds. Likewise, raisins, currants, sultanas & suet make for a delicious and nutritious treat. When leaving these leftovers, mash them first so birds can quickly and easily peck away at them.
Birds love cheese, which is good for them when given in small amounts. Since cheese is full of fat and calcium, your garden birds will be delighted to see this left out, so keep your cheeseboard leftovers! Mild cheddar cheeses and even a Wensleydale (our favourite!) will be well received. And like with fruit cake and pudding, be sure to break the cheese into small pieces so they can eat it safely and enjoy it.
Who doesn’t love a Christmas roastie? We may all have different ways of making them, but your garden birds won’t mind! Make sure to chop them into more manageable chunks so bird beaks, big and small, can enjoy them. Also, since potato is full of fat and carbohydrates, they will keep your birds fuller for longer.
What you shouldn’t feed birds from your Christmas dinner leftovers
Although we hate to see food go to waste, the following leftovers shouldn’t be shared with garden birds. Please keep reading for advice on foods that won’t do birds any favours and may even damage their health.
Meats like bacon and chicken can have bits of fat you might think birds can eat, but we advise against providing these. Other parts of these meats are not so good for birds (like high salt levels) and can cause choking hazards. Instead, use the last of your Christmas meats on a Christmas sandwich – which brings us to our next piece of advice!
Bread offers little nutritional benefit for birds. It can also cause digestive issues, so don’t be tempted to even leave small amounts of bread out. Consider using any leftover or stale bread as breadcrumbs for other tasty bakes for you and your family instead!
Leftover fat like beef dripping from cooking may seem like a great idea, as birds need fat to gain weight in winter. But this is entirely the wrong fat to give them, and you should not leave it out for them to consider. Instead, opt for suet cakes and fat balls to help your birds gain weight and stay warm this winter.
Unfortunately, birds won’t eat up all those leftover Brussels sprouts, but some other visitors you may not want will! Leaving out vegetables can attract unwanted attention, and birds are unlikely even to eat them since it’s not a natural food source for them.
Of course, if you don't want to feed birds Christmas dinner, you can top up your Christmas day bird buffet with all the regular things birds enjoy – such as fatty seeds like peanuts and niger, and filler-free winter-specific mixes.