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We have a bird feeder in the garden and fail to attract Blue Tits. Which food should we put in there?

5

It looks like the problem might not be the types of food, but the feeder itself.

In the past blue tits had a monopoly on the relatively tricky kind of feeders people put out. The tiny birds were uniquely able to feed from upside coconut shells full of fat, or perch on strings of monkey nuts. They were also the bird most likely to steal the cream from milk bottles, that used to be left on the doorstep.

However in recent times people has switched to larger bird feeders that a variety of birds are able to use, most of which are bigger than the blue tit. At the same time old fashioned feeders like monkey nuts and coconut shells are no longer used, and milk comes in plastic bottles that are kept in the fridge.

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For foods they like,

They eat mixed bird seed and peanuts from hanging feeders, as well as suet pellets and suet balls.

Source

Attract Blue Tits with Peanuts, Sunflower Hearts and Black Sunflowers and any mixes that contain Peanut Granules or Sunflower Hearts in hanging feeders. They also love Suet which is high energy and a good winter food for these small birds.

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2

Charlie Brumbaugh is correct in his recommendations.

In addition, I've found sources indicating that blue tits like certain live animals in their diet, including insects, caterpillars, mealworms and waxworms. These are most important during breeding season, as they're high in protein which is helpful for hatchlings and young birds. Since the mother feeds the young before herself, she'll often choose those first, then return to the feeders for the larger seeds, suets and nuts which are her staple diet.

If you do choose to feed mealworms, it's very important to make sure they're fresh. Any dead or discoloured ones must not be used as they can cause problems such as salmonella poisoning. Source

Although peanuts are mentioned at every source I found, there are some very important things to know before feeding them. It's essential to choose both the right peanuts, and the proper feeding method.

Peanuts are rich in fat and are popular with tits, greenfinches, house sparrows, nuthatches, great spotted woodpeckers and siskins. Crushed or grated nuts attract robins, dunnocks and even wrens. Nuthatches and coal tits may hoard peanuts.

Salted or dry roasted peanuts should not be used. Peanuts can be high in a natural toxin, which can kill birds, so buy from a reputable dealer, to guarantee freedom from aflatoxin. Source

It's also extremely important to crush peanuts. More than one source said that mother birds may grab peanuts whole and try to stuff them down the throats of their young, choking them in the process.

A word of warning- ensure peanuts cannot be taken whole during the nesting season as adults may try to feed them to their small youngsters with potentially tragic results. Source

Here's a recommended method for feeding peanuts:

Put whole peanuts in a good quality metal mesh feeder with a maximum port size of 6mm. This ensures only small particles are taken, particularly important during the breeding season preventing naïve adults from forcing whole peanuts into their chick’s throats. Do not use nylon nets as these can tangle in the birds’ feet. Scatter a few peanuts for our ground feeding friends. When: Keep the feeder topped up year round. Source

Here's a fun fact!

Great tits change the shape of their beaks according to the feeding season? In summer, great tits prefer a soft, insect-based diet – which doesn't require much chewing – but in the winter, when their diet becomes predominately seed-based, their bills become thicker, shorter and stronger to cope with cracking the seeds.

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