Two things we shouldn’t feed wild birds in the garden, according to Springwatch presenter Iolo Williams

The Springwatch star shares his top tips for encouraging wildlife in your garden

Millions more of us have become green-fingered this year. For some, it’s the satisfying and therapeutic job of repotting plants, while others have become obsessed with the wild birds in their garden. 

Related: Wildlife garden ideas – 15 easy ways to turn your outdoor space into a haven for wildlife

If you’re anything like us, you’ve probably got a couple of bird feeders on the go. But according to Springwatch host Iolo Williams, we need to be careful with what we’re feeding them.

garden area with trees and small plants

(Image credit: Getty)

It’s wonderful to see our gardens welcoming more wildlife, but we certainly don’t want to cause more harm than good. As part of the Home For All campaign, Homebase partnered with Iolo Williams.

The Welsh naturalist shared his top tips for bird and wildlife care in our outdoor spaces. He points out that water is just as important as food for birds and other wildlife. ‘Water is essential for birds to clean their feathers as well as to drink,’ he says.

‘A small garden pond is ideal, but a bowl of water or even an upturned bin lid will suffice.'

bird drinking water

(Image credit: Getty)

Iolo also warns that milk can be harmful to wildlife. ‘Water is also important for mammals such as hedgehogs, whereas milk is very harmful and can cause diarrhoea and sickness.’

Provide the birds in your garden with a place to have a drink with B&Q's Glazed Black Bird Bath, £29.00.

‘Most people don’t realise that bread can be harmful for birds,’ Iolo continues. He explains that it offers very little nutrition and can fill up a bird’s stomach.

sparrow eating from small bucket filled with food

(Image credit: Getty)

Instead, you should put out a variety of high-energy foods, such as fat balls, peanuts, mixed seeds, and sunflower hearts. These are all available at Homebase.

For more garden ideas, take a look at our dedicated page. If you're working with a compact space, our 42 small garden ideas has plenty of tips.

Related: Brilliant budget garden ideas – boost your outdoor space without breaking the bank!

Some bird species in the UK have declined by 95% since 1970. While over half of us want to help, we don’t know how to, according to Homebase research.

For more tips, head to Homebase’s online content hub, Birdbase. You can also take a look at our guide on how to make a bee hotel.

Whether you have a vast garden, or just some window boxes, if we all undertake small, simple actions, we can have a big impact on the declining bird population and biodiversity.

Millie Hurst
Senior Content Editor

Millie Hurst was Senior Content Editor at Ideal Home from 2020-2022, and is now Section Editor at Homes & Gardens. Before stepping into the world of interiors, she worked as a Senior SEO Editor for News UK in both London and New York. You can usually find her looking up trending terms and finding real-life budget makeovers our readers love. Millie came up with the website's daily dupes article which gives readers ways to curate a stylish home for less.