What do robins eat?

Robin eating seed (northeastwildlife.co.uk)
Robins love munching on nuts, seeds and mealworms (Photo: northeastwildlife.co.uk)

Hands up, who loves a cheeky robin redbreast? Us too!

They live in woodland and our gardens, gobble up worms and sing late into the night, but what’s the best way to attract these cheery little songbirds? Feed them, of course!

What do robins eat?

A robin’s favourite foods are insects (especially beetles!) and worms, so keep your eyes peeled for our feathery friends next time you’re in the woods or your garden – especially if you’re digging in the soil. They’ll follow you about and snap up any tasty titbits you unearth.

Robins also feast on fruit, seeds, suet, crushed peanuts, sunflower hearts, raisins and small amounts of grated mild cheese – yum! But their favourite snacks are mealworms.

How to feed robins

Putting food out and waiting to see which birds stop by for their tea is always so much fun. But not all birds eat the same food, or in the same way.

Here are the three best ways to attract robins –and other birds – to your garden.

Ground feeding tray

Robins are natural ground feeders, so feeding trays are ideal. Make a mixture of bird seed, sunflower hearts, small amounts of cheese and mealworms, sprinkle it on the tray and wait for the robins to arrive.

They’re particularly greedy for mealworms, whether live or dried. You can soak the dried ones in water, which helps the birds get some valuable moisture from their food.

Bird tables

Like ground feeding trays, bird tables give robins an easy place to eat their dinner.

Provide some yummy mealworms and fruit, and watch them tuck in. You can also have a go at making your own homemade bird cake or food bars using melted suet or lard. Just pour it into a mixture of seed, raisins and nuts, let it cool and place it onto the table.

Of course, you can leave food on an open bird table, but make sure you get rid of it if it gets wet. Soggy food can be home to mould and bacteria, and make birds very poorly. Covered bird tables are best, as their roofs help keep everything dry, protect smaller birds from predators, and can make it harder for wood pigeons to snaffle all the food!

Hanging feeders

Lots of garden birds, like blue tits, house sparrows and goldfinches, will happily grab a bite to eat from seed feeders. Hang them up and fill them with peanuts, nyjer seed and other high quality food, and watch the birds flock to your garden.

Yet robins are unlikely to visit hanging feeders, unless they have a platform perch they can sit on. Now and then they’ll hold onto the feeder’s thin little perches or hover next to it and snatch a few seeds, but they prefer to eat from a flat surface, like a bird table or the ground.

Any other tips?

Don’t forget to always provide fresh water for birds to drink and bathe in. And remember – no matter which birds you’re feeding, never put out milk as it can make them really ill.

It’s always best to avoid leaving bread out for birds. While it fills them up, it doesn’t provide the right sort of nutrients or energy they need each day. This is really bad in winter as birds need lots of good quality food to help them keep warm.

Have you encouraged robins to your garden? We'd love to hear about them, tell us in the comments below.

Help robins and other wildlife

Woodland Trust family membership welcome box

If you and your kids enjoy learning about wildlife, you'll love Woodland Trust family membership. We send our members awesome Nature Detectives activity packs every season, bursting with wildlife spotting, crafts and puzzles. Plus, when you join you'll receive a welcome box full of goodies to get you started, including a guide to all our woods and a pocket-sized leaf ID book - perfect for identifying trees when you're out and about.

Family membership starts at £5 per month and your donation helps us plant trees and protect woods across the UK, benefiting people, wildlife and the planet. Find out more about family membership.

Have any robins visited your garden?

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