Best Food For Robins

Sunflower Hearts

Robins love sunflower seeds, but the shell can sometimes defeat their small beaks. Opt for the hulled variety, known as sunflower hearts.

They are generally alright whole, but buying them kibbled, or crushing them into smaller pieces yourself, makes it easy for the birds to enjoy them.

And enjoy them they will. These kernels of nutty goodness are rich in the healthy fats and proteins robins crave.

During Winter, that high fat content is especially useful, and the protein is sought after during the mating season. These seeds are a year-round treat.

Sunflower hearts also contain vitamins A, B-6, and C, along with calcium, potassium, fiber, and iron.

They are a fantastic addition to a balanced diet. Serve them as part of a mix with other seeds, fruits, fats, and meal worms.

Limit the amount you place on your bird table to what you expect the birds to eat within 2 days. Due to their oil content, these seeds will go rancid when not stored properly.

Besides placing the hearts on a bird table or tray, it’s fine to load them into a mesh feeder, or to scatter them on the ground.

And don’t worry about sunflowers taking over your yard. Hulled seeds are less likely to pass through the robin intact, and it is infrequent that they germinate at all.

Nyjer Seeds

The sunflower isn’t the only yellow-petaled plant that produces seeds that make robins sing with joy. The African yellow daisy produces seeds known as nyjer seeds.

When shopping for these, be prepared to see multiple spellings of the name. Niger and Nyger® are two common variants.

You may have also heard them called by a different name: thistle seeds. This is misleading, as they have nothing to do with thistle plants.

An oilseed, the nyjer seed is high in fat. In fact, over a third of its nutrient content comes in the form of fat, followed by protein and fiber.

Yet these tiny seeds also manage to pack even more into their black shells. They contain a little sugar, along with niacin, oleic acid, and antioxidants.

Nyjer seeds make for a messy meal when they aren’t contained within a feeder. The seeds are so small and light, birds will scatter the majority of them off of a bird table or tray while eating.

Seeds knocked to the ground are not entirely wasted, particularly in the case of robins, which are ground feeders. But, a nyjer feeder is a worthwhile investment to avoid waste, if you plan to use this pricey feed regularly.

Raisins

Most birds are crazy about the sticky sweet morsels that are raisins, and robins are no exception.

The result of drying grapes, raisins are filled with the same nutrients present in their more hydrated state. Prime among them is sugar, which provides robins with the readily available energy that feeds their high metabolism.

Besides the sweet stuff, raisins are also a great source of potassium and fiber, along with smaller amounts of protein, calcium, and vitamins.

Fresh raisins tend to be soft enough for robins to peck into heartily. However, in the warmer months you should do your feathered friends a favor and soak the raisins in hot water to re-hydrate them before placing them out.

This makes them easier to consume, while also providing necessary fluids in the heat. Regardless of the time of year, very hard raisins should be soaked until they are reasonably soft.

Serve them up on a flat feeder, like your trusty tray or table, and the robins will thank you. Just make sure the location is out of reach of dogs and cats, as raisins are toxic to them, and could prove fatal if eaten.

Apple

An apple a day may keep the doctor away, but when it comes to robins, it’s a lure. It doesn’t seem to matter much which variety of apple you choose. So long as they’re served up right, birds will chow down on them.

Like most fruits, the bulk of an apple’s calories come from sugar. They’re also great sources of Vitamin C, and provide useful fiber.

Served fresh, they are also full of moisture. If you choose dried apples, soak them to maintain this benefit, while making them less of a task to eat.

To prepare whole apples, cut them into halves or slices, or chop them into even smaller pieces. Just make sure that the birds aren’t wasting time and energy dealing with the skin.

Also, keep in mind that overripe apples are preferable. The softer they are, the sweeter the flesh, and the simpler it is for little robins to peck out a beak-full.

If you’re using an apple feeder, peel the apple before you stick it onto the spike whole. Make sure the flesh is readily accessible.

Regardless of how you offer it up, apples can go bad quickly, becoming a sticky mush that attracts flies and other pests. Be sure to clean up leftovers after a day or so, to avoid this problem.

Peanuts

These fat-rich legumes are beloved by a wide variety of birds, and can be prepared in different ways to cater to each.

When it comes to robins, you should definitely start by ditching the shell. The next step is to crush the seed into smaller, beak friendly pieces.

You can buy kibbled peanuts to avoid the hassle of doing all this yourself. Just make sure that you buy an unsalted variety, as all that excess sodium is detrimental to robins.

Once prepped, you have a healthy feed. Peanuts are high in fat, fiber, potassium, iron, calcium, protein, magnesium — they are well suited to avian diets.

Unfortunately, squirrels are also crazy about peanuts, and will devour all that they can get their paws on. Don’t make it easy for them. Purchase a squirrel-proof feeder to ensure the feed remains available to the birds.

Peanuts can be expensive to offer on a regular basis. Drive the cost down by mixing them with cheaper seeds, like sunflower hearts.

Suet

This is the ultimate solution when it comes to fulfilling the flocks fat requirements. Suet is beef fat, or sometimes mutton fat, that can be rendered into a tallow that birds adore.

There are no additional nutritional benefits to suet. It is a healthy form of fat, with negligible iron and protein content.

Alone, it only provides for one of the robin’s dietary needs, but as a medium for combining other ingredients, suet allows you to make nutritionally complete cakes and bars.

Simply heat it until it melts into a liquid state, then add in seeds, nuts, dried fruit, and even insects in whatever combination you like. Then cool it in molds (ice trays yield great results) of your desired shape and size, and you’ve made your own bird nutrition bars.

Suet is good any time of year, though it is most needed during the fall and winter when robins depend more on their fat reserves.

Otherwise, you shouldn’t put it out on very hot days, because it can melt in a mess that simply attracts pest. It can also go rancid if kept in high heat conditions too long.

You can find a variety of suet feeders, and this is another case where you should opt for a squirrel-proof model.

Maize

When it comes to the sweet treat of golden maize, robins have the advantage over humans because they can enjoy the kernels whether cooked or raw.

In either form, maize is a great source of carbohydrates, thanks to its high starch content. It also contains useful amounts of fiber, sugar, potassium, and iron.

Additionally, cooked maize is plump with water, making it a source of fluids for a thirsty bird. Just make sure that the kernels were cooked with no added spices or salt.

Raw kibbled maize has its own advantages for robins. Whole kernels, even when cooked, can be too large for small birds to swallow whole, and unwieldy to break apart or get into.

Kibbled maize is broken down into smaller pieces, posing little challenge for robins to eat and to digest. It is also less of a target for squirrels when scattered on the ground.

Maize is one of the more inexpensive feeds, so it is a good choice for a healthy, high energy filler to mix in with the other, pricier options. It is versatile, and can be offered up on trays, in feeders, or as part of a suet mix.

Oatmeal

Robins will happily peck away at oatmeal, but it is important to only serve it to them raw. Cooked oatmeal eventually hardens to rock-like consistency. If it hardens on a bird’s beak it could suffocate them, or cause them to starve.

Even raw, there are further considerations. Of the three varieties of oats, you should prioritize instant and rolled oats. They have been processed, and are a less troublesome dish for robins.

Pinhead oats can be used as well, however, and robins will eat them. But, they are more inflexible, and will take longer to digest.

Oatmeal is as healthy for birds as it is for humans, though it has a very high iron content which can be dangerous for birds if they eat too much of it.

Otherwise, it is also high in fiber, vitamins A and B-6, magnesium, and calcium. It even contains a small amount of healthy fats.

It is perfectly acceptable to strew oatmeal in the grass, as robins will diligently hunt for the tasty groats. But, consider adding them to a suet mix to add fat and other missing nutrients to the meal.

Potatoes

Potatoes are a food that birds prefer cooked. Baked or boiled, roasted or mashed, cooked spuds will surely have robin red breast singing your praises. But, don’t offer fried potatoes on the menu, and definitely avoid serving them raw.

Fried potatoes have unhealthy levels of fat and sodium. On the other hand, raw potatoes have far too much starch, and they contain enzymes that interfere with a bird’s digestion.

When properly prepared, however, potatoes provide an excellent energy boost via carbs. Their high water content provides hydration, and a little protein and fiber makes sure they are filling.

The skins just get in the way of this meal. If you are serving whole baked potatoes, cut them well open so that the birds can reach the soft interior.

However you cook them, make sure you let them cool completely before offering them up. Potato interiors can remain quiet hot, and can injure an unwary robin.

As with the other feed types, don’t add any salt to the potatoes when you cook them. If you want to liven up the flavor or the nutritional profile, sprinkle seeds over them instead.

Collect the peels and remnants regularly, to avoid attracting pests. Potato is great compost material, so feel free to add the leftovers to your compost heap.

Cheese

Cheese represents a special treat for birds. Dairy products are generally bad for our beaked buddies, but some fermented dairy products are actually safe.

Note that I said “some.” When feeding cheese to birds, stick to mild varieties, and avoid soft cheeses. Mild cheddar is a safe bet that robins will find scrumptious.

There are English cheeses that also fit the bill. Set the bird table with Wensleydale or Red Leicester for a locally sourced meal.

Cheese is another fat rich food, sure to keep a robin’s energy stores topped off. It also has a balanced offering of potassium, protein, sodium, and cobalamin, and a high dose of bone-and-beak-fortifying calcium.

Blocks, or even slices, of hard cheese pose too much of a hassle to little birds like the robin. To serve the cheese, first grate it down into small morsels.

Place it on a bird table or tray in limited amounts, and be sure to come back to clean up leftovers. Cheese left outside can begin to show mold in a relatively short time, posing a health hazard.

Keep in mind that cheese should be offered as an occasional treat, and should never make up the bulk of your feed.

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