Birds and bird feeding: guidance

Feeding birds in your garden is important for conserving bird species and is an enjoyable activity for many people.

The RSPB recommend that you feed birds all year round to give them the best chance of survival, and that you also provide a regular supply of clean water for birds to drink and bathe in.

For the best advice on best practice and appropriate food for feeding garden birds see the RPSB website.

Problems caused by excessive feeding

Careless or excessive bird feeding can attract mice and rats. This can:

  • cause noise and fouling problems for neighbours if larger birds such as crows and pigeons are attracted to the area
  • deter the smaller birds from feeding

To prevent careless or excessive feeding:

  • use a feeder and position it carefully so rodents cannot reach it
  • use a catch tray on your bird feeder so food does not fall onto the ground where rats and mice can access it
  • do not overstock bird tables as rodents can often reach them
  • do not dump unwanted food waste in your garden as birds are unlikely to eat it, but rats and mice will

Birds you should not feed

Red kites

Red kites have been successfully reintroduced into Buckinghamshire and can be seen in flight across the county, but you should not try to attract them and feed them in your garden or public places.

Red kites are scavengers and rarely have problems finding dead animals and scraps to feed on, so providing them with food is not necessary.

Feeding red kites may:

  • lead to the birds relying on human hand-outs
  • encourage them to steal food from people’s picnics, and even from their hands


Feeding feral pigeons in a public place like a town, or leaving leftover food for them to find, can cause problems, including:

  • health risks for humans from droppings, and disease and starvation in pigeons caused by large populations
  • digestive issues if fed the wrong type of food such as large pieces of bread
  • a reduction in the pigeon’s ability to find food for itself
  • damage to buildings, street furniture and pavements from droppings, and creating dangerous walking surfaces
  • larger rat populations sustaining themselves through food scraps

If you're experiencing problems with nuisance birds

Unless you’re acting under the conditions of a licence, it’s an offence to:

  • kill or injure any birds
  • destroy or remove bird nests or eggs

If you’re experiencing problems with nuisance birds, you should contact a specialist bird control company.

If a neighbour is feeding birds inappropriately and causing a problem

You should first of all try talking to your neighbour to resolve the issue. If appropriate, you can direct your neighbour to this webpage for advice and good practice on feeding birds.

If the problem leads to a pest infestation where the source can be pinpointed, you can report it to environmental health for further investigation – email [email protected].