Winter is coming and as it does the amount of food available to our feathered friends begins to diminish. With just a tiny bit of time and a smidge of effort you can make your own bird food and lend the birds a helping hand until spring has sprung once again.
Okay, so some things are pretty obvious. Birds love nuts, seeds and grain, anything with a high oil content and without very much, if any processing will be perfect for them.
If you’re just looking for items to put on your shopping list and fill your bird-feeder then try a mix of unsalted peanuts and black sunflower seeds. The peanuts are chock full of natural oils which are fantastic for birds and the seeds will attract mainly songbirds and dissuade pests.
If, like me, you’re more interested in getting your hands a bit dirty then why not create your own feeding cakes?
Mix bird-seed with melted suet or lard, allow it to set and then either leave on a bird table or hang within easy reach of the birds. The fat makes a fantastic supplement to birds’ diet in the winter months and will help to create resilient and glossy plumage.
Make sure any peanuts you use are unsalted and not dry roasted, just because you love them doesn’t mean the birds will! Also, peanuts can be very high in natural toxins so ensure that any you’re buying are of good quality.
When it comes to grains and cereals, check that they’re dry and only ever put small quantities out into your garden at any one time. Make sure that there’s a birdbath or some supply of water nearby and they’ll love you for it!
If you’re thinking of putting out oats, do not cook them. Oatmeal can harden around a bird’s beak and potentially kill them.
When buying mixed birdseed be very careful, any with yellow or red bits could well contain dog or cat biscuits as filler. Also, avoid any mixes which contain dried lentils, beans or dried rice as smaller birds can’t eat these.
If you loved my fat-cake idea (and why wouldn’t you) but don’t want to get mucky, then feel free to use the store-bought alternatives. The wire mesh should be removed before putting them out in the garden however, as smaller birds can get caught up and hurt themselves.
When it comes to getting rid of a mouldy loaf, be very careful. Most forms of mould are completely harmless to most species’ of birds, but some may cause respiratory infections which can be fatal. Better to just avoid this altogether and keep to your seeds and nuts!
They’re only little…
Birds are fragile creatures and a lot of the things you do in the attempt to help them out may actually cause more harm than good. So be cautious and really think about what you’re doing, there’s nothing quite like watching the birds munching on your very own birdfood from the warmth of your own home but make sure it isn’t coming at a cost.
Lastly, I was relieved to discover while writing this blog, that pigeons’ stomachs do not explode if they’re fed dried rice. In fact, pigeons are some of the few species’ who actually love dried rice!
Another urban legend smashed.
Any tips and tricks for keeping the birds happy? Let us know, all knowledge is good knowledge!
Matt is an easily excitable writer known for collecting random facts and disgorging them on the unwitting and often unwilling. He’s spent time writing for travel companies and is now lending his talents to all things to do with gardening, DIY and wildlife, blogging for Capital Gardens.