Don’t Kill Your Garden Birds with Kindness
With more than half of all households in the UK now providing food for garden birds, we are clearly a nation of bird lovers. Feeding the birds helps them to survive harsh winters and enables you to see a wonderful variety of species in your own garden. But you must be careful to offer the right food and in the right way, otherwise you could kill or injure wild birds rather than help them.
Here’s the three things you shouldn’t do if you want to take care of the birds.
Don’t Present Fat Balls in Netting
are a wonderful source of energy for birds. These balls of fat usually feature seeds and insects and so provide a highly nutritious meal for many species. The birds love them too! But you should never present suet fat balls in the netting in which they are often supplied. The netting looks convenient to hang. However, it can end up trapping birds’ feet or beaks. This can lead to injury or even death.
Fat balls are best removed from any nets and placed in a bespoke feeder or left loose on bird
tables for the birds to feast on.
Be Careful with Human Food
It might seem like a great idea to feed your garden birds with your leftover scraps. But human food can be problematic for birds. Certainly, cooking fat from the roast including your Christmas turkey, is potentially dangerous. The fat mixes with meat juices during cooking and forms a runny, sticky material. This may then stick to feathers and stop them from remaining waterproof. In addition, this gloopy material is often loaded with salt, which is toxic to birds.
Other foods to be avoided include desiccated coconut as this may swell once inside a bird and cause death. Cooked porridge oats or milk should not be provided as these foods may damage a bird’s gut.
Don’t Provide Too Much Food for Birds
Uneaten food will eventually turn mouldy. Some types of mould are relatively harmless but others are dangerous and could lead to respiratory infections in birds. If you find food that has been lying around for so long that it has turned mouldy, you are probably putting out too much for the birds to eat. Try moderating your portions and keep an eye on what happens!
You should always remove any stale food quickly as bacteria will soon start to breed and parasites will be attracted to the rotting material. Keep your bird tables, feeders and surrounding areas clean at all times. Wash feeders regularly, ideally using a 5% disinfectant solution. Move any feeding stations to a new area every month to prevent the droppings accumulating beneath them.
A few simple measures will ensure that you help the birds rather than injure or poison them. The visitors to your garden may be depending on you for their health and survival and it is easy to make a big difference to their lives.