What Not to feed Garden Birds
Many garden birds will struggle to find enough food this winter. You can help them to survive by providing good sources of nutrition. You will find the that you need right here at Little Peckers. You might also wish to offer your feathered visitors some leftovers. But take care to choose the right foods.
There will probably be plenty of nutritious treats hanging around your kitchen. Many of these are suitable for the birds but there are some foods which will do your visitors more harm than good. Here are the foods which should stay in your cupboard or fridge!
Garden birds are unable to metabolise salt. It is toxic to them in high quantities and can impact their nervous system. You should never offer the bird foods which contain salt. This includes cured and processed meats. Even bacon rind can be high in salt. However, the fat from unsalted meat is a great choice and the birds will love it.
Whilst lard and other meat fats are good sources of energy for wild birds, polyunsaturated fats like margarine and vegetable oil will not give them the energy that they need.
You will often be left with some cooking fat in the pan after a Sunday roast but it is best not to give this to the birds. Meat juices will have run into this fat making it sticky and this gloopy material is bad for feathers. In addition, bacteria prosper in cooking fat and so it should be consigned to the bin.
Bread isn’t harmful to birds but it does not contain the protein and fat that they need. As bread’s nutritional value is so low, it should only be offered in small quantities. An excess of bread will fill empty stomachs making the birds think that they have eaten enough. The birds will then suffer from vitamin deficiencies or even starve. If you have some dry bread to leave out, moisten it in water first to make it more digestible.
Uncooked Split Peas, Dried Beans, Rice and Lentils
These foods are extremely dry and can only be digested by larger species. However, cooked rice is a good option and will be enjoyed by many birds. Avoid poor quality bird mixes as these can feature split peas and lentils.
Cat and Dog Food
Small birds will not be able to digest cat or dog biscuits but wet foods are a nutritious choice. If your pooch or moggy has turned its nose up at their meal then the garden birds could be in for a feast.
Don’t feed cooked porridge oats to the birds and this food will quickly harden around beaks and prevent the birds from eating and drinking. Uncooked oats are fine as are most other breakfast cereals but these should be fed in moderation as they will contain salt.
You may have seen many endearing pictures of blue tits pecking at milk bottles but you should never offer milk to any bird. A bird's gut is not designed to digest it and so drinking milk can result in serious stomach upsets.
Whatever food you offer to the garden birds, make sure that it is fresh. Stale and mouldy food certainly won’t help the birds and could lead to serious health issues.