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Food for the Birds?


I have been trying to support our little population of wild birds with seeds and nuts (peanuts ground up in the food processor)

I wondered if some of our members have any other suggestions for the bird tables?

I have been cooking up the vegetable peelings and adding any other scraps and left-overs. I know there is a risk of attracting our little rodent friends but so be it. I try to avoid meat. Cold cooked chips are popular! Also apples of course.

I am making a birds’ xmas cake to leave for them when we go to Luxembourg on Thursday. I added raisins, oats, seeds, bread, some cooked sausages I found in the freezer, and mixed it all up with some melted lard.

I shall raid the freezer again tonight to see if I can find any more bits and pieces.

I would appreciate advice from other members re good practice re feeding the birds. I realise they need fat for energy and therefore plain bread isnt much good.

They seem to prefer some fat balls to others – the latest ones have been there for ages!

So folks, give me the benefit of your advice, please, about what to do and not to do when feeding the birds!

Happy Christmas! :)

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Happy Christmas, Rachelsmum...
Good to know you're helping the garden birds :o)

20 Dec, 2010


I do my best too Rachelsmum but I shall be very interested in the replies as I feel I could do with some guidance. Your bird pudding looks good, I'm sure the birds will love it. I agree about the fat balls, I've recently bought a big tub of them but the birds are not so keen and only go for them when there's nothing else!

20 Dec, 2010


Porridge oats is good robins,wagtails,blackbirds they love'm
I feed lots of seeds,peanut etc put they eat me out of house & home but it's nice to see the wild life but the birds make a bee line to our garden 200/250 today cold/ snow brings them in

20 Dec, 2010


It's nice to help wildlife. I hope the birds enjoy their specially made Christmas cake :o)

20 Dec, 2010


If you Google the RSPB guide on feeding the birds in winter, there is some very good information to be found. I've been putting out uncooked porridge oats/grated cheese/sunflower hearts/chopped apple/ and the regular seed mix and peanuts. Another concern is the lack of drinking water. : o (((

20 Dec, 2010


I find that a lot of the seed in the mix gets ignored by all the birds, even the pigeons. I think it's corn or wheat and I'm growing a cornfield under the feeders! Do you mix all those other things in with the seed mix in feeders and/or on the ground Shirley? It's difficult with snow on the ground, do you clear an area. Yes water is very difficult as it freezes over again in no time at all, maybe birds eat snow instead?

20 Dec, 2010


I agree, Lily, there's always one type of beige coloured seed left! I've just read that any cheap mix of seed which has pink or green bits in is one to avoid as, apparently, it's dried dog biscuit used to bulk up the mix! I have a shallow terracotta saucer on the grass, quite close to the feeders, in which I put the food I mentioned. The peanuts are taken by Sid Squirrel before the birds get a chance, leaving them the rest to eat. The Blackbirds are struggling to find any more red Pyracantha berries as they've almost gone, they don't seem as keen on the yellow ones. Beggars can't be choosers though ... lol!

20 Dec, 2010


Talking of porridge oats, does anyone know where you can buy them in bulk? We're currently buying 1kg bags from the supermarket.

21 Dec, 2010


Brill blog think you are doing a fantastic job with the birds.

21 Dec, 2010


Thanks everyone for the tips and encouragement! I agree that the orange pyracantha were not very acceptable. I think they are sick of apples, they are masses under the tree all frozen at the moment of course.

21 Dec, 2010


I prefer to buy the type of fat ball WITHOUT the plastic netting covering ... I put them into a metal mesh bird feeder ...

21 Dec, 2010


You're so right, Tt, RSPB say that beaks and/or feet can get caught in them, so always remove the netting.

21 Dec, 2010


Just saw this on a doggie website ...

The RSPB is warning that cooked turkey fat is extremely dangerous to birds. Many people put the leftover contents of Christmas dinner roasting tins outside, wrongly believing that it is as beneficial to birds as other fats like lard and suet.

They pour the fat onto bird tables or mix it with seed thinking it will give birds energy and nutrients. But the wildlife charity is warning that it could actually kill them.

Cooked turkey fat is completely unsuitable for birds for several reasons.

It remains soft even when cooled, meaning it could smear onto birds’ feathers and ruin their water-proofing and insulating qualities.

Birds need clean, dry feathers to survive the cold and a layer of grease would make this virtually impossible.

The softness of turkey fat once cooked also means it is impractical to make popular ‘bird cake’ where you mix fat with bird seeds, as it will not harden enough to hold its shape.

The fat in roasting tins cannot be separated from other leftover elements such as meat juices. This concoction can go rancid very quickly, especially if left in a warm kitchen for a while before being put outside, and form an ideal breeding ground for salmonella and other food poisoning bacteria.

Birds are prone to bacterial infections at this time of year as their defences are low and their energy levels depleted with the cold.

Also, many people add other ingredients to a joint of meat before roasting including rubbing it liberally with salt in order to crisp the skin. High levels of salt are toxic to garden birds.

Louise Pedersen from the RSPB’s West Midlands office says: “Using fat from roasting tins to feed to garden birds is one big no-no.

“Roasting tin fat will likely be mixed with lots of other juices which will go off very quickly and cause disease on bird tables. It could also damage birds’ feathers which are so important for keeping them healthy and warm. And any salt added to meat can have a devastating effect of its own.

“Christmas time always brings out the suggestion that it’s a good idea and people want to do all they can to help wildlife, but in reality, they could be killing them with kindness.”

But the RSPB suggests many other leftover Christmas scraps, which would be beneficial to garden birds including Christmas cake crumbs, mince pie pastry crumbs and biscuit crumbs. Other suitable leftovers include mild grated cheese, cooked or uncooked rice, breakfast cereals, cooked potatoes and fruit.

The charity says that additional feeding at this time of year can be the difference between life and death, particularly for some of the smaller garden birds.

Louise Pedersen says: “Although cooked turkey fat must be avoided, there are lots of other leftovers in our homes that will give birds energy and nutrients to help them through the winter. Natural food will be in short supply as trees and bushes are covered in snow and frost and the ground is hard.

“We always have so much food at this time of year and people love to put their leftovers to good use. As long as we know which foods are suitable we could really help our birds fight the cold. They will repay you by brightening up gardens long into winter and coming back year after year.”

The cooking juices from all other meats as well as turkey are equally as unsuitable for feeding to garden birds.

The RSPB recommends that the best way to dispose of meat fat is to leave it to cool down and put it in the bin, not pour it down the sink.

22 Dec, 2010


Tt, that's really good info., we're having beef sirloin so no turkey fat in our kitchen! Probably no crumbs left on our plates either ... lol!

22 Dec, 2010


I'm a vegetarian, except for occasional fish, so no turkey fat here ...:o)

22 Dec, 2010


The birds round here seem very picky Shirley, turned their beaks up at porridge oats! They got left along with those round beige seeds you mentioned. Ah well, looks like porridge for breakfast for me now. All the other delicacies went down well though :o)

27 Dec, 2010


Lily, try putting it in a cereal bowl with a spoon .. lol!

27 Dec, 2010


thanks for all your tips everyone! My Christmas cake has been a bit of a disaster and will probably end up on the bird table.

Currently I am stuck in a little village in Luxembourg snowed in as it were. We are supposed to be leaving tomorrow but its not looking good. It took us nearly 2 days to get here, having taken refuge from a blizzard on the hard shoulder of a Belgium motorway overnight, tucked in between 2 lorries!

28 Dec, 2010


Is that with milk and sugar then Shirley? LOL
Oh dear Rachelsmum, sounds like the Christmas cake wasn't the only disaster! I do hope you managed to have a good time when you finally did get there, bet it was freezing cold on that hard shoulder. :o((

28 Dec, 2010


Lily, have just thrown out a very smelly Blue Cheese ... I only bought it for others as can't stand it myself ... our resident Blackbird is tucking in so it wasn't a total waste!
Rachelsmum ... your Christmas travelling sounds like my worst nightmare ... I hope the journey home is not so worrying for you. : o ))

29 Dec, 2010


Hi Rachelsmum ...
Have you still got internet connection in Luxembourg ?
... or are you en route home ?
Safe journey back to Wales. :o) xxx

Shirley ...
If the other birds keep a distance from your resident Blackbird ...
the reason could be a case of temporary bad breath ... ;o)

29 Dec, 2010


LOL, Terra! : o ))

29 Dec, 2010

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