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Feeding tips for garden birds facing battle for survival over winter months
AS A wintry chill creeps over News Shopper’s patch, experts are warning about the plight of wild birds. SARAH TROTTER digs out tips for feeding feathered friends in the garden.
PLUNGING temperatures and ice this winter will leave garden birds "vulnerable", hungry and battling to survive, experts say.
Residents are urged to leave high energy foods such as peanuts, fat balls, and black sunflower seeds out regularly for them.
It comes after pet shop chain Pets At Home found 59 per cent of Brits rarely or never fed birds during the winter months last year.
Store manager at Blackheath’s Pets at Home, Nick Briscoe, said: "Wild birds are particularly vulnerable at this time of the year because the majority of people often forget to put food out for them.
"Combined with the freezing cold weather, it can be a very difficult for the birds to survive."
While senior conservation officer for nature conservation charity RSPB in the south east, Lucy Baker, added: "Feedings birds can make a real difference, particularly when the weather is cold.
"At this time of year, there are a lot more birds in your garden looking for food.
"They need higher energy foods for when the winter really gets cold. Things like fat balls will keep them warm."
She added: "Something people often forget is a supply of drinking water."
She suggested gently breaking ice in a frozen pond to keep water flowing or putting a ball in the pond to stop it freezing over.
Speaking of the importance of setting up a regular feeding routine, she added: "They will forage where they can, if they know they are getting a nice regular supply of food, that is good for them and they can save energy rather than forage."
Top wild bird foods:
- Bird seed mixtures - better ones contain plenty of flaked maize, sunflower seeds, and peanut granules. Avoid seed mixtures that have split peas, beans, dried rice or lentils.
- Fat balls - high energy treats. Make your own by pouring melted fat, such as suet or lard, onto a mixture of ingredients such as seeds, nuts, dried fruit, oatmeal, cheese and cake. Use about one-third fat to two-thirds mixture. Stir in a bowl and set in a container such as an empty coconut shell or plastic cup
- Peanuts: Rich in fat and popular with many wild birds, especially tits and sparrows. Do not use salted or dry roasted peanuts and buy from a reputable dealer
- Sunflower hearts: One of the highest sources of energy for wild birds. No mess as the husk is already removed. Particularly attractive to finches, tits, blackbirds and house sparrows
- Black sunflower seeds: Very high in oil content, providing lots of energy. Ideal for chaffinches, greenfinches, sparrows and tits
- Mealworms: Very high in protein. A favourite for robins, blue tits and songbirds -Need to be fresh
- Cooked rice, brown or white, without salt added, will be eaten during severe winter weather.
Do not use:
- Dry dog and cat biscuits as birds may choke on the hard lumps.
- Cooked fat from roasting tins and dishes is bad for birds - Mouldy and stale food - Never give milk to any bird.
- Polyunsaturated margarines or vegetable oils - cooked porridge oats
For more information and to buy feed visit petsathome.com/shop/wildlife/wildlife-food-feeders/ or rspb.org.uk
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