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Tips for making your own bird food
During the winter months our wildlife can have a tough time hunting for food. When the temperature drops birds need to find high energy food just to keep warm, and with daylight hours at a minimum it can be hard for them.
Regardless of whether you have a large or small garden, or even a small window box you can help them survive the winter months without it costing a fortune.
Different species do like to eat different things, so it may save you time and money to understand the variety of birds that are visiting your home. For example, sparrows and finches like seeds, tits like fats, and thrushes and robins like fruit and worms.
If you are planning on feeding your birds scraps and leftovers make sure you only put out food that’s suitable for them. Fruit that’s past it’s best like apples and pears are a great way to use up leftover fruit. For timid birds such as wrens and dunnocks why not grate some cheese under trees and bushes. If you’re uncertain about whether a type of food is suitable check the RSPB website: https://www.rspb.org.uk/birds-and-wildlife/advice/how-you-can-help-birds/feeding-birds/safe-food-for-birds
Always be aware that if you have pets, they too could be helping themselves to these culinary delights, so make sure you don’t put out food types that could be poisonous to them such as grapes, raisins and sultanas.
If you’d like to make your own feeding balls, mix some dry porridge oats, cheese, sultanas, currants, breadcrumbs, peanuts and bind them together with melted suet or lard only, as these fats set properly. Other fats like turkey fat won’t set and instead can coat the bird’s feathers preventing them from flying. For more information on recipe’s and how to hang the balls follow this link: https://www.rspb.org.uk/fun-and-learning/for-kids/games-and-activities/activities/make-a-speedy-bird-cake
Feeding garden birds doesn’t have to be just in the winter, feeding them all year round can really help. During the spring adults are busy raising their chicks and are therefore constantly looking for the right kind of food not only for their chicks but also for them. If they can find easy food supplies for themselves, they will be more efficient at finding food for their chicks. During the summer and autumn months birds use lots of energy moulting their feathers ready for their winter plumage and also need to build their fat reserves ready for the winter.
With numbers of so called ‘common birds’ declining in our wildlife any little part we play can help them survive. Song thrushes, starlings and sparrows amongst others, have now been red listed as birds of extreme conservation concern. It’s not totally understood as to why the decline has been so dramatic in the last 50 years but changes to agricultural practices and lack of food are factors that are likely to have had an impact.
No matter how small your part plays, it will help your local bird population. So why not make your very own fat balls, throwback your shutters, pull up a chair and enjoy the comings and goings of your local wildlife.