Many households appreciate the benefits of putting out food for their feathered garden visitors. Feeding the birds is fun, and seeing which species pops in for a snack can be particularly interesting for children, or anyone who lives alone.
It’s also a lovely feeling to know that you’re helping birds to stay healthy when their natural foraging is challenging (such as in the winter, or in heavily built-up urban areas).
Unfortunately, there are a lot of myths and misconceptions around on this topic that need to be addressed. Which means people inadvertently make mistakes in what food they put out for birds, and how!
Not feeding birds correctly may seem unimportant, but some common practices are putting these lovable creatures at risk! In other cases, well-meaning bird feeding fans could be wasting their time and money.
1. Birds shouldn’t be given human food scraps. A lot of the things we eat – and the oils and additives we use – are potentially harmful to birds. Even peanuts for birds are specially selected from appropriate nut species.
2. Don’t assume that bread provides garden birds with all they need. Bread is too processed to be of value to birds. In fact, bird conservation and protection agencies strongly urge people to put out properly balanced bird feed mixes and peanuts. This ensures indigenous birds survive and thrive.
3. Don’t throw bird food on paths and lawns. Think about it for a second. Inviting birds to swoop down for their feast, leaves them vulnerable to predators such as cats.
4. Never overlook the potential for other animal species to grab the good stuff! Squirrels are particularly clever as stealing bird food, especially bird nuts. They don’t need your help, but your feathered friends do! This makes squirrel proof bird feeders or houses a great idea.
5. Cheap bird mixes bought in high street stores are not “just as effective” or nutritious! These are often padded out with things like wheat, oats and poor quality plant seeds, that the birds discard to get to the nuts and seeds they actually need for survival. The waste is not just a mess, it’s a source of weeds and could rot, releasing toxins that harm wildlife.
6. Finally, don’t mistakenly believe buying bird food online is expensive!