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What to feed the birds?

Discussion in 'Personal' started by modelmaker, Feb 5, 2012.

  1. modelmaker

    modelmaker Occasional commenter

    My sweetheart is concerned about the welfare of the birds now the garden is covered in snow. She finished up the packet of bird food she puts out for them this morning and is now resorting to bread.
    I'm not a bird expert, and neither is she, but I vaugely remember reading somewhere that bread isn't very good for birds in cold weather, but to give them lard instead. Looking through the pantry, I see we have things such as lentils and dried fruit. Will they eat this sort of thing?
  2. They love dried fruit. Nuts, seeds, cheese, fresh fruit, lard...
  3. I put out crushed weetabix and Ryvita, and a few sesame and pumpkin seeds. I don't know if that's right? I worry that dry stuff might swell up in their tummies.
  4. bedingfield

    bedingfield New commenter

    I put out chopped apple for them. Stale bread rather than fresh is best for them as it is drier and less stodgy in their tummies.

  5. Mangleworzle

    Mangleworzle Star commenter

    Slab of lard from the supermarket, melt it in a pan, once melted empty in value porridge oats/weetabix etc. pour into take-away carton and leave to set. I also buy the odd reduced loaf or two for them at the supermarket, 10-20p sometimes.
    Our left-overs go: us - dog - birdtable - compost heap
    Depending on quality and what it is. Though the dog will often scavenge stuff that drops off the bird table that she has already turned her nose up at in her bowl. Found food is always the most prized.
  6. modelmaker

    modelmaker Occasional commenter

    Thanks for the suggestions. I mashed some lard into porridge oats, sultanas, barley, brie and broken up walnuts. There was also an old pack of crunchy nut cornflakes I suggested she scatter on the bird table separately.
    But as I type this, I wonder how do the other animals that can't reach the bird table get on in winter? Do we worry more about birds than we do about hedgehogs, squirrels, badgers, foxes etc than we ought?
  7. magic surf bus

    magic surf bus Star commenter

    I bought a bag of those fatty food balls and a couple of dangly half coconuts with a lardy/seedy/nutty mix poured in. A squirrel took the fatty food balls within a couple of hours, but it's ignored the dangling half coconuts, which are popular with all sorts of birds from wrens up to wood pigeons.
  8. giraffe

    giraffe New commenter

    Halve some apples and scatter them on the ground - some under bushes and some in the open.
    They can save lives of blackbirds and starlings. The juice in the apples is especially good to stop them getting dehydrated
  9. Mangleworzle

    Mangleworzle Star commenter

    We have an old frying pan with the handle cut off on a paving slab, when it's frosty I empty the ice out and fill it from a kettle in the morning, It cools down soon enough but stays liquid most of the day - this gets a lot of customers too.
  10. Grandsire

    Grandsire Star commenter

    My garden's busier than Heathrow at the moment! I've been putting out food since late autumn: chopped apples, peanuts, fat balls, sunflower seeds, general mixed seed and a sort of candle-like thing made from lard and seeds.
    The sunflower seeds (which are really cheap) seem most popular with the great-****, blue-**** and coal-**** and the feeder is completely emptied in about three hours (sometimes they queue up on the branch waiting for a space!), but the sparrows, chaffinches and greenfinches prefer the mixed seed on the table, and the blackbirds fight for the apples on the ground.
    Yesterday I bought some niger seed (quite expensive) because someone told me that it'll attract goldfinches, which only appear occasionally and never stay for very long, but I haven't put it out yet. I did buy some of those disgusting dried mealworms a while back but they weren't very popular with any of the birds.
    I try to ensure that the feeders are topped up every day as I've read that some birds will travel a mile or more to a reliable food source when the weather is bad - but I don't usually put water out, except when the stream freezes over, which it did this week.
    It doesn't seem a lot of money to spend for the enjoyment we (the ancient cat and I) get from watching them from the window.
  11. bedingfield

    bedingfield New commenter

    A good point. Something to remember is that once you start putting food out for the birds in the winter, you need to continue until the better weather. The birds will begin to rely on it.

  12. Digestive biscuits - crumbled up are a great favourite in my garden!
    The wood pigeons, sparrows, blackbirds etc..leave the bird seed and polish off the digestive biscuits. There is a lot of goodness in them. My dog goes and pinches the bigger pieces..
    Try it!
  13. I love the idea of grandsire's cat watching the birdies! I always seem to put food out int he morning and then forget and send the cats off out. They have not brought me any birds lately, just field mice (and a massive rat - yuck).
    The fat balls (ho ho) are handy for hanging from branches - i don;t seem to have any squuirrels. I made bird cakes with my class last year (they thought the lard was rotten stuff) and I htink I may now plan to make soem tomorrow!
  14. oldsomeman

    oldsomeman Star commenter

    The squirrels would demolish any food i left on the ground or unprotected..so i have to put stuff in protected cages.........so they turned their attention to eating the buds off the daffodils and found the few tulips i had and ate those...
    My garden birds love the fat balls and peamuts( as a warning dont use old peanuts you have kept it seems they can develop a poison and kill the birds if left. i cant put the ground food out as the 10 plus cats, which live near by, would go for the birds...........besided shi tt ing im my garden! Tried a bird table but the squirrels take over and even atack the smaller birds if they can!
  15. Anonymous

    Anonymous New commenter

    Do you have muslims in your class? I made bird cakes every year with the children in the nursery where I taught but I was advised not to use lard because the muslim children shouldn't be allowed to handle it.( I wonder if there are any muslim birds about.)
  16. veni_vidi

    veni_vidi New commenter

    What about bananas and satsumas? Will anything eat these?

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