Feeding Birds

This helps them survive, especially during cold winters or in early spring when there’s not much natural food around. It also encourages birds into your garden where you can see them. You don’t need to buy special bird food or feeders. You can make everything you need with things from the supermarket. Different birds like different foods. Try a variety of types and see which birds try them.

Coconut Crunch : invented by a previous Wildlife Action Award winner

You need:

  • 1 cup dessicated coconut
  • 1 chopped apple
  • half a cup of sunflower seeds
  • half a cup of raisins
  • 25g of rolled oats
  • 80g melted lard
  • string and a cocktail stick (both about 10cm long)
  • cling film (square approx 20cm x 20cm)
  • scissors

Put the desiccated coconut in a bowl with some water and leave it to soak for a few minutes.  Add the chopped apple, sunflower seeds, raisins, rolled oats and melted lard. Mix all the ingredients together.  Tie the string to each end of the cocktail stick to form a handle.  Put half the crunch mix on the piece of cling film. Then put the cocktail stick on top and cover it (but not the string!) with the rest of the mix. Cover with the bottom half of the piece of cling film.

Crumble pastry maggots (good for attracting robins and tits if you put it on a birdtable; dunnocks, wrens and wagtails if you put it on the ground)

You need:

  • 150 g flour
  • 50 g lard/vegetable fat
  • A mixing bowl

Put both ingredients in a bowl, and mix together using your fingertips. Then mould the mixture into maggot shapes! Sprinkle the mixture on your birdtable, or on the ground.

Raisin and pastry pine cones (good for attracting blue tits, great tits and greenfinches)

You need:

  • 140 g flour
  • A handful of raisins
  • 30 g margarine
  • 40 g lard
  • Water
  • Pine cones
  • A mixing bowl
  • A piece of string

Mix the ingredients together in a bowl with your fingertips.  Add one tablespoon of water and mix to make a firm dough.  Pinch off little lumps and push them into an open pine cone.  Attach string and hang the pine cone up, or leave it on the ground.

Speedy bird cake (good for attracting tits, greenfinches and possibly great spotted woodpeckers)

You need:

  • 100g suet or lard or vegetable fat, cut into small pieces and left in a warm place for about an hour.
  • A handful of sunflower and pumpkin seeds, or special birdseed
  • A handful of raisins Some grated cheese
  • Some unsalted peanuts
  • Empty yoghurt pot
  • Large needle or skewer
  • String
  • A mixing bowl

Carefully make a hole in the bottom of the yoghurt pot with the needle or skewer.  Make a knot in a length of string and thread it through the hole until the knot holds it in place.  Place the ingredients in a bowl and squash them together with your hands.  Empty the mixture into the pot and leave to set in the fridge for an hour or so.  Hang it up outside.

Remember:

  • Suet, dry porridge oats, maize flakes, canary seeds, sunflower seed, nuts, bacon rind, dried fruit, apples, baked potatoes and coconut are all good for birds. You can invent your own recipes.
  • Don’t use salty food such as crisps or salted peanuts. Most birds’ digestive systems cannot cope with too much salt.
  • Birds come to rely upon food put out for them. Once you start, try to put out food regularly so they don’t go hungry.
  • Try not to put out food where it will make birds vulnerable to attack by cats. Hang it up from a tree or a post, or put it on a birdtable, high enough to prevent cats jumping up to it. If you put it on the ground, do so far from bushes where cats might hide.
  • Soak dry foods such as desiccated coconut or dry bread before putting them out so that they don’t swell up inside birds’ stomachs.
  • You can feed the birds all year round.

Don’t forget to keep your bird table and feeders clean, and don’t put out more than will be eaten the same day to avoid attracting vermin.

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