What food should you offer to birds in wintertime?
For most birds – as for most wildlife in general – a good-quality habitat is determined by four main factors: food, shelter, water and space. In winter food is the main necessity of birds. In cold days it becomes harder for them to find the insects and invertebrates which form the main part of the birds’ diet. By providing nutritious food that is rich in energy you can keep the birds close to you for the whole winter. The lower the temperatures, the more food birds will need.
The amount that a bird needs to eat depends on the energy content of its food. The most affordable food we can offer to our feathered friends in the winter is sunflower seeds, mixtures of different seeds, or peanuts. Sunflower seeds are popular with many species due to their high energy content. Peanuts are also rich in oil and protein. Raisins are best when placed on a bird table and mixed with other foods. A mixture for a free hanging feeder can contain sunflower seeds, pieces of peanuts, millet and oat flakes. A mixture for a bird table includes wheat, sunflower seeds, pieces of corn, oats and pieces of peanuts. All seeds and peanuts should be raw and unsalted!
Food for free
Feeding garden birds need not be costly. Kitchen scraps are often rich in the very fats and carbohydrates that birds need to maintain vital reserves of body fat in the winter months. Kitchen scraps placed on a bird table will be eaten by a variety of species – from Robins to Song Thrushes. от червеногръдки до пойни дроздове. Bread, cake and biscuit crumbs soaked in water are also popular, as are cooked potato and rice, cheese and chopped bacon rind. Bones from cooked meats suspended from a bird table will be pecked clean by Starlings and smaller species. Seasonal fruits are also popular for many species of birds.
Foods to avoid
Many food scraps are safe for birds, but some should be avoided. Uncooked rice and desiccated coconut, for example, will swell up inside a bird’s gut, often with fatal results. Bacon rind is nutritious, especially uncooked, but may choke birds; it should be cut into small cubes, or secured firmly for birds to feed upon. Birds should not be given spoiled or spicy food, and most bird species do not cope with large amounts of salt, so salty fats, cured foods, crisps, and salted peanuts and seeds should be avoided. While birds adore saturated fats, such as raw suet and lard, unsaturated fats may be harmful. These fats, which include margarine and vegetable oils, can become smeared on to the bird’s body, where they destroy the waterproofing and insulating qualities of its feathers.
From Robert Burton’s The Pocket Birdfeeder Guide