Seeds and seed mixes
The most accessible food that you can provide for birds in the winter are sunflower seeds, peanuts and seed mixes.
Sunflower seeds are suitable for many species of birds, as they are energy rich.
Peanuts are also rich in protein and fat.
Raisins should be given on feeding tables in combination with other foods.
Seed mix for a hanging feeder with sunflower seeds, crushed peanuts, millet and oat flakes.
Seed mix for feeding tables with wheat, sunflower seeds, crushed maize, oats and crushed peanuts.
All the seeds and nuts you provide for wild birds should be raw and unsalted!
Never leave whole peanuts out for the birds, particularly in spring and in summer, as they can choke on them! If you use peanuts as bird food, crush them and put them in a mesh feeder.
Bird seed cake
Fat balls and other types of feeders are an excellent source of energy for the birds in winter.
If you buy your fat balls, always take them out of the nylon net package as the birds can get entangled in it and hurt themselves.
You can also make a bird seed cake yourself. Here is our recipe:
- seed mix
- dried fruits
- oat flakes
- desalted cheese
Render the lard. Add a choice of the ingredients listed above and mix well. Before the mixture cools down you need to pour it into a plastic cup, a coconut shell half, the rind of half an orange. Use your imagination!
Or you can put the bird seed cake directly on your feeding table after it cools down.
Home-made lard cakes can soften or go rancid in warm weather so use them only in winter.
Our food – a free meal for birds
You don’t have to buy special food mixes for birds. Food remains from your household often provide just the fats and carbohydrates that birds need in order to maintain the crucial stock of body fat in winter. The food remains will attract a variety of birds – from robins to song thrushes.
Here are a few ideas:
- boiled potatoes and rice;
- desalted cheese;
- finely chopped rinds of unsalted bacon and salo;
- starlings will readily pick off bits of meat from boiled bones if left on the feeding table;
- seasonal fruits are also a preferred food for many species of birds.
What should you avoid?
Most food remains from your household are harmless to wild birds. However, there are a few to be avoided:
- Unprocessed rice and dried coconut can swell in the bird’s stomach and have fatal consequences.
- Bacon rinds are nutritious, especially raw, but birds can choke on them if the pieces are too big. Rinds should be chopped finely and they should be fixed to the feeding station so that the birds can tear off pieces alone.
- Do not feed rotten or spicy food to birds.
- Salted foods, like crisps or salted nuts, are harmful too – greater quantities of salt are not safe for most birds.
- Margarine and vegetable oils are unsaturated and can be harmful to birds. When they are digested, they have an impact on the waterproof and insulation qualities of the bird’s feathers.
- Residue oils from cooking are dangerous for birds because they are mixed with juice from the meat cooked in them, for example. Also, they provide a good environment for many bacteria and thus are a potential threat to the health of the birds.
Dairy products and coconuts
Birds can digest fermented dairy products such as cheese. Soft, grated desalted cheese will attract robins, wrens and other species of small birds.
Never give milk to birds. Their digestive system is not adapted to it and its digestion can lead to serious problems and even kill the bird.
Coconuts should be serves only fresh, in their shell. Rinse thoroughly to wash away the sweet coconut water before bringing the coconut out.
Do not feed dried coconut to birds, as it can seriously damage their stomach and lead to their death.
Canned cat and dog food – an alternative energy source for birds
Canned cat and dog food is a nice substitute for earth worms, particularly in hot, dry summers when the birds have trouble finding earth worms. Many birds would readily eat canned cat and dog food and use it to feed their young too.
DO NOT USE DRY dog biscuits and granule cat and dog food for birds, as they can choke on the hard pieces. Do not soak them and give them to birds, as in hot weather they can dry quickly. Also, be aware that such food can attract cats so you should avoid it.