Sunday, 27 January 2013

Feed the Birds!

"Come feed the little birds
Show them you care
And you'll be glad if you do
Their young ones are hungry
Their nests are so bare"
Do you feed the birds? We feed the birds from about October to March/April. The harsh weather we have had recently is very hard on wild birds. They can lose 10% of their body mass in one night, just trying to keep warm! And while Spring is fast approaching, it can also bring severe weather! It's not too late to start!
These little birds are easily attracted to bird feeders and tables and can be watched from the comfort of your own home. It is fascinating to see these wild birds so close, watch their acrobatics on feeders, their pecking orders and how they interact with each other. It's really exciting to see a new species come into your garden and learn what it is. This winter we have seen all these birds in our garden...
I purchased a bird feeding station a couple of years ago quite cheaply and it is still going strong. They can be got for as little as €15 in Heaton's. It's safe for the birds as cats in the area can't climb the metal pole. We leave out Nyger seed, good quality peanuts, black sunflower seeds and suet balls studded with seed in feeders all the time. In addition, we leave out a variation of dried meal worms, raisins, suet pellets, oats and mixed bird seed on a tray feeder and always plenty of fresh water!
Okay, so it's not 'tuppence a bag' but bird food is inexpensive and can be found in all supermarkets and garden centres. You probably have plenty of bird food in your kitchens at the moment! Porridge oat flakes, cooked rice and potato, fruit; currants, raisins, apples and pears can be skewered onto branches, grated hard cheese, fat; suet, unsalted bacon and meat trimmings. Dry bread is not good as it can swell up in their stomachs. I often make my own bird food and will include some tutorials in the coming weeks. Bird tables and feeders are easily made from stuff lying around the house.
My husband fashioned this seed feeder from a lucozade bottle!
Bird feeding can cost as much or as little as you like but what it does require is consistency! Once you start, they will become dependent on you. I find it best to leave out an adequate supply of food and refill as soon as it has been eaten. These little birds often come a long way for your food, you don't want it to be a waste of their precious energy. I never fill feeders to the top as food, especially peanuts can go mouldy.
Keep the area clean; you can wear gloves and use some household disinfectant to clean feeders ensuring that it is rinsed off and dry before refilling with food. Move your feeder around to avoid a build-up of droppings as many birds will feed off the ground.
Lots more information can be found at Birdwatch Ireland.
So go on, give it a try...
Feed the little birds...and you'll be glad if you do!

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