We have lots of festive leftovers at this time of year, but not all should be given to the birds, wildlife specialists CJ Wildlife explain
Birds delight us with year-round visits and fun antics, plus their own wild food supplies are likely to be dwindling as the winter stretches on. However, tempting as it is to go out with a tray of Christmas leftovers, bird lovers need to be very careful about what they put on their feeding stations for their feathered friends to eat.
Although people assume that everything we eat will be suitable for sparrows, robins and other species too, the truth is that some aren’t. Indeed, certain foods can be toxic, so people might unwittingly be doing more harm than good.
To help you out in knowing what’s okay to provide and what’s not, we’ve put together this brief guide for festive food.
Absolute no no’s
Fat balls – although we give birds fat balls, leftover turkey fat is a resounding no. The fat stays soft when it cools and so could cover birds’ feathers, damaging their ability to stay warm and even fly from danger.
Indeed, all leftover meat juices that we typically have at Christmas – including ham and goose – are unsuitable because they go off very quickly and can therefore become breeding grounds for bacteria.
Snacks – supermarket nuts, crisps and pretzels are also likely to be bad for birds because they usually have high levels of added salt, which is toxic, while chocolate is also poisonous because of the theobromine it contains.
Despite bread being something many people throw out for their feathered friends, it actually isn’t the best thing you can give them. It isn’t dangerous, but it doesn’t contain many nutrients and so fills their stomachs up with empty calories, potentially reducing their ability to stay warm by burning energy.
Finally, whilst dried fruit is perfectly safe to add to bird tables for your garden birds, do take extra care not to allow dogs or cats to eat any products containing sultanas or raisins as even in small amounts, these can cause serious renal problems.
Good to give at Christmas
Whilst cooked meat juices and fats are bad, processed, uncooked fat is actually great for birds because it is full of calories. Suet or lard mixed with one of our Seed Mixes makes for a lovely bird-friendly Christmas dinner.
Other good treats include the crumbs from Christmas cake, mince pie pastry and biscuits, dry porridge oats, fruit and grated mild cheese.
Many people are also unaware that cooked roast potatoes are suitable for birds too. Just cut them into small cubes and put them on your feeding stations.
With this advice and our specialist products, you can treat the birds in your garden to their own Christmas – just don’t forget to put out plenty of fresh drinking water for when they’ve finished.
For more information visit: www.birdfood.co.ukEnjoy more Kitchen Garden reading in the monthly magazine. Click here to subscribe.
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