Winter bird feeding tips from the RSPB

fieldfare_sr_tcm9-238713To get you all geared up for Monday’s speaker, Roger Hooper of the RSPB, here are some tips for you to help our feathered friends get through the winter:

Know your birds
Different species eat different things. Sparrows and finches like seeds; tits like fat; and thrushes and robins like fruit and worms. And starlings will eat just about anything. Make sure you’re providing the right menu for your diners – find out what to feed birds. (Not sure which birds are visiting you? Try the RSPB bird identifier)

Look out for leftovers…
Some of our own food can be good for birds – for example, fruit cake or mince pies, dried fruit, unsalted nuts, or apples and pears past their best. Try sprinkling grated mild cheese under trees and bushes for more timid birds like wrens and dunnocks. Here’s a fun family recipe for making special cake for birds.

Choose the right stuff…
Birds probably won’t eat your unwanted Christmas Day sprouts. And putting out turkey fat is a big no-no – it’s so soft it’ll stick to birds’ feathers and stop them from keeping waterproof and warm. Avoid anything mouldy or salty (too much salt is poisonous to small birds).

Don’t poison your pets!
Birds love dried fruit. But if you have a dog, don’t put grapes, currants, raisins or sultanas within their reach. Vine fruits can be toxic to dogs (check the RSPCA’s advice).

1040799_tcm9-282110Keep water in bird baths and ponds unfrozen
Birds need to drink and bathe every day – even when it’s really cold outside. A pond or bird bath is great, but even an upturned bin lid or plant saucer can give birds the water they need. We’ve got lots of useful tips on how to keep water from freezing.

Put out the right amount of food
Only put out what will get eaten during the day. This is important if you want to avoid unwanted visitors like rats. It’ll also mean that there aren’t big piles of mouldy food on your bird table.

Keep it clean!
Dirty bird feeders and bird tables can help spread diseases. Make sure you clean them regularly to keep your visitors healthy and happy. And always wash your hands after feeding the birds!