Previous Christmas bird notes have featured birds that people associate with Christmas, such as turkey. This year rather than focus on bird species that humans feast on, perhaps feasting humans could be encouraged to share some of their food with the birds!
After the hearty Christmas dinner there are inevitably leftovers. Some of these leftovers could provide nourishment and energy for our garden birds, at this time of year when they need all the help they can get.Please do not just throw out to the birds everything that is left. Too much will attract vermin. Just put out a moderate amount that can be eaten in one day. In addition, crumb down or cut up food so the birds can swallow the pieces easily. Here is some further advice issued by the RSPB.
What to give the birds over Christmas
Christmas cake and mince pies will be particularly beneficial, as the dried fruit and fat inside and the outer pastry make high energy snacks for them. Crumb them up and scatter them on your bird table or ground feeding tray, which makes it easier for the birds to find and for uneaten items to be cleared away.
Foods such as unsalted nuts and other savoury snacks will also be good for the birds as they are rich in energy. Crushed or grated they will be easier to eat and will be particularly appreciated by house sparrows, greenfinches, tits, robins and starlings, as well as many others.
Cheeseboards are a festive favourite to finish off a meal and consider leftover cheese scraps for your birds. Mild, grated cheese offers a high-fat, high-energy snack, and will stand the birds in good stead during the cold snap. types of cooked potatoes are good too.
Roast potatoes in particular are high in fat and energy. Cut the potatoes into bite-size chunks and birds such as blackbirds and thrushes will feed on them.
Water is a bird’s favourite tipple, so make sure a shallow dish of water is always available. Dehydration is as dangerous to birds at this time of year as starvation. If water becomes frozen don’t be tempted to add anything – simply adding some hot water from a kettle to thaw it out is effective and harmless to birds.
What not to give to the birds
Avoid cooked meats as they could attract vermin to your garden. snacks are also not recommended, as most garden birds cannot process salt and will die if given too much.
Avoid foods such as salted peanuts, crisps, salty bacon and chips. that accompanies your turkey is not good for birds, as it can contain some ingredients that can dehydrate them.
Bread is similar in that it is not calorie dense, and whilst it will not cause any harm, there is little to be gained from it for the birds.
Energy rich foods are better.
Have a good Christmas.