Having a little garden crowd outside to feed, engage with and enjoy looking at is one of the best parts of having outside space. It can be extremely beneficial for our happiness to watch nature and birds and can increase our ability to slow down and relax.
Making sure we are feeding them the correct foods is important to keeping a strong, healthy and happy garden crowd population on your feeders.
We’ve put together a little guide to help you find out what’s best to avoid when putting food out for the crowd.
What not to feed garden birds
1. Dried Bread
Although lots of people put out bread, it actually has very little nutritional value for our garden birds. Bread does not contain the necessary protein and fat birds need from their diet, and so it can act as an empty filler. Although bread isn’t harmful to birds, try not to offer it in large quantities, since its nutritional value is relatively low.
If you are putting out bread make sure that it is well soaked. Unsoaked bread can swell up in their stomachs and kill them. Dry chunks of bread will choke baby birds, and a chick on a diet of bread may not develop into a healthy fledgling.
2. Salted Items
Salt is extremely bad for birds. Salt dries and swells up in their stomachs, which can lead to them dying. It has no nutritional value either. Always avoid Salted peanuts and only put out bird friendly nuts. Don’t give birds salted bacon rinds, crisps or fat with salt in it.
3. Cat or Dog food
Don’t bother adding cat or dog food to your feeders, this rarely gets the attention of small birds but attracts pigeons and magpies to the feeders. It can go off quite quickly in the summer and breed bacteria. It also doesn’t have the nutrition content that is needed for smaller birds.
This is no good to garden birds and is very unhealthy for them. Avoid all forms of dairy like milk, cream and butter. You can put out grated cheese and this is loved by Robins & Dunnocks but try to keep it to a treat and don’t let it be the only thing that they are eating. Birds like us need nutritional foods and they need to have a varied diet.
5. Cheap bird seed
Avoid putting out bargain basement bird food, it is full of millet and wheat and has very little nutritional content for the birds. These seeds and grains appeal to very few species, and other birds will toss the seed to the ground instead of eating it, causing a mess of sprouting weeds.
6. Junk Food
Junk food such as chips, cheese puffs, corn chips and other foods are all bad for birds. They offer very little nutritional value and are filled with processed chemicals that have not been tested on birds, so their effects cannot be predicted. If you want to offer a unique treat instead, offer plain, air-popped popcorn with no salt or other toppings.
7. Raw Meat
Many birds are carnivorous, but avoid offering raw meat in any form, including ground meats or meat scraps. These foods can spoil very quickly and will grow dangerous bacteria that can kill birds, and they may also attract other undesirable feeder pests such as rodents. Instead, offer fatty protein as suet to give birds a nutritious and safe option.