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Watching birds congregate around your garden feeder and on your lawn is a great way to while away an afternoon. While some people are lucky enough to have a garden that naturally attracts birds, primarily because of the abundance of food and the range of food types available on and around the vegetation, others choose to put out food in a bid to attract birds.
It is generally considered acceptable to feed wild birds, although what you feed them will depend on the exact species of bird as well as factors like availability and time of year. Nuts, seeds, and small insects are generally considered healthy, attractive food sources.
Read on to find out more about feeding your wild bird population.
It is generally accepted that you should only feed wild animals when it will not cause harm to do so. Most conservationists and experts agree that feeding wild birds is safe, although there are some opponents to wild bird feeding that claim it makes them dependent on you as a food source. If you were to move, they would continue to come back to your garden and may starve because their regular food source has dried up.
Bear in mind that wild birds only really need supplemental food sources when natural food is scarce or when they need additional energy and nutrients. During late winter and early spring, there may not be many fruits and berries on the trees and insects can be scarce, but the birds are preparing for breeding and nesting, so this is considered a good time of year to feed them.
During summer, there should be plentiful natural food and the birds will not require your help in providing tidbits. There are some exceptions to this rule, however, and you can put out seeds for goldfinches and nectar for hummingbirds during the summer months.
If you do buy prepared seed and wild bird feed, do make sure that it is good quality and doesn’t contain any artificial ingredients. You may be presented with a wide range of different seeds and mixes, so try to choose one that is appropriate for the types and species of birds that visit your garden. Below are some ingredients and foods that are usually readily and easily available and that offer benefit to your avian visitors.
Bread is not usually considered harmful or dangerous for wild birds, but it is also nutritionally low quality, so while your garden visitors will eat it up, they will not be getting the nutrition they need from their diet. Feed it in moderation and soak it first to make it easier to digest. Also, brown bread is considered better for wild birds than white.
Oatmeal is a filling food source, and it can also dehydrate birds if they are given too much of the dry cereal. Soak oats before feeding and ensure that you provide access to a decent water source when feeding this particular type of food.
Crackers can make a decent food source for birds, but they have the same problem as bread, which is that they do not provide much nutritional value other than filling the bird up. This means that they will be less likely to eat more beneficial food types. Soak crackers and ensure that you do not feed processed crackers with human flavorings.
Cooked rice is great for a host of bird species, but uncooked rice can be too challenging for most. Pigeons are one of the exceptions, and they will eat and enjoy this uncooked grain.
Songbirds will eat any of the food types listed above that are considered suitable for wild birds. This includes sunflower seeds, cracked corn, fruit, and peanuts. Providing a mix is a good way of encouraging a diverse range of birds to your garden and ensuring that they all enjoy the food you provide.
There are many species of wild bird that might visit your garden, and while some will have a preference for certain types of food over others, most will enjoy a good selection of seeds, nuts, and fruit. You can buy commercial seed but do make sure that it is a good quality one, and you can even use the ingredients above to make your own treats. Use fat, such as raw suet, to hold everything together and place them around a stick or other natural material. This not only gives the birds sustenance and provides them with food when it is difficult to find naturally, but it challenges them to pull the treats apart so that they can enjoy the food.
Featured Image Credit: Piqsels
Robert’s obsession with all things optical started early in life, when his optician father would bring home prototypes for Robert to play with. Nowadays, Robert is dedicated to helping others find the right optics for their needs. His hobbies include astronomy, astrophysics, and model building. Originally from Newark, NJ, he resides in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where the nighttime skies are filled with glittering stars.
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