Mo Chara: Feeding the Wild Birds

Reporter

Reporter:

Reporter

Email:

news@tipperarystar.ie

Mo Chara: Feeding the Wild Birds

DIY a perfectly effective feeder using recycled materials including plastic bottles

As the weather gets colder, we urge you to consider regularly feeding the wild bird birds in your area. Ireland’s unpredictable weather, this year more than most, means that our native birds are likely in for a difficult Winter and they need your help!
Helping wild birds does not need to be a fancy or expensive endeavour – you can start off by ensuring that fresh water is always available. While there are many decorative birdbaths on the market, all you really need is a shallow container (a cat litter tray or upturned bin lid work well) with a large stone in the middle for perching. Just remember to remove any ice that forms in very cold weather so that our feathered friends can drink.
If you choose to get a bird table, we recommend putting it in the middle of your garden, far from shrubs and bushes that might just conceal a furtive cat. There are many types of hanging feeders available in shops but it’s also possible to DIY a perfectly effective feeder using recycled materials including plastic bottles, bowls, milk cartons or pine-cones.
Deciding what foods to give can be overwhelming so we have put together a bit of information to help you choose:
From the kitchen: Most of us have a wide selection of grain based foods in the kitchen including bread, cakes and biscuits, unfortunately processed white bread and it’s highly-processed cousins are not ideal for wild birds and may cause intestinal distress. Wholemeal or homemade brown breads can be given but it’s best to crumb them and slightly moisten to make it easier for the birds to swallow. Porridge and cornflakes will be gratefully received in cold weather, as will cubed or grated cheese or finely chopped fatty meat rinds. Fat, in fact, is vitally important and while you can buy pre-made fat-balls to hang, you can make your own version from your kitchen; poor the fat from roasted meats (or melted suet) over some bread scraps with grated cheese or over porridge/cornflakes with a handful of raisins thrown in and leave to set (empty yoghurt pots make handy moulds for this). Depending on the types of birds in your locality, you might find that raiding the fruit-bowl proves a big hit! Blackbirds and thrushes in particular will appreciate halved apples or pears left on the ground. Berries and chopped grapes will also be gladly eaten by a variety of birds.
From the Shops: A top tip when buying bird food from shops to check that the stock is fresh and of good quality – stale or damp seeds and nuts can develop mould and mildew which can kill birds. Peanuts are always a popular choice and will please a wide range of birds; we recommend a mesh feeder for peanuts to prevent young or desperately hungry small birds from eating them whole. Pet shops sell a huge variety of seeds for wild birds. Be aware that pre-mixed seeds are not all equal and lower quality brands are often bulked out with dried corn or wheat which is actually very difficult for most birds, except perhaps pigeons and crows to digest so we recommend buying a high quality mix or buying singular seeds and making your own mix at home! Black sunflower seeds are higher in fat/calories than striped sunflower seeds and are loved by a wide range of birds. Finches love Nyjer/ Niger seed (which is especially calorie-dense), Sparrows love Millet seed and both Robins and Wrens (alongside many others) will be thrilled to chomp down on dried mealworms.
More important even than the type of food you offer is that you offer food regularly. Your local birds become dependent on the food left out by you and if you lose interest and stop feeding your new feathered friends mid-winter, you will have a lot of very hungry birds waiting in your garden – some of these birds will faithfully wait for you until they are too weak to forage for food elsewhere… Feeding wild birds in winter is a particularly good way to teach young children about caring and responsibility and it’s a wonderful habit to instil in them for life. So, buy or make a feeder and pop it somewhere safe that you can see from your window and watch as the number and type of birds visiting your home grows by the day.
For more information about Wild Birds or about adopting from Mo Chara Animal Rescue, please call 087-6576022 or 087-2577182, email mocharaanimalrescue@live.ie or find us on Facebook (www.facebook.com/mocharaanimalrescue).

Upcoming Events
October 7th – Bake Sale –Thurles Cathedral
Visit our renowned bake sale across from Thurles Cathedral on the first Sunday of each month to pick up some delicious home-made bakes! Scones, Breads, Tarts, Cakes, Cupcakes and more – whether you’d like a classic loaf or an adventurous treat, we’ve got you covered!