Many people who are lucky enough to have a garden with birds who frequent it want to put little scraps out to make sure that the birds have plenty to feast on during the winter months. Thing is though, as good as those intentions are, you may be doing more harm than good depending on what foodstuffs you are providing. The way the food is presented too needs to be safe, so that the birds aren’t in danger when they visit you.
Bird tables can be as simple as you like, cheap as chips. A tray with a raised rim and gaps at each corner to allow for the drainage of rainwater is all that’s needed for birds to sit happily on and feed on seeds. Nut feeders are great too, the kind made from steel mesh with holes large enough so as to not damage the birds beaks whilst they peck at the nuts, but at the same time small enough to make sure big whole nuts do not become loose and choke the birds.
Homemade feeders, like the kind made from pinecones and peanut butter are so cute and kids (if you have them) can get involved making these. You can also use half a fresh coconut filled with a mixture of peanut butter, seed mix, millet, flaked maize, sunflower seeds and peanuts – but try to by peanuts from reputable bird food stores as some contain natural toxins harmful to birds, and never use salted or roasted, always plain.
Dog and cat food can be used when little worms are hard for the birds to find, however if you have many neighbourhood cats maybe stick to seeds as the birds could be attacked by cats whilst nibbling away. Mild fine grated cheese is good too, as a little treat but not milk to drink. Fresh coconut is fine but desiccated isn’t as the birds can choke on it or it can plump up in their tummies causing upset. Cooked leftover porridge oats shouldn’t be put out either, but raw dry ones are fine.
Please don’t put out cooking fat or vegetable oils, margarine or dripping with added salt. These things when solidified smear on the birds feathers and cause all sorts of problems, and they solidify in the birds’ tummies too causing bloating. The added salt that sometimes is present makes the birds very ill too.
If you find mouldy food on the feeder, please clean it away quick as you can using warm water and make sure all traces are gone as this can lead to flies and things. It may be that you are putting too much food out, so try putting out a bit at a time.