Monday, May 23

Animals. Feeding birds in winter: these mistakes that can be fatal to them

This weekend will be national backyard bird count, organized by the League for the Protection of Birds and the National Museum of Natural History. The opportunity to learn to recognize the species that you see through the window and that come to feed at the feeders that you have installed for the winter. However, good intentions can turn into traps for birds if you don’t follow a few rules… We take stock using the recommendations of the LPO.

1/When to start?

To help them survive, feeding is recommended during the “bad season”, from mid-November to the end of March or the beginning of April. This depends above all on the weather conditions: you must continue in the event of prolonged frost or snow. Regularly monitor the level of seeds, which sometimes drop at breakneck speed, and for good reason: a single feeder can attract several species, especially if the seeds are differentiated.

2/When to stop?

It is advisable to stop feeding in spring and summer, and to do so gradually, not abruptly. Why should we stop after winter? To avoid creating dependency and favor the birds’ instinct to feed themselves. When the heat returns, some become insectivores. Neither should late artificial feeding interfere with the rhythm of nature, by playing on the mating, reproduction or nesting period.

3/Where to install the feeder?

The right place in the center of the garden, in an open place, visible from a kitchen or dining room window, if possible sheltered from humidity and frost. If you have several feeders, it is better to separate them, so that the most timid birds can come and eat. Be careful if you have a cat or if cats live in the neighborhood: move the feeding station away from the ground or any bush where they could lie in wait, as well as walls and side branches so as not to facilitate the access to predators… And take care to keep feeders away from bay windows, at the risk of a fatal collision.

The best foods to give them

-Sunflower seeds (unroasted and unsalted), if possible not streaked, black seeds are better and richer in lipids;
-Mixture of seeds: the optimal mixture being composed of black sunflower, peanuts and crushed corn;
– Simple vegetable fat bread;
-Vegetable fat bread mixed with seeds, berries or insects;
– Peanuts (unroasted and unsalted);
-Almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts and crushed corn (unroasted and unsalted);
-Small seeds of millet or oats, from Niger;
-Decomposed fruits (apple, withered pear, grape).

4/What is the ideal menu?

In feeders that are cleaned regularly to avoid epidemic outbreaks such as salmonellosis or trichomoniasis, especially during the freeze and thaw, birds will be offered “sunflower seeds and cracked corn. It is more diversified and more natural than the ball of fat in which oil is added while sunflower naturally contains lipids. The ball of fat can be used as a supplement in winter, to fatten up the bird, which will resist the cold better when the temperatures drop,” explains Benoît Viseux, project manager for wildlife mediation, in South West.

Avoid bread, which birds cannot digest, as well as very inexpensive seed mixtures made up of peas, lentils and rice, as well as biscuits for dogs and cats.

5/Why avoid net fat balls?

Birds can get their feet caught in nets and eventually starve or freeze to death. The best thing with fat balls is to place them in a different support that we will suspend high up, about 2 meters from the ground, on a tree branch for example.

6/Why shouldn’t they be given milk?

Give them water, water, and nothing but water! Birds cannot digest milk and milk can cause fatal digestive disorders. Only cooked dairy derivatives, such as cheese, can be given in very small quantities.

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