Kitchen Scraps For Birds
It is likely that you started feeding birds in your garden with kitchen scraps. Even if you now buy specialist bird food and suet cakes you can still supplement birds’ diet with leftovers from your kitchen which helps them add variety to their diet and means less waste for you.
Kitchen scraps can also provide wild birds with essential fats and carbohydrates that can be missing from specialist seed mixes which are especially important during the winter and nesting seasons when birds need as much energy as they can get.
Kitchen scraps can simply be placed on a bird table or ground feeder or they can be chopped up and added to feeder mixes. Alternatively you can mix them with suet and press into a plastic carton or coconut shell to make a simple fat feeder.
Many different types of food from the kitchen can be fed to the birds in your garden. Below are some of the most popular and others that you should avoid.
Stale bread, crusts, cakes and biscuits can all be fed to birds although don’t put out large quantities as they don’t have much nutritional value. Break up large pieces and soak any stale or dry pieces in a little water to prevent birds choking on them. Birds will also happily eat uncooked pastry as long as it is not overly sweet or salted.
Mild grated cheeses such as Cheddar are popular with birds; soft cheeses such as brie, blue cheeses such as Stilton and cream cheese aren’t suitable.
Birds will have difficulty digesting many raw vegetables but peas and sweetcorn are suitable as are leftover mashed or jacket potatoes. Remove the skins first.
Cooked pasta and rice are great sources of carbohydrates. Make sure the pieces are soft and small enough. Do not put out any leftover pasta that is coated in rich sauces or strong cheese.
Don’t put out raw meat for birds as most birds are unable to digest it. However, unsalted bacon, bacon fat, beef fat and marrow bones are an excellent source of protein if insects are in short supply.
Both wet and dry pet food for cats and dogs can be a healthy food source for birds. Dry food will need to be crushed or soaked before putting out as birds could choke on large pieces.
Birds will enjoy eating windfalls and bruised fruits. Leave the fruit on the ground for birds to peck away at or chop and add to feeders or place on the bird table. Soaked dried food are another popular food particularly with softbills.
Stale cereal and oats are tasty bird treats. Do not put out cereal with a high sugar or salt content or cereal that has been soaked in milk and do not put out cooked oats which can harden around a bird’s beak .
Peanuts, almonds, pecans and walnuts are all popular with birds. Do not offer salted nuts and chop the nuts into small pieces during breeding season so baby chicks cannot choke on them. Coconut halves can be hung up or filled with fat and seed.
Cooked eggs have many essential nutrients for birds and crushed egg shells provide calcium for nesting birds and grit to help with their digestion.
Ensure that the area where you feed your birds is kept clean to keep vermin such as rats away. Put out small quantities and sweep any debris from the ground. Birds will not eat food that has gone off so regularly clear away old food and disinfect the area to prevent the spread of bacteria.