Northern Ireland’s garden birds could lose out if people are tightening their purse strings, the RSPB has warned.
The wildlife group has appealed to people to keep filling up their bird tables and feeders with high quality bird food — and if not, to choose kitchen scraps instead of cheap seed mixes that offer little nutritional value.
Uncooked porridge oats, cake crumbs, grated cheese, soft or over-ripe fruits and cooked potatoes are the best kitchen scraps to help birds survive the winter, the RSPB said.
RPSB spokesman Stephen Harris said: “Birds feast on natural foods such as berries, fallen fruits and insects during autumn. Supplies of these are not limitless, however. Birds are increasingly reliant on us to provide food to get them through the cold winter nights.”
Garden favourites such as robins, blackbirds and finches have come to rely on feeders and tables as fast and easy food.
Birds use most of their energy just surviving the cold nights and human support is essential in making sure they stay alive.
“Providing good quality bird food is the best way of helping,” Stephen said.
“When money is tight you can put out kitchen scraps that are high in nutritional value. These are much better for the birds than cheap seed mixes which have little energy content.”
However, people should avoid putting out bread, which has low nutritional value and is more of a filler, salted food which is bad for birds’ nervous systems, polyunsaturated fats or vegetable oils which can make feathers less waterproof, milk which can’t be digested and desiccated coconut, which can swell inside a bird, causing it to die. A clean supply of fresh water is also essential, the RSPB said.