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Feeding the Birds – Views from the Greenhouse

Table laid, plates warming in the oven and I‘m waiting for Adrian to arrive for our Wednesday gardening night plus a Fish and Chip supper.  I am sure when he gets here that he will agree that it is too cold and wet for greenhouse work. So I have an idea that as we will be fed and watered then we should plan the same for the birds.

You can buy bird food and there are lots of different mixtures but tonight I think we will have some fun preparing some ourselves. Still waiting for Adrian so I will hunt around and see what we can use. Also if you have children or grandchildren they will have a great time taking part. It is a pleasure to sit watching them visit your garden. So when Adrian arrives we will decide what we can do.

Supper finished now down to work – Adrian is pleased that we are not going to be in the greenhouse, although he did go to inspect the progress of the sweet peas that we sowed a few weeks ago – very pleased.

We start by raiding the peanuts that I bought for Christmas. Adrian has begun by pricking a hole in the middle of each peanut with a large needle. I’ve put a button on the end of a wire so that he can then thread the wire through the peanuts. You can then bend it into any shape that you want – we have made ours into a garland. Perfect – we should have made lots of these and given them as Christmas presents.

Now what else can we make?
Adrian has suggested that we make some fat balls – make sure you do not use liquid fat or margarine as they can work as a laxative for the birds. Use unused solid fat.

What you need – Lard/Suet – dried fruit and/or nuts and seeds.

To make – Melt approximately 1.5 kg of lard in a pan. The grease should not be too liquefied or hot. Add a kilo of bird food or a homemade mixture of fruit and nuts. Stir well and leave until slightly set, then mould into shapes – you can use old milk cartons or yogurt pots to make it easier. If you want them for hanging, make a hole through the middle so that you can run a piece of string through. Finally let them cool down in the fridge or freezer and they are then ready to hang outside. The mixture can also be used for stuffing apples. Cut an apple in half, form a grove by removing the core from both pieces. Pour some of the above mixture into the grove and leave to cool – stuffed apples for the birds, how cool is that?

What else have we in the pantry to use?

  • Tits, blackbirds and thrush all love fruit, especially apples and pears.
  • Starlings like to eat boiled potatoes with high protein value.
  • House sparrows and starlings enjoy dry rice.
  • Wrens love dry cheese.

Lots of people put out dry bread for the birds, but this is actually not very nutritious because of the lack of necessary proteins and fats. If it goes mouldy before eaten remove it from the table as this can cause bacteria to form which is not good for the birds.

Before Adrian goes home I have another job for him – Hope he’s up for it. Yes, he’s outside now cleaning the bird table with warm water and mild soap. It is important to keep the feeding place clean – remove old food or fat balls as they can easily go mouldy if the temperature is above 7 degrees.

Also remember that birds need shelter in the winter. A birdhouse provides protection against the cold and a nesting place for spring.

Well, looks as if I have to go shopping again so whilst I leave Adrian to clear up the mess I’ll make a list to replace the Christmas fayre that we have used, but at least it will all go to a good cause!

KEEPING THE BIRDS IN YOUR GARDEN FED AND WARM OVER THE WINTER MONTHS!

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