The Robin by Stephen Moss
How to help our garden birds is important, as it’s a way to protect native species who give us beautiful birdsong and work with harmony in nature. However, sometimes it’s good to just leave well alone. Obviously don’t encourage birds to your garden if you live with cats (keep them inside at dawn and dusk, when birds are feeding). Also see posts on how to stop birds flying into windows and a beginner’s guide to birds’ nests (what NOT to give like hair, string, pet fur, lint with chemicals etc).
- Garden organically (including your lawn). This helps birds find natural food, and keeps nature in balance (they will eat up insects and grubs). An organic garden is safer for all the family (lawns with chemicals have higher rates of bladder cancer in dogs, even from neighbouring gardens).
- Avoid having foliage near your window, as birds often fly towards it, thinking it’s a tree. See how to stop birds flying into windows. There are good inventions around, but window decals are not great, as you need to cover the entire window, for most to work.
- Don’t leave out garden string or cut hair/fur for nests, as it can often strangle or contain harmful chemicals. Birds have been building nests for thousands of years, they can do it without our help.
- It’s best for birds to find natural food, so they don’t rely on you, in case you are no longer around. If you already feed them, gradually reduce feed in summer months when there is plenty of food around, and only feed if you know they have no natural food.
- Never feed nuts to baby birds, nor buy those mesh bags with nuts and seeds, as they tear tiny hands and feet.
- If you feed birds, use quality feeders (don’t use wooden bird tables near cats, as they can claw up the wood).
Should You Feed Leftover Bread to Birds?
It’s not good to give too much leftover bread to birds, as they come to rely on us. Never give dry (toast) or mouldy bread, nor anything with (grease, butter) as it clogs feathers.
Artificial feeding wildfowl at ponds, encourages them near roads and dogs. Again, most wildfowl are fairly adept at finding their own food (mostly underwater) and uneaten bread on water causes algae, which can cause disease. If you do feed them, then just give tiny amounts of fresh (soaked) wholemeal bread, tinned/defrosted sweetcorn or peas or torn lettuce, cabbage or spinach.
Swan Sanctuary says not to suddenly stop feeding wildfowl as they could starve. Just gradually reduce food in summer, when there is plenty of natural food around (and throw food on the water, so birds stay in their natural environment and won’t choke on dry bread).