Treat the birds at Halloween

PUBLISHED: 16:29 30 November 2010 | UPDATED: 18:05 20 February 2013

Treat the birds at Halloween

Treat the birds at Halloween

Alexis Johnson, RSPB Field Studies Officer wants you to welcome feathered callers this Halloween

Treat the birds

Alexis Johnson, RSPB Field Studies Officer wants you to welcome feathered callers this Halloween

Late October brings Halloween and Halloween brings small children knocking on your door, requesting sweets. Or else.

But its not only small children we need to remember this Halloween October 30 also brings Feed the Birds Day, the RSPBs annual reminder of all the things we can do to help birds and other garden wildlife through
the winter.

Fortunately, birds, unlike small children, are rather sensible when it comes to over-indulgence. They shouldnt have to worry about upset tummies, unless of course, well-meaning folks feed them something dodgy by accident.

One way to avoid this is by planting a variety of shrubs, a hedge, climbers and trees to allow the birds a source of natural slow foods. Not only that, but theyll also provide shelter and safe nesting sites for the birds in the future.

Alder trees are great for attracting siskins, goldfinches and redpolls in winter while beech tree masts (nuts) are eaten by tits, chaffinches, bramblings, great spotted woodpeckers and nuthatches. Talk about a lot of bang for your buck!

Hawthorn can be a hedge or a clipped bush, but its best to leave it unclipped in order for the berries to develop to also provide food, in addition to cover, for our feathered friends. Hawthorn also provides
food for more than 150 different insect species (which, in turn, are eaten by birds, bats, frogs, etc), and is a very valuable addition to any wildlife garden.

Though all of the trees and shrubs mentioned thus far are lovely in their own way, lavender is my favourite. Its hardy enough to survive even the least green-thumbed gardeners, myself included. My advice is to plant it near a patio or path where its perfume can be appreciated as one brushes past. In addition to these benefits, the lavender flowers attract butterflies and bees, and seeds are taken by goldfinches.

If youre passionate about feeding the birds in your neighbourhood, you could even hand out bird seed to kids this Halloween! You might package it with a chocolate bar attached so as not to totally disappoint the ghosts and goblins.

If youre like me and feel a little guilty for filling up todays youth with sugar, spreading the word about Feed the Birds Day might be just what the doctor ordered.

That warm fuzzy feeling should keep you warm well into the next few months!

Fast food can be bad for our health, but fast food can also be dangerous to birds

Do: Try a peanut feeder this year. Peanuts are full of the fats and calories birds need to see them through the colder months. And if you have nut allergies, there are buggy or fruity mixes compatible with this wire mesh feeder

Do: Establish a feeding routine and try to stick to it. Birds will come to rely on your garden as a regular source of goodies dont let them down

Do: Buy high-quality bird seed mixtures from reputable dealers. The cheap stuff can contain split peas, beans, dried rice that only large birds can eat dry theyre added to bulk up the mix. Any mixture containing green or pink lumps should be avoided. They are bits of dog biscuit (which can only be eaten when soaked)

Dont: Buy salted peanuts, or put salt in bird baths. It can quickly dehydrate our feathered friends and waters not always easy to find during cold winter months

Dont: Peanuts and fat balls are regularly sold in soft nylon mesh bags. Never put out food in these they can trap birds feet and even cause broken or torn off feet and legs

Dont: Forget to clean your feeders and bird tables. Busy feeding stations are great for bird watching, but when a large number of birds are attracted into an area to feed, the danger of disease increases

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