Artificial food can include cheese, wild bird seed, peanuts, suet, oatmeal, moist bread, apples, bacon rind, meaty bones, dog food, cat food, nuts, cake, fresh fruit, raisins, sultanas, lard or cooking fat, barley grain and potatoes
Water for drinking and bathing. This could be a small pond, a container left on the bird table or an upturned dustbin lid on bricks
Bird table. This should be simple. Nail or attach with angle brackets a board c.40 - 60cm square to the top of a post which is c. 1.5 m above ground. Glue 4 strips of wood c, 3cm thick around the edges leaving small gaps at the ends for cleaning food off the table. Fix a metre length of plastic pipe, a metal funnel or an upturned biscuit tin to the post to prevent cats or rats from climbing it. A roof on the table will help to keep the food dry and will also help to deter magpies and rooks. Place it at least 2m away from trees and bushes. (Cats use these to prey on birds)
Moisten all bread, as birds find it difficult to digest dry bread.
Clean the bird table, if necessary. Uneaten food should be swept away and some boiling water poured over the table. (The latter activity should be done by an adult). A table should be moved to different locations to prevent a build-up of sources of infection.
Salted peanuts, crisps or ham should not be given to birds. Cooked porridge should also be avoided. It sticks inside birds and causes great distress.
Someone should be given responsibility for feeding birds during holiday time. If this isn't feasible, feeders should be filled to the brim with peanuts. Plenty of them should be left around the school. Lumps of fat could also be hung here and there. If neither of the above is practical, then feeding shouldn't commence until after the Christmas holidays. Once feeding has commenced, it is very important to continue until the end of March.
Don't overfeed birds. Uneaten food can cause disease and attract vermin.
During the winter
Caring for wild birds is an all year activity. A garden, well stocked with trees and shrubs such as rowan, cotoneaster, pyracantha, holly, ivy and hawthorn will cater for berry lovers such as thrushes A meadow area with wild grasses such as common bent and red fescue will attract the seed-eaters such as finches and sparrows. Wild flowers such as cow parsley, thistle, teasel, knapweeds and even docks will also provide lots of seed.
A pond is invaluable too for drinking and bathing
A log pile will be full of creatures for peckers such as wrens.
The coldest months of the year, however, need special attention. Birds lose a lot of their body fat at this time and need to regain it fast. Feeding birds artificially is one solution to this problem. Children love doing this. Many adults do too! It is a perfect time to observe birds closely, as they forage for the food laid out for them.
A good bird table will provide several types of feeding requirements for birds.
Food scattered on the table will attract sparrows, robins, bullfinches, greenfinches, chaffinches, doves, wood pigeons.
Hanging feeders with peanuts and/or seeds will attract tits, siskins, redwings, fieldfares and sparrows.
The ground area under the table will attract thrushes, blackbirds, wrens, fieldfares, redwings, and dunnocks. Uneaten apples and cooked potatoes should be brought indoors in the evening. This will help to deter rats.
Types of Hanging Feeders
A bird pudding made from nuts, seeds, bread crumbs, sultanas and lard, suet or fat is easy to make. Melt some lard, fat or suet in a pan. Mix the seeds etc, well with the melted substance. Pour the lot into a half coconut shell or a yogurt carton. Place a short stick in the mixture. When it is hard hang it from the table or a tree.
Make holes in a piece of narrow log with a drill. Fill these with melted suet. Hang it from a branch or table
Tie a string through whole peanuts. Hang it likewise
Mix chopped up bacon and bread, nuts, suet, sultanas, raisins and a lump of fat together in a bowl. Spoon the mixture into a net bag and tie at the top with a string. Hang it near the window or from the bird table.
A stout stick jammed between both sides of a window will serve as a suitable medium for hanging feeders.
Use empty, plastic, 2 litre drink bottles. Make holes in the top half with a hot poker. (This activity should be done by an adult only). The birds will peck the peanuts through the holes. Make two holes opposite each other in the bottom quarter to insert a bamboo perch. Do the same at the half-way mark and also in the shoulder, at the top. Make two holes in the bottom as well, to thread with a thin wire or cord, so that it can be hung from a bird table or tree. Unscrew the cap and fill it with peanuts.
Use an empty, 3 litre, plastic, drink bottle. Cut out a section as shown. Hang it from a table or tree with a string tied around the neck. This will keep the food dry. These ideas came from the C.S.I.'s-"Scout Skills Handbook". Published 1995.
Bird Table Visitors
Robin 2. Bluetit 3. Blackbird 4. Chaffinch 5. Great Tit 6. House Sparrow 7. Greenfinch 8. Starling 9. Coal Tit 10. Song Thrush