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30 Jan 2017
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Feeding and caring for wild birds
Loving Birds
We’re Loving Birds at Millbrook and we want to do our best to help them not just survive a cold winter, but to flourish so they can look forward to a healthy, productive year.

  Around the Centres you’ll see lots of informational signage on how to care for birds, how to attract particular birds to your garden and plants birds love, plus there are lots of exciting bird-related events coming up, such as our educational and informative bird talks with Maureen Rainey from Kent Wildlife Trust (Crowborough – Saturday, 25th February - book now!) and our exciting make and take workshops for children during the half-term break (Gravesend, Crowborough, Staplehurst). Click on the relevant links for your local Centre. In the meantime, we've answered some common bird questions, so have a read of what you can do to help our feathered friends, below.

What can cause a food shortage for wild birds?
A late Spring, wet weather, frozen earth and other environmental events can all cause problems for birds foraging for food. A lack of insects, berries and seeds can mean birds are competing over less food and only the fittest (without intervention) will survive.

I’ve heard you shouldn’t feed wild birds as it creates a dependency. Is this true?
This is a common myth. Birds won’t just lose their ability to source food for themselves if food is artificially provided. Research has shown that birds are wide-ranging foragers and visit a number of food sources, but it is a
good idea to continue to feed them if you’ve started, as they will always appreciate your offerings! 


What are the benefits to feeding wild birds?
 - Feeding can reverse declining populations by increasing the amount of birds who survive through the winter            months.
- Birds arrive in Spring in a better physical condition than if their food had been scarce.
- Attracted by food, in Summer they pollinate flowers by spreading nectar.
- We can observe birds’ behaviour and wonderful colours up close – brilliant for teaching children about our natural     world. We can learn how to attract a variety of types of birds with different foods and
  how to recognise them from their plumage and birdsong.
- Birds eat weed seeds.
- Bird-watching is relaxing and therefore good for reducing stress levels.


  What sort of food should I feed them?
Birds will visit your garden if you have plenty of food, water and cover. Plant bushes and shrubs that bear berries, such as Malus, Sorbus, Cotoneaster, Pyracantha, Hawthorn, Holly, Honeysuckle and Guelder Rose, they will
all provide a natural source of food for birds. Of course, there are lots of different kinds of bird food you can buy, too. Millbrook has a huge variety of both feeders and feed to choose from. Everything from fat-based foods to peanuts, to seeds. Each type of food is best served in its own type of feeder and there are lots of types available. Cover is also important. Think about where you site the feeders as birds need to keep a watchful eye out for predators.

  Should I feed them different things at different times of year?
As food shortages can occur at any time of year, birds will appreciate extra food year-round. During Winter, birds need high fat foods to maintain their reserves during the cold weather. Fat balls and fat-based food bars are perfect for this time of year, just don’t forget to remove the mesh bags before putting them out as these can be harmful to birds. High protein foods such as mealworms, food bars and seed mixtures are good in the Spring and
Summer months when birds are moulting. The RSPB advises not to feed birds peanuts or the fat-based products during this time as they can be harmful to nestlings.

  Do different birds like different food?
Yes, birds do have different preferences when it comes to food. See below for a guide:

House sparrows, dunnocks, reed buntings, collared doves, finches: Small seed, such as millet 
Blackbirds: Flaked maize: 
Tits, greenfinches, house sparrows, nuthatches, great spotted woodpeckers and siskins: Peanuts and sunflower seeds
Robins, dunnocks, wrens: Crushed or grated peanuts: 
Pigeons, doves and pheasants: Wheat and barley grains:  
Goldfinches, siskins: Nyjer seeds 
Robins, blue tits, pied wagtails: Mealworms 
Tits: Insect cakes 
Finches: Berry cakes 
Wrens: Animal fat (finely chopped) and mild grated cheese 
Starlings: Peanut cakes 
Thrushes and blackbirds: Fruit 
    Millbrook family special bird offers for February
Spend £50 and you’ll be treated to a free large heavy duty stainless steel seed or fat snax feeder worth £12.99 (pictured left).
Save £2 on slate roof multi nest box, was £6.99 now £4.99
Half price bird feeding station, was £24.99, now £12.49
Save £5 on mealworm 1.2kg pouch, was £21.99, now £16.99
BOGOF suet feasts (Berry, mealworm, peanut, seed & insect), £2.49 each

For lots of brilliant help and information on caring for birds, please visit the RSPB website.

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