How Best To Feed Backyard Birds?

Grevillea with lorikeet - 17
Wild birds love a varied diet and a menu that changes regularly encourages frequent visitation.

How best to feed backyard birds? Professor Darryl Jones from Griffith University, Queensland, has written the first sensible, science-based guide to feeding wild birds in Australia, says Paul Sullivan, the CEO of Birdlife Australia.

“Really, one of the most important things is keeping the feeder clean” says Professor Darryl Jones.

Every day the feeder needs to be swept clean with a brush, to remove any droppings or any food that hasn’t been consumed. The feeder then needs to be sterilised; you can do this by wiping it down with vinegar on a cloth and allowing it to dry in the sun.

This needs to be done before feeding every time, to prevent the feeder spreading disease among local birds.

The story ‘To feed or not to feed?’ by ABC Television’s  Gardening Australia programme Series 31, Episode 14 (screened 9.5.2020)  highlights the fundamental steps required to feed birds and also how to prevent the spread of avian disease.

bird feeding food
Healthy bird food, clockwise from top left: 1. wild bird food bought from a pet store. 2. frozen peas. 3. dry dog food. 4. frozen fruit.

It’s a fact that certain wild bird species use suburban and city gardens to forage but they don’t depend on our gardens completely, they use them to supplement their diet.

You might be surprised to learn that parrots absolutely love blueberry, raspberries, chopped apple and even frozen peas.

If you feed birds ‘wild bird seed’ there are many blends. Choose one with at the most variety in seed sizes and types. Buy seed mixes from a pet store, not from a supermarket because supermarket mixes lack variety and usually contain unhealthy sunflower seed of the kind grown for making sunflower oil and which can make birds obese.

Feeding the Birds by Prof Darryl Jones
It’s incredible that the first science-based guide to feeding Australian birds was only recently published.

And while hungry birds will eat unhealthy food, Professor Jones’ book ‘Feeding the Birds at Your Table’ provides detailed advice and suggestions for keeping those birds fit, trim, well nourished and coming back for more.

Birds eat a variety of food every day. Simply by changing the range of food you put out daily can entice a variety of different birds to visit out of curiosity just so they can check out the latest menu.

Professor Jones’ book is a handy, easy to read yet detailed guide for people who wish to help not harm wild birds in Australia. An excellent gift to help people bring life into their balcony or garden:

Jerry Coleby-Williams
10th May 2020

3 Comments Add yours

  1. Lynda Grimshaw says:

    Thanks Jerry for the information feeding native birds. I love to see birds in the garden. I did see the story on Gardening Australia and am pleased to get the ingredients so I can now give it to my birds.Thanks for your inspirations on gardening, love all your articles whatever they may be. Cheers Lynda.

    1. Many thanks Lynda. Happy gardening – and happy birds! Jerry 🙂

  2. margot brulotte says:

    Sad with the virus we could not come up again to visit your garden. Keep up the great work.

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