With thanks to Christian Doyle for the words and pictures
“More good stuff for the table today but just for the birds this time. Arundel WWT gave a bird feeding demonstration along the lines of Ready Steady Cook. The audience was given a red tomato and a green pepper card while two teams of chefs squashed and mashed together various seeds, nuts and berries, working against the (imaginary) clock. We even had the ’TEN, NINE, EIGHT …’ shout out when all food had to be plated up ready for the feeders.
The point of the talk was to show how cheap and easy it is to make food to attract and nourish your garden birds during the winter months when their little bodies need fuel to stay alive. Providing lard or cheese based cakes in feeders or smeared onto tree barks and hollows is a vital part of maintaining bird populations.
I knew that peanuts were a good source of protein, but didn’t realise that it’s better for the birds to have them without husks because of the extra energy needed to get at the nut inside. Leaving any empty husks on the ground encourages rats and mice as well.
Other ingredients on the menu were sun-flower seeds, peanut butter, grated apples, glace cherries, holly and hawthorn berries and niger seeds – tiny black shiny things which are from the teasel flower head and in plentiful supply round here; they are particularly attractive to goldfinches.
The talk was only half an hour long so it was suitable for young children as well as their parents. There was a lively discussion afterwards from the adults and a promise from the chefs to hold more talks perhaps later in the afternoon for school-age children who I think would love to get stuck in.”