Food purchased from a company such as Haith’s may have sufficed during the winter months but can now be usefully supplemented in various ways. Supplements vary widely. They can, of course, be ordered from the company. Alternatively, especially now that we are all confined, additional appetising food items can be concocted from produce in the kitchen - such as a slice of apple (much favoured by some finches) or boiled egg. Even the eggshell can be used. Dried and crushed and then mixed with seed, eggshell provides an extra boost of calcium – important for all birds, but especially for females (hens) as they enter the breeding season.
These dandelion heads look healthy, but why is the chickweed so dry and wilting? It is probably
just desiccated following the hot weather, but spraying cannot be excluded
Wild food is now becoming freely available in the form of such “weeds” as dandelions, groundsel and chickweed. These can be collected by the roadside, on one’s daily walk, as well as from rough, waste, areas of ground, both in town and in the country. There appear to be more such plants growing than one would expect at present, probably a result of less traffic and reduced clearing and cutting of the roadside verges. The spraying of land with herbicidal and other chemicals is also likely to be less widespread now but, as every experienced bird-keeper knows, it is always good practice to wash leaves and seed heads from wild plants in cold running water before offering them to birds.
A roadside junction where various “weeds”, many suitable for feeding birds, grow undisturbed
probably with glyphosate (“Roundup”). Avoid collecting wild plants in such an area
Examining droppings (in this case from a pigeon), using a hand-lens
When cleaning a cage or nest box, be sure to observe the droppings carefully – a hand-lens/ magnifying glass can help. Remember that changes in the white (urate) portion of the dropping may indicate a problem with the kidneys while alterations in the dark part reflect what is happening in the bird’ intestinal tract.
Photo courtesy of Chris Snell
I shall write about getting access to veterinary advice in “Tips” “no 3”.
John E Cooper FRCVS
Veterinary Advisor to Haith’s.