Some tips to feed the birds in his garden (or balcony)

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That one who has never enjoyed spying behind the curtain of a window the shimmering feathers of a tit, a robin or a big beak raises his hand. A bucolic image somewhat tainted by the terrible decline of insects worldwide contributing to the equally dizzying fall of the country birds in France. Remember: Europe lost nearly 80% of its insects in less than 30 years, according to a study published late 2017, leading to the disappearance of more than 400 million oviparous yet essential to the balance of ecosystems. Here are some practical tips to still hope to observe in his garden or on his balcony.

Read also : And if you count the birds (it changes sheep)?

When to feed them?

The League for the Protection of Birds (LPO) that we contacted, advocates winter feeding, from mid-November to the end of March. Period when birds need to compensate for high energy losses due to cold weather and very short days. It is also a season when food is scarce, sometimes inaccessible because of snow or ice. While some countries, like England, advocate year-round feeding, arguing that this would increase nest productivity, the LPO has approached its own scientific and technical council to study the issue.

Where to dispose of the feeder and the trough?

The association advises to use "table" or "tray" standing feeders and to arrange them well in sight, without nearby bushes, in the middle of a lawn, for example. It allows the birds to see the possible predators. Note that there are kinds of harrows that prevent cats from climbing tree trunks and the foot of the feeders. Those silo type "automatic vending machines" of seeds can be directly suspended on the branches of the trees as well as the railing of a balcony, details one of the organizers of the LPO Refuges program to preserve local biodiversity. Clean them regularly. Above all, do not spread food on the ground, it promotes the proliferation of diseases and attracts pigeons (domestic pigeon), which feeding is prohibited in the private courts and in town by prefectural orders. Also be careful not to place the feeders too close to a bay window to avoid any risk of collision, unless you apply stickers in the form of silhouettes. Finally, do not forget to have a free water point, a bowl-shaped drinking trough, in summer as well as in winter.

What kind of food?

In winter, garden sparrows (the largest family of birds, many of which are considered "singers") mainly look for high-fat seeds. The most suitable, according to the LPO: sunflower seeds, peanuts / peanuts (attention, not roasted and unsalted), millet, crushed corn, seeds of nyger (small black seeds very rich in lipids), the buns of fat (avoid those containing palm oil of course). It is also advisable to ban bread, cakes, cheese crusts and to look at the composition of certain "bird of heaven" mixtures available in supermarkets. Indeed, some are not suitable for wild birds in our regions, especially those containing peas, lentils, wheat …

If you want to attract titmice, woodpecker, Eurasian Nuthatch or elegant Goldfinch, on the advice of Nicolas Macaire of the LPO Refuges program, opt for sunflower, nyger and peanuts. Grease loaves are best for "acrobatic" birds (tits, woodpeckers and nuthatches). Fine-tipped birds, such as the familiar robin, the mouchet accent, will instead take small seeds (millet) at the foot of the feeders. Finally, some species collect the pulp of withered fruits (apples, pears, grapes), such as blackbirds, thrushes, blackcap and sometimes tits.

Ethical feeding is possible?

Short circuits and local structures, in which the LPO is supplied, are recommended. "There is organic sunflower, produced by local COOP (sacks of organic seeds). Palm oil (a vector of deforestation in Indonesia and Amazonia) is banned from our fat bars. Recycled fats (beef tallow and pork fat) are used. "

Aurore Coulaud

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