Many birds, including the common House Sparrow, are decreasing worldwide. Today, our farms are full of poisonous pesticides and insecticides. Birds are finding it increasingly difficult to find food and water for their day-to-day requirements. Birds need extra water in winters and summers as their food has less water content in it and the natural sources are also scarce. Birds eat aphids, weevils, grasshoppers and caterpillars to feed their young and these may now be harder to find in our towns and cities. Feeding birds daily will go a long way in conservation of birds. Feeding birds in the garden is a popular activity the world over. In India, we have been feeding birds for ages. People enjoy seeing wild birds up close. It is an easy way to start teaching children about wildlife.
It is important that we feed birds responsibly and safely. By following a few simple guidelines, we can all play a valuable role in helping the birds that visit gardens to overcome periods of natural food shortage and be in good breeding condition.
Ideally, food should be provided all year round for birds, but in winter and summer, birds need us more as their natural food and water sources decrease.
Feeding birds by using a feeder helps in maintaining hygiene, avoids wastage of grains, and helps birds get a continuous source of food all year.
Hygiene is important. Clean up spilt grain and uneaten food; this will reduce the spread of disease. During the rainy season, keep the feeders in places where they will not come in contact with water. Installing feeders near bushes reduces predation by birds but provides a hiding place for cats.
Water is important to birds, both for drinking and for bathing. so it should be changed every day. Don’t feed birds stale or oily food or whole wheat. Birds enjoy bajra (pearl millets), rice and ground nuts. Cooked rice (without salt or spices) and oil-free chapati can also be fed to them.
Birds also enjoy eating fruits like papaya, banana, and sweet lime. If you start feeding birds, dont stop abruptly as they come from faraway places for the food. Feeding birds will help you watch and study birds of different kinds from your locality. Try to put the feeders in an area with few disturbances. Feeders can be placed even in windows of flats. Dont worry if you dont get birds immediately. Sometimes, it takes 8 to 10 days for birds to identify a new food source.
Decreasing sources of food are reducing numbers of many species of birds including common House Sparrows.
Write to us and share your experiences in feeding birds, if you know about different ways to attract birds, or if you need any help.