Which Christmas leftovers are suitable for birds - and which aren't

Birds feeding on a suet snowman

Our homes are full of festive food at this time of year as we prepare to welcome family members in to celebrate Christmas and here at CJ Wildlife, we know lots of you will want to provide for your garden birds too.

After all, they delight us with year-round visits and fun antics, plus their own wild food supplies are likely to be dwindling as the winter stretches on. However, tempting as it is to go out with a tray of Christmas leftovers, bird lovers need to be very careful about what they put on their feeding stations for their feathered friends to eat.

Although people assume that all the things we eat will be suitable for sparrows, robins and other species too, the truth is that some aren't - indeed, certain foods can be toxic, so people might unwittingly be harming these creatures.

To help you out in knowing what's okay to provide and what's not, we've put together this brief guide for festive food.

Absolute no-nos

We give birds fat balls, so therefore leftover turkey fat must be fine to pour into bowls - isn't it? Actually, the answer is a resounding no. The fat stays soft when it cools and so could cover birds' feathers, damaging their ability to stay warm.

Indeed, all leftover meat juices that we typically have at Christmas - including ham and goose - are unsuitable because they go off very quickly and can therefore become breeding grounds for bacteria, which could cause poisoning.

Snacks such as supermarket nuts, crisps and pretzels are also likely to be bad for birds because they usually have high levels of added salt, which is toxic, while chocolate is also poisonous because of the theobromine it contains.

Finally, despite bread being something many people throw out for their feathered friends, it isn't actually the best thing you can give them. Although it isn't dangerous, it doesn't contain many nutrients and so fills their stomachs up with empty calories, potentially reducing their ability to stay warm by burning energy.

Good to give at Christmas

Although cooked meat juices are bad, processed, uncooked fat is actually good for birds because it is full of calories. You can either put it out as it is, or squash it down with one of our seed mixes and suet or lard to make a bird-friendly Christmas dinner.

Other good treats include the crumbs from Christmas cake, mince pie pastry and biscuits, dry porridge oats, fruit and grated cheese (as long as it's mild).

Many people are also unaware that cooked roast potatoes are suitable for birds too. Just cut them into cubes and put them on your feeding stations.

Play it safe

Although you should now have a good idea about what's risk-free and what's dangerous for birds, you could always play it safe by purchasing food items that have been specifically designed with your little visitors in mind.

We stock a whole range here at CJ Wildlife, including fat balls that can be placed six at a time in our star feeders for a true festive feast on the big day. You can stand this on the balcony or patio too, which will give you an entertaining view of various species as you sit down for your own dinner.

We even have little suet treats shaped like snowflakes and snowmen, which are fun but really nutritious at the same time.

With this advice and our specialist products, you can treat the birds in your garden to their own Christmas - just don't forget to put out plenty of fresh drinking water for when they've finished.

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