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How to feed fat to birds

Birds, like any other animal, need a certain amount of fat in their diet. During winter, it can be hard for them to source food without using up a lot of energy. This is the time when leaving out a food source, including fat, can be very beneficial and will provide a much-needed energy boost in the cold.

However, there are a couple of dos and don’ts when it comes to feeding wild birds fat. Here are some pointers:

Pure is best

When it comes to fat, try to stick to suet and lard, which is 100% fat and therefore not a bacterial breeding ground. Suet cakes and fat balls are great and can be left in feeders and on bird tables. Just remember that other creatures will be attracted to them as well. You can make your own suet cakes by blending suet with seeds, nuts or berries.

Don’t leave out the roast meat fat

Well-meaning bird lovers often leave out a roasting tin full of meat juices and fat, thinking it will give the garden birds a nutritious boost. There are, however, a couple of problems with this. Firstly, it is a breeding ground for bacteria, as meat juices are mixed in with the fat. Secondly, as it stays soft even when cooled, the fat can smear on the birds’ feathers – this applies to cooking oils and margarines too. Smearing can destroy a bird’s waterproofing and insulation.

In summary, stick to the likes of fat balls and suet cakes and leave the cooking fats to the food recycling bin. Once the birds realise you are providing a nutritious feast, they will soon come to your garden for a visit.

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