Publicity surrounding a study showing the risks of disease to garden birds may have caused people to wonder whether they should continue feeding them.
However, the study – led by scientists from conservation charity ZSL (Zoological Society of London) – does not state that people should stop feeding the birds in their gardens, and indeed it makes clear that there are many benefits to doing so.
It is essential to take simple, practical measures to minimise the risk to the birds we love.
To assist you the Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife Trust’s official bird food partner Vine House Farm has a section on its website about hygiene and with an outline of some of the more common diseases and how to help prevent garden birds contracting them.
This is a summary of their expert guidance on the subject:
As well as bird food, Vine House Farm also sells a range of feeder hygiene products to help you.
It is so important to keep feeding the birds in your garden. Much of our landscape has been stripped of natural food for birds though intensive farming and development. Indeed, research shows that insect numbers have dropped by a staggering 45% in the last 35 years.
So, keep feeding the birds in your garden as the benefits far outweigh the negatives - but equally please do everything possible to ensure they remain in healthy condition.
Photograph: A good example of how feeding the birds in your garden can help their populations is the goldfinch. Numbers have almost doubled in recent years with the BTO citing increased availability of sunflower hearts and niger seed in peoples’ gardens as the main reason. (c. Nicholas Watts, www.vinehousefarm.co.uk)
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