Bird agencies are warning householders not to feed birds any of the leftover turkey fat this Christmas.
The RSPB said that many people believe they’re doing good putting out the old turkey dripping, whereas they could actually be doing birds harm.
Kirsi Peck, an RSPB wildlife advisor, said: “Please, please don’t use fat from roasting tins to feed garden birds because in this case you could be killing them with kindness. The juices mixed in roasting tins will go off very quickly and could cause disease on bird tables. Turkey fat could also damage feathers and during winter, they need to be in tiptop condition to keep them warm. But please do continue to support garden birds. There are loads of leftovers that are suitable.”
The key reasons for not putting out the meat leftovers are: turkey fat stays soft and can smear on to feathers destroying waterproofing and insulating qualities; turkey fat leftovers will contain lots of added salt which can be toxic for birds; leftovers in roasting tins go rancid quickly and can breed bacteria and birds can be prone to bacterial infection at this time of year anyway. The RSPB says it’s not just turkey fat that can be a problem, so please don’t put out any leftover meat fats.
The leftovers they do recommend include: Christmas cake crumbs, mince pie pastry crumbs, biscuit crumbs, mild non-salty grated cheese, cooked or uncooked rice or other grains, dry porridge oats, cooked potatoes and fruit.
This story first appeared in our January 5th issue.
The first issue of the New Year is a time for looking forward, but surely there’s time for a quick look back at 2010 first. Those of us who love birds are incredibly lucky because our memory banks are full of such vivid highlights. Can I share a couple of mine?
A lush tropical forest in the heart of Thailand, all peace and tranquillity except for the rather disquieting sight of fresh elephant dung on the trail! Early morning gloom inside the forest, but one patch of light on the path. Suddenly bounding into that patch, a dazzling jewel of a bird, electric blue with a rich reddish patch on the crown. Blue pitta, posing perfectly in a sunbeam! Suddenly I snapped to a memory of the previous pitta I’d seen, ground-foraging in the incomparable aviaries at Waddesdon Manor.
Then another early morning on a Thai hillside, glancing behind me and seeing a cock silver pheasant casually crossing the road. Near heart attack! A species I’d come to admire in collections and dreamed countless times of seeing in the wild.
So many bird memories, and I’m sure yours are just as precious. In this issue we’ve pooled our memories from the past year at Cage & Aviary Birds, and you can read them on page 4/5. Plenty of good news, some bad, some serious stuff and some that’s decidedly silly.
It may still be mid-winter, but of course birdkeepers are thinking about the breeding and show season to come. Some studs need a straightforward makeover – and who better to advise on this than Border canary great Dennis Reed, whose column is on page 12/13 this week. On the same pages, regular contributor Brian Keenan presents his blueprint for the future of exhibiting. A must-read, whether you agree with Brian or not. Let us know either way!
All of us at Cage & Aviary Birds hope you’ve had a happy Christmas, and wish you a prosperous and bird-filled year.