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Bird-friendly school ground – What food to provide
Propriety mixtures are already widely available for wild birds and many of them you can order online. Different mixes haves have been formulated for feeders and table/ground feeding. The better mixtures contain plenty of flaked maize, sunflowers seeds and broken peanuts. If a mix contains whole peanuts, please use it only in winter. Small seeds, such as millet, attract mostly house sparrows, dunnocks, finches, reed buntings and collared doves while flaked maize is taken readily by blackbirds and dunnocks. Tits and greenfinches favour peanuts and sunflower seeds. Pinhead oatmeal is excellent for many birds. Wheat and barley grains are often included in seed mixtures but they are really only suitable for pigeons, doves and pheasants, which feed on the ground and rapidly increase their numbers, frequently deterring the smaller species and upsetting those that may live close to the school grounds. Avoid seed mixtures that contain split peas, beans, dried rice of lentils as, again, only the large species can eat them dry. Any mixture containing green or pink lumps should also be avoided as this is dog biscuit, which can only be eaten when it has been soaked.
Black sunflower seeds
These first appeared in the bird food market in the early 1980s and in many areas have now become even more popular with birds than peanuts.
These are rich in fat and are popular with tits, greenfinches, house sparrows, nuthatches, great spotted woodpeckers and siskins – although as mentioned above, black sunflower seeds are now a preferred food in many gardens. You can buy peanut kernel (whole, broken or sliced) for wild birds. Also, peanut granules are popular. Crushed or grated nuts attract robins, dunnocks and even wrens. Nuthatches and coal tits may hoard peanuts and black sunflower seeds. Salted peanuts should not be used. Peanuts can be high in a natural toxin, called aflatoxin, that can kill birds, so buy from a reputable dealer who will guarantee that the food is free from this. If a number of birds start dying or looking ill, please telephone BirdLife Partner in your country for an advise. Please note: some schools now ban peanut products because of children with severe allergic reactions to nuts. Please check the situation in your school before introducing bird foods containing nuts.