Friday, January 11, 2008

Low Carb is for the Birds!

I have always tried to be kind to little woodland creatures (well, except squirrels, they are evil and often trash my garden). I thought I was doing a good thing by putting out bread for all the little birds that live outside my office. Turns out I was doing them the same disservice I was doing myself by turning to carbohydrates.

Several wildlife sites warn of the dangers of feeding bread to wild birds.

"Bread and other processed foods are not part of a bird's natural diet and may lead to malnutrition from eating foods with little or no nutritional value. The balance of fiber, fats, micronutrients, carbohydrates and protein in a bird's natural diet is radically different from a scavenged diet consisting mostly of human food."

"DO NOT FEED BREAD - bread is often the first kind of food humans give to birds but, especially in the winter when there is little other food available, birds receive very little nutrition from bread and may die from a diet high on bread as this can cause malnutrition."

So just like I have taken myself off of the unhealthy carbohydrates, I have taken the birds off as well. Instead, I have replaced the bread, muffins, and bagel pieces with suet.

Suet is actually beef fat. Why would a bird eat beef fat? Because this fat replaces the energy birds usually get from insects.

"fat plays a very important role in both human and avian diets. Along with protein and carbohydrates, fat is one of the three dietary sources of calories - or energy. Fats are concentrated forms of energy and, per unit weight, provide more than twice the caloric energy as protein or carbohydrates of equivalent weight. This is very important for birds because their metabolisms are extremely accelerated. Fat energy helps them sustain activity levels longer between meals." (more)

Suet feeder just outside my office window and one of the "regulars".

Mixed with seeds, nuts and berries, a suet cake is just what those little birds need to thrive though a Colorado winter. You do your neighborhood feathered friends a great favor by getting them off of sugar and carbs. Save the unhealthy bread and donuts for the evil squirrels.

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