I guess you could say that birds have it easy. Basically, any fruit that a human eats is going to be fine for a bird to eat. However, there is still important and informative information in regards to your backyard birds and fruits, apples in particular.
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Birds are also known to eat fruits that do not taste good to a human, and some that are toxic to a human.
All berries that grow on outdoor plants are delightful additions for a bird. This would include sumac, serviceberries, holly and juniper, among others. The berries humans eat that birds also enjoy include raspberries, blueberries, blackberries and currants.
Birds can and are the perfect Circle of Life assistants when it comes to berries. They can eat most berries whole, and when they defecate, the seeds may possibly grow into other berry producers just like the one they removed the berry from.
Citrus fruits are a slightly different story. These would need to be sliced, slit or gouged open so that the bird can reach the fruit with the piercing beak.
Birds actually enjoy sipping on the juices from many fruits. They have no qualms as to the freshness of the berries or fruit. If it is fresh, that is perfect, however, if the fruit or berries are overripe and leaning towards or already fermenting, the bird has no issue drinking that either.
You may not be imagining it if you think you see an intoxicated bird. Obviously, this is not going to be your first thought when you see a dizzy or wobbling bird, however, since they have no problem eating rotten or fermented fruits, it is possible they are intoxicated.
Fresh fruits will be the main attraction to birds and your yard. Apples in particular are one of a bird’s favourite fruits. The important aspect when it comes to fruits, and apples, in particular, is to not use any chemical sprays or pesticides when at all possible. This should be obvious that it will hurt the birds as well as any other animals that decide to nibble and eat it.
Apples should be peeled and sliced. For the sake of the birds, remove all the apple seeds also. It is not that the bird does not like the seed, they do. However, those small seeds can be highly toxic to all animals, birds especially.
Granted it would take numerous seeds to be fatal to the bird, however, eating even one seed puts the toxicity into their system, and the more seeds they eat, the more toxicity ends up in their delicate systems.
Giving to The Birds
If you want to be able to give the birds a variety, plant a wide variety of fruits trees and vines. When you can scatter the growing seasons, this enables the birds to have a continuous source of fruits throughout the year.
Obviously, the main point of growing fruit is not for the birds, however. You will need to find a manner in which to protect a good amount of the fruits for your own consumption. You can leave the fruit that falls to the ground for the birds, also the fruit that becomes overly ripe is not an issue for the birds. However, a mesh cage to keep birds away from all the fruit will come in handy if you intend to have fruit for your own consumption.
It can be extremely satisfying for a bird to fly to the bird feeder and find some fruit already there for them. Especially if you have been kind enough to remove some of the peelings and obviously the seeds.
A feeding station can be any type of feeder, including a suet cage. If you are handy, you can use a simple plank of wood with small chains attached to hang it. Any scrap wood laying around can be turned into a simple feeding station and hung in the air for the birds.
String feeders can be a pretty addition to your backyard. These are made simply by stringing fruit on a sturdy string and then hanging the string.
Yes, birds will enjoy dried fruits, including dried apples. However, in order to feed them dried apples, you will need to rehydrate the apples or other fruits in order for the birds to be able to eat them.
Birds should never be given any fruits that have added sugars or spices. They should not be given any chocolate-covered fruits either. Jams and jellies or preserves may be another acceptable fruit for your birds. However, do not give the birds any of these if there is any added sugar, any added chemicals or spices added in for flavour. These can be harmful to the birds.
Fresh fruit preserves are a favourite, in general, do not contain added sugars or chemicals. They have simply crushed fruits.
Then of course there are the obvious bits of advice to pass on. Before refilling any bird feeder or feeding station, the feeder or the station should have any previous fruit or apple bits removed and the feeder or feeding station should be washed and dried before adding fresh food or fruit into it.
There are those who say that windfall fruit is okay to leave out for the birds and animals, however, you do not want to leave it out and allow it to become mouldy or rancid. The birds that continue to grab bites off these fruits, or apples could become ill and that is not helpful to you or your backyard beauty to have birds dying in your yard.
Try to clean the fallen fruits or apples often to risk the birds or even the other animals becoming sick. These can simply be raked up and thrown into a compost pit or into a rubbish container.
For safety sake, you may decide to bring feeders indoors at night since nocturnal animals may decide to empty the feeders at night. When these nocturnal animals have the access to food, you will have continuous issues with them hanging around your yard.
Many times property owners will attach baffles or other means to attempt to keep the squirrels and other critters off the feeders and away from stealing the bird food.
When you place fruits into the bird feeders, it may bring diversity to your backyard. Think of it all this way, the birds love seeing multiple colours in the feeder when you use the variety of fruits to give to them, just as much as you love seeing the multiple colours of birds flying or perched in your backyard. Also, using some feeders or feeding stations for actual bird seed and some for fruits will add to the variety of birds and colours you see.
There are many types of birds that enjoy apples. The Eastern bluebird, the pine grosbeak, the grey catbird, Cardinals, Northern FlickersRobin, Tanager, the Cedar Waxwing and the gorgeous red-bellied woodpecker, all enjoy the apple for food.
As stated earlier, apple seeds are or will be toxic to birds. Obviously, it would take an amount to cause the toxicity, however, if a bird accidentally ate one or two seeds per day, that toxicity builds up faster.
It is so highly important to remove the seeds from the apples before putting the apples in the bird feeder or on a bird feeding station.
The peeling too should be removed. Many orchards will use pesticides or other chemicals to keep the pests off the apples. This residue of pesticides or chemicals is harmful to the birds. It is the same as poison and will build up in their systems and ultimately cause their demise.
This is easily dealt with by completely washing the apple, or even removing the skin and coring the apple to prevent the dangers from getting to the birds.
Cardinals actually love the apple skins. Since you are unable to control which birds feed at any of the bird feeders or feeding stations, it would probably be the best choice to simply scrub the apples clean and remove any of the pesticide residues from the apple skin and peelings. By doing so, you can enjoy watching the cardinals enjoy a treat also.
You may think that the bird will stop eating when it is full. I wish I could say that was the case. Birds do not understand moderation so it is up to you to do so for them. Our first thought would be to fill the bird feeder or place a large number of apple pieces on the feeding station, but that is not a good idea for a couple of logical reasons.
The birds will continue eating until the apple is gone. They do not know when to stop. It would be a better idea to add a little apple throughout the day and give other birds a chance at consuming some of the deliciousness.
Since not all birds migrate South, the birds, such as the robins that stick around with us in the cold and snowy areas would likely appreciate receiving apple bits throughout the entire year. Again, since you would be purchasing apples from your local supermarket, be sure to wash the apple really well to remove any residue from pesticides and chemicals. Core the apple and remove the seeds also.