‘Safe’ peanuts shortage fear

PEOPLE like to feed wild birds throughout the year-– not just during the critical winter months - in order to keep birds in their gardens.

However, those regularly buying peanuts face a shortage of supplies and higher prices so the RSPB has put forward some alternative ideas.

Peanut suppliers to the RSPB have warned that less will be available due to increased demand for domestic consumption in certain exporting countries as they become wealthier. And the nil-detectable aflatoxin peanuts that the RSPB demands – on the basis of safety to birds – will apparently be in particularly short supply.

But the wildlife charity says that garden birds need not go hungry as there are plenty of other beneficial alternatives to peanuts. And some of them may even be better at this time of year as they are smaller and easier for baby birds to digest so there is less risk of choking. They are also less prone to pricing fluctuations as they are produced closer to home than peanuts.

Other suitable bird foods suggested by the RSPB include:

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Sunflower hearts – these are oil and protein rich and suitable for feeding from seed feeders, bird tables and on the ground. They appeal to a wide range of birds such as greenfinches, goldfinches, blackbirds and house sparrows.

Suet and fruit nibbles with mealworms and/or raisins are attractive to most garden birds.

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Fruit nibbles made with suet and raisins are also nibbles contain plenty of fruit and are also attractive to most species. Nyjer seed - a highly nutritious seed which is a favourite with goldfinches, greenfinches and siskins.

The RSPB is warning that some peanuts could be high in aflatoxin, a natural toxin which can kill birds. Buying from a reputable dealer is essential.

ANIMALS’ right to privacy is being denied by makers of television wildlife documentaries according to new research carried out at the University of East Anglia. A report by Dr Brett Mills argues that while wildlife programmes can play a vital role in engaging citizens in environmental debates, they inevitably deny many species the right to privacy.

Dr Mills analysed the making of documentaries accompanying the BBC wildlife series called Nature’s Great Events.

He suggests that production teams use newer forms of technology to overcome species’ desire not to be seen and he questions the ethics of such practices.

THE VITAL role of England’s peatlands in combating climate change has been emphasised in a Natural England report. It says that almost three quarters of the deep peat area in England is now damaged, degraded or inappropriately managed. Peat soil stores a huge amount of carbon - a major contributor to climate change - and is one of our best assets in fighting climate change, the report argues.

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