I was scrunching up old newspapers to start a fire last night (reading as I went along, as one does) and came across an article in the ODT with the following opening line -
The kindness of strangers may be leading to the untimely deaths of some of our native birds... Mixing sugar and water together may not seem like a recipe for disaster but left for several days could be deadly for unsuspecting nectar-feeding tui and bellbirds, Russell Evans of Invercargill said. 'We could be killing them through our kindness...'
I immediately went outside to my bird feeder and brought the sticky-but-empty (yay - the birds know to come daily now) sugar water bowl inside for a good scrub. Over the weekend, a kind, bird-savvy friend gifted my feathered visitors a rather ecclesiastical drinking chalice he'd made out of a coconut shell; I figured out how to unhook that and brought it in for a wash, too.
I must admit I'm tempted to genuflect and sign myself when I walk past this neat little coconut cup on my way to the bird tray each morning; the way it's bracketed onto the old tree trunk reminds me of the little troughs that carry holy water at the entrance to churches.
Photograph: Gail Bouton
Important to note is that if we don't keep the sugar water good and clean and fresh tra la la, we're at risk of giving our precious native birds a range of potentially fatal infections; aspergillus (respiratory disease caused by a fungus infection), salmonella and candidiasis amongst these. So, let's take care...
* Dissolve one cup of sugar in two cups of water.
* Put out just enough sugar water to last for a day
* Wash the container each day
* Sit back and wait for the birds to take their place
at the banquet table.