Our sanctuary is currently home to a huge number of water fowl. Some are year round residents and some are exotic visitors from foreign climbs so this is the perfect time of year to have a wander round the lakes and see a huge variety of shapes and colours when some of our other animals are more inclined to stay tucked up in the warm and out of sight! The Winter can be hard going for wildlife due to a combination of needing to eat plenty to keep warm by burning calories and a general scarcity of food.
We all want to do our bit (and our guests on the lake can be particularly demanding!) but please never, ever feed bread to water fowl and birds.
Although its a common childhood memory for most of us and something we may want to do with our own children, please don't! Uneaten bread rots and pollutes the water and attracts rats. Bread that is digested has almost zero nutritional content for birds and so fills them up but doesn't give them the vital minerals, fats and vitamins they need.
In extreme cases, it causes a horrible condition called 'Angel Wing'. Although this sounds pretty, it actually causes the wing feathers to become malformed resulting in birds being less able to fly, preen and escape predation from foxes and other animals. You can see this in some of the birds we have on site, as in the picture below.
Both geese have a bad case of Angel Wing; the feathers should not be sticking out like they are and its tragically all the result of a poor diet!
At Raystede we have a large grain dispenser which we keep packed full of delicious, healthy corn specifically so that our visitors can enjoy interacting with our gorgeous birds by feeding them. Corn takes longer for birds to digest so it means they will produce more heat, especially overnight, to help keep them toasty warm. If you can pop a few pennies into the dispenser to help with the cost, we would really appreciate it but most of all we just want the birds to be safe and our visitors to enjoy spending time with them in a way that's safe and beneficial to everyone.
If you want to attract wild birds to your garden, you can buy everything you need from our Visitor Information centre. Wild birds needs change with the seasons, so we don't stock anything in the Spring and Summer months that would potentially be harmful to chicks when birds are breeding.
Feeding them year round can be a rewarding way of helping wildlife in your area and if you're patient, you will start to see a huge variety coming to your garden. Our team are always happy to help and advise if you have any questions. Please just ask!