Monday, March 24, 2014

Mindful Monday: No Salt for Wildlife

This post starts the beginning of a series intended to help readers be a bit more mindful or educated about the topic.  Topics will include anything concerning the world around us as it pertains to the environment, healthy gardening, chickens, cooking and preserving, teaching children through play (on aforementioned topics).  You get the idea.

Today we're going to talk about salt and birds.

Every one likes to toss the wild birds pieces of bread,  popcorn, and other miscellaneous snacks.  But did you know that salt is BAD for the birds?

It makes sense, really:  Too much salt is bad for us as humans, so it must not be very good for birds either, right?  When you take into account the size difference between a human being and a bird, the amount of salt on a cracker, for example, could potentially be toxic to a small songbird.

Salt dehydrates.  It causes thirst, thereby making the consumer drink more (polydipsia), which, in turn, causes excessive excretion of fluids (polyuria).  In a creature as small as a bird, this could be devastating in a short amount of time.

This could apply to most woodland creatures.  Small amounts of salt (sodium chloride) are safe, but best to leave it to the animals to decide how much to ingest.  They can get the proper amounts through their natural diets.  Most of them do just fine with no human interaction at all. 

If you do want to toss some leftovers to the birds, there are safer choices.  Fruits, oatmeal, cooked rice, or small pieces of bread are fine.  (Despite the urban legend that bread is bad for birds, it is fine in moderation provided it is not moldy and is broken into manageable pieces.)

Better yet, just give them bird seed or suet.  (Or make your own. ;) )

Please Be Mindful:  
Don't feed salty snacks to the wildlife.

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