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Great Autumn berries

Spreads for web 3

Jim Hayward advises on which wild berries are safe and nutritious for your birds

Summer and autumn berries can provide a feast for psittacines and other birds. Not all parrots appreciate them, but most do, especially the medium to large species. Old time fanciers collected and dried Rowan and Elder berries, so that they could be re-constituted by soaking in hot water when needed. These were then fed to their birds when little wild food was available for collection in winter and early spring. Modern day breeders collect large amounts and store them in their freezers. I prefer to feed them fresh when in season.

The fruits of the Rowan (sorbus aucuparia) are the first to ripen in July and August in the UK. These are in fact pomes and not berries. Wild birds, like starlings, blackbirds and thrushes love them and it is always a race to get them down for the aviary birds before the wildings gobble them up.

The ripe juicy berries of the Elder (sambucus nigra) come soon after in August and September and are also favoured by wild and aviary birds alike. However, the leaves and unripe fruit are said to be poisonous. Both Rowan and Elder become available in the UK as the moult starts with many species, and are great benefit in ensuring good feather and bright colour.

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