Salt in bird baths and leftovers could kill garden birds24/02/2010 11:36:52 Salty food potentially lethal to birds
February 2010. A pinch of salt might make many of our favourite dishes that bit tastier, but it could kill some garden birds. The RSPB is urging people not to use salt as a de-icer in bird baths, as temperatures are set to plummet below freezing again.
The RSPB suggests placing a small floating item, such as a twig or a cork, into bird baths when they are first filled. This will keep the water moving, preventing it freezing solid. Alternatively, filling it with tepid water each morning will prevent it freezing for as long as possible.
Salt is toxic to gardens birds
Salt is toxic to gardens birds. Their bodies are unable to process it, and it affects their nervous systems. Birds become very thirsty and dehydrated when they ingest salt, meaning they would drink more, potentially exacerbating the problem. They would also suffer kidney dysfunction. Some small birds are not much bigger than one of our own kidneys, which we use to process salt, and they will overdose very quickly.
Salty water bad for bird feathers
Although most dangerous when ingested, salty water is not good for birds externally either. It could damage their feathers, meaning they are not in peak condition during the cold weather and into the breeding season. Even if they don't drink it, they could still ingest it as they preen.
The RSPB doesn't recommend any chemicals for unfreezing bird baths, and de-icers must also never be used. Birds may be drinking water from salty puddles as iced-over paths and roads that have been treated start to melt, so fresh water that we provide could also help reduce any harmful effects from that.
Crisps, salted nuts and salty kitchen scraps - bad