7 Common Food Items Not Good for Backyard Birds

Vera Lawlor, a writer for Care2, offers up some fantastic advice as we move swiftly through the winter months.  Backyard birds are important to our local environments and keeping them strong and healthy is essential and important advice follows.


Bread is one of the biggest no-no’s when it comes to feeding backyard birds said Don Torino, president of the Bergen County Audubon Society, NJ.  “Just because they eat bread, that doesn’t mean it’s healthy for them,” Torino said. “The problem is they fill up on bread and get really weak because it has no nutritional value for them.”

When eaten excessively, bread will cause health problems for birds, including malnutrition and obesity. This is particularly prominent among young waterfowl in urban and suburban areas where ducklings and goslings may be fed large amounts of bread. As a result, these young birds fail to get proper nutrients for healthy growth and can develop deformed wings—known as Angel Wing. Feeding bread to waterfowl is illegal in many states for the protection of the birds.

Salt or salty food like chips or crackers
According to the nonprofit Nature Forever birds differ greatly in their ability to cope with salty food and water. For example, seabirds are able to eat marine animals and drink seawater without a problem, while many songbirds can die if they take in large quantities of salt. Most backyard birds cannot cope with too much salt intake so it’s important not to offer them salty food.

“Salted peanuts are not a good choice for backyard birds,” Torino said. “People should choose unsalted or roasted peanuts instead. The same goes for other types of nuts.”

Moldy or stale food
While it’s true many molds are harmless, some can cause respiratory infections in birds. For this reason, avian experts recommend not feeding moldy or stale foods to backyard birds. It’s also important to remove any stale or moldy seed or other food from feeders.Stale food provides a breeding ground for salmonella bacteria, which can cause food poisoning and even death.
Torino said it’s important to keep bird feeders clean and he recommends periodically washing them with a 10 percent bleach solution. In addition, dropped seed should be raked up from under the feeders.

“It’s also a good idea to move the feeders around so all the droppings aren’t collecting in one place,” Torino said. “That helps to prevent avian diseases being passed around from one bird to another.”

Raw Meat
Many birds are carnivorous, but avoid offering raw processed meat in any form, including ground meats or meat scraps. Meat can spoil quickly and will grow dangerous bacteria that can kill birds.  Instead, offer fatty protein such as suet to give birds a nutritious and safe option.
Torino said that there are different grades of store-bought suet and he recommends steering clear of those that are packed with corn.

“The corn is just taking up space in the suet and the birds won’t eat it,” Torino said. “Instead choose suet with nuts and fruit.”

Cake, cookies and other dessert foods
You might not like to dump leftover cookies, donuts or cakes into the trash when the backyard birds would really enjoy them. However, these foods are full of processed ingredients and are not healthy for birds.  According to the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife bakery goods can spoil, mold and draw rodents to the feeder and are not healthy for our native birds.

While it’s a myth that rice will expand and explode in a bird’s stomach, this is still not a good source of food for birds. Just as with bread, birds will fill up on rice, which does not have the nutrition they need to stay healthy.

Experts at the Humane Society of the United States caution against feeding foods that contain chocolate to birds. Chocolate contains theobromine and is toxic to birds just as it is to dogs and cats.

For more info on caring for birds in the winter months, The Cornell Lab of Ornithology offers a tip sheet on Winter Bird Feeding.  Care2 was founded with a simple mission: to help make the world a better place. Based in Silicon Valley, they are the world’s largest social network for good. They are a community of over 40 million standing together, starting petitions and sharing stories that inspire action. For the past 19 years, Care2 has been a pioneer in online advocacy and they continue to focus on being on the forefront of creating technology that connects people to ways to make a difference in the world.


SerendipiTea Wins BIG in the 2018 Global Tea Championship!

The Global Tea Championship™ is an independent competition judged by tea professionals to distinguish the highest quality and best tasting teas commercially available. The judging panel consisted of professional cuppers who assessed each submission through blind organoleptic analysis of the following characteristics: dry leaf; brewed color; brewed aroma; brewed flavor; brewed mouth-feel; brewed harmony. The ratings of each characteristic were then used to calculate an overall numerical value on a 100-point scale, and winners were determined by rank.  Our friends at SerendipiTea knocked it out of the park, taking home seven Global Tea Championship Awards!

The World Tea Championship is the only independent tea competition evaluated by professional cuppers to distinguish the highest quality and best tasting teas that are commercially available in the North American marketplace.

For a more information and a complete list of winners visit:  http://worldteanews.com.
RED OZ won GOLD in the Blended Rooibos Category under Small Batch Iced.

COCONUTTY NILSSON won SILVER in the Flavored Green Category under Small Batch Iced.

LILI’UOKALANI won SILVER in the Flavored Black Category under Small Batch Iced.

PuERH won SILVER in the PuErh/Dark Tea Category under Single Serve Hot.

GINGER won SILVER in the Herbal Category under Single Serve Hot.

WHITE PEACH won SILVER in the White Flavored Category under Single Serve Hot.


SerendipiTea, an artisanal NY-based operation established in 1995, is known for its wide assortment of Specialty Tea and Tisane, including an extensive variety of certified organic, certified kosher, single estate, traditional and creatively blended options. All blending and packing is done on site, by hand at their New York facility.

SerendipiTea is served nationally at the finest restaurants, cafes and tea houses and can be found in select Specialty Food stores throughout the country.

For additional information or to place an order:  call the main office at 888-TEA-LIFE (888-832-5433) or visit www.serendipitea.com


10 Tips for Green Living from HGTV

Small changes made by individuals can add up to big changes for the environment. Here are 10 tips for Green Living to get you started:

1. Get a High-Efficiency Showerhead. A high-efficiency showerhead saves up to 3,000 gallons of water per person per year. You'll also save $50 in energy costs and 1,000 pounds of carbon dioxide per person per year. The showerheads are specially designed to conserve resources while still providing like a luxurious-feeling shower. Sink-aerator attachments also save major amounts of water and are very inexpensive.

2. Recycle Water in Your Bathroom. Use devices that allow you to reuse sink water for flushing your toilet. Or keep a bucket by the shower or the tub and fill it with the cold water that comes out before the hot water kicks in. Then take the bucket outside and use it to water your plants.

3. Compost. Use a compost bin to turn your food and lawn wastes into rich mulch. It's a great way to reduce your trash production, and next year you'll have rich compost ready to go for spring planting.

4. Buy Green Power From Your Utility. Most utilities charge less than $5 per month extra. Not only will your power come from a renewable source, but you'll use the power of your spending to show utility executives and government officials that we need more investment in renewable-energy projects.

5. Improve the Efficiency of Your Existing Water Heater. Tankless and solar water heaters are great, but simple changes to your existing setup can cut your energy bills and carbon emissions by 25 percent or more. Reduce the temperature of your water heater to 120 degrees, wrap it in a water-heater insulating blanket and insulate the first 3 to 6 feet of hot and cold water pipes. These inexpensive changes should take you less than an hour to complete.

6. Use High-Efficiency Outdoor Lighting. A typical 100-watt floodlight, if used for six hours a day, can consume up to $40 of electricity over the course of a year and produce upwards of 400 pounds of carbon dioxide, depending on where you live. For starters, replace those floodlights with compact-fluorescent versions-they're just as bright and use a quarter of the energy. Next, replace low-wattage halogen landscape bulbs with LED versions. They cut energy use by over 80 percent and can last for 10 years or more. Finally, install motion sensors on any nonessential lights. New versions just screw right into your existing light socket.

7. Replace High-Use Indoor Lights with Compact Fluorescents or LEDs. With high-quality light, sizes for almost any fixture and even versions that are dimmable,  compact fluorescents have it all. They're more expensive than normal light bulbs, but between the energy savings and their much longer life spans, they pay for themselves in less than two years. And consider LED bulbs for non-dimmable circuits (especially for holiday lighting). They're true energy misers and will last for as long as you live in your house.

8. Load Up the Washing Machines. Make sure you run the dishwasher and the clothes washers only when they're full. Clothes washers are huge energy and water users, so make sure you're doing full loads (or adjusting the water setting) whenever possible. And most of us use far more water (and soap) than we need to when hand-washing dishes, especially when compared with high-efficiency Energy Star dishwashers. So save your time, water and power by putting those dishes directly in the dishwasher after a meal.

9. Drive Smarter. Simple changes in our existing driving habits can improve fuel efficiency by up to 25 percent. Drive at or near the speed limit, keep your tires inflated, make sure oil and air filters are clean, and step on the gas and the brakes carefully. Driving like a drag racer may be fun, but it has a substantial environmental cost.

10. Avoid the Daily Waste of Fast Food and Shopping. Next week, keep track of how much trash you generate by eating out and making trips to the store, I guarantee you'll be amazed. All those bags, cups and containers really add up and are stuffing our landfills to capacity. Bring your own plastic or metal boxes to your favorite take-out joint. You'll save resources and save them money. Use reusable shopping bags whenever you go to the store. Say "no thanks" when the pharmacist or the fast-food clerk tries to put your one or two items in a bag. Use reusable cups for coffee, soda and other beverages. And reuse some of the extras at home -- keep extra napkins and reuse plastic cups and cutlery.


3 U.S. Small Businesses Receive National Award for Green Energy Work

Green America’s “People & Planet Award” recognized three small businesses for their dedication to creating a green economy. Clean Energy was the theme of this round of People and Planet Awards, and the winners of the $5000 prize were: Arcadia Power in Washington, D.C., Ryter Cooperative Industries in Detroit, MI and Cromwell Solar in Lawrence, KS.

We know that climate change is among the worst problems confronting the U.S. and the world,” said Fran Teplitz, Green America’s executive co-director. “While dirty energy from the fossil fuel industry is a major driver of climate change, this award reminds us that even acting locally can have a positive global impact. Green America is honored to recognize these American companies that are fueling the future.”   The winning companies:

Arcadia Power, Washington, D.C.   http://greenamerica.org/green-business-people-and-planet-award/Fall2017/Arcadia.cfm. Arcadia Power is the first nationwide clean energy platform giving people access to 100 percent pollution-free energy via their local utility bill. The majority of Americans can’t have on-site solar energy on their roof, so Arcadia’s proprietary energy service connects online utility accounts with a clean energy purchasing platform, importing all the energy data and displaying it on a web dashboard with information on savings and impact.

Ryter Cooperative Industries, Detroit, MI. http://greenamerica.org/green-business-people-and-planet-award/fall2017/Ryter.cfm. Ryter Cooperative Industries (RCI) provides real clean energy engineering solutions to under-represented communities. RCI’s first project was to find a way to provide clean and renewable energy for a Detroit urban farm by upcycling a used 40-foot shipping container and 10 donated solar panels from a local fabrication lab designing, building, and installing a 3-kilowatt solar power station out of these materials for the farm in partnership with Detroit Black Food Security Network.

Cromwell Solar, Lawrence, KS. https://www.greenamerica.org/personal-story/cromwell-solar. Cromwell Solar is a family-owned alternate energy firm working to increase access to solar for populations in our region. To survive in an area without much of a solar market, Cromwell Solar has developed a culture of solar education and innovation, holding talks and workshops across the state. Cromwell believes, if people do not understand solar, they will not install it

"We are thrilled to be recognized for our commitment to clean energy and plan to use the award to fast-track our nationwide on-bill energy efficiency program," said Kiran Bhatraju, CEO of Arcadia Power. "The new program will give all Arcadia Power members access to zero-down home efficiency products, with zero-percent financing for premium members. We want to make it easy for everyone to make sustainable energy choices."

“We are honored to be a winner of the Green America’s People and Planet Award," said Ali Dirul, founder and executive director of Ryter Cooperative Industries. “We plan to use this award to continue expansion of our projects in green energy around the state of Michigan and to grow our capacity to fulfill the engineering of more unique community-based clean energy projects in the very near future.” 

“Cromwell Solar is honored to be the first Kansas firm to win this award. We will now begin raising the remaining funds needed to perform a study to prove the economic benefits of solar so that regulators and the public can see both sides of the solar story – not just what the utilities choose to present,” said Cromwell Solar CEO Aron Cromwell. 

The theme for the next round of Green America’s award winners will be announced in the spring. 

The People & Planet Award recognizes innovative U.S. small businesses that integrate environmental and social considerations into their strategies and operations. The winners were selected by the public during a month-long online voting period. 

The businesses that the public vote on are determined by public nominations and an expert panel of judges: Gigi Abbadie, Aveda; Justin Conway, Calvert Foundation; Tess O’Brien, Clean Power Perks, Jennifer Snyder, Clif Bar; Erlene Howard, Collective Resource, Inc., Dale Luckwitz, Happsy.com;  Jonathan Reinbold, Organic Valley; Martin Wolf, Seventh Generation; and Andrew Korfhage and Fran Teplitz, both of Green America. www.greenamerica.org


10 Quick and Easy Ways to Green Your Office

1. Start small. Recycle all paper, aluminum and glass.
2. Turn off monitors, if not computers, at the end of the day
3. Invest in water coolers and paper cups instead of bottled water and styrofoam.
4. Make sure that all printing/copying paper is 100% post-consumer recycled.
5. Change kitchen habits to include non-disposable utensils.
6. Participate in a mass transit program - discount incentives save employees money and preserve the planet.
7. Purchase or lease fax machines, copiers and printers that print on both sides of paper.
8. Reuse shipping boxes and fillers.
9. Teleconference instead of traveling, whenever possible.
10. Use natural lighting, turning off overhead lights, whenever possible.


The Healthy Smoothie Bible: Lose Weight, Detoxify, Fight Disease and Live Long by Farnoosh Brock

START YOUR BLENDERS! Whatever your fitness regimen, health goals, or daily routine, this massive book of 100+ recipes has the perfect smoothies for every occasion, including:

• Zesty Berry Morning

• Citrus Superload

• Cacao Vanilla Shake

• Better Than Sex Elixir

• Limy Minty Charm

• Spicy Sweet Potato Shake

• Matcha Doing

• Blue Green Ocean

In this comprehensive resource about every aspect of the wonderful world of healthy smoothies, author and healthy drink expert Farnoosh Brock shares her knowledge, discoveries, useful tips, and lessons learned from years of making smoothies and getting healthier from the powerhouse of nutrition from these drinks. She gives you the full scoop:

• How to get started

• How to keep it simple

• How to listen to your body as you add healthy smoothies into your life

• How to heal your body and return it to harmony using the magic of your blender

Potassium-rich bananas, free radical-fighting blueberries, nutrient-rich spinach, succulent mango, light and sweet almond milk… every delicious natural ingredient you can think of pairs up in this smoothie book for devoted followers of the healthy smoothie revolution that's sweeping the nation.

Wondering how to stay motivated after the initial excitement wears off? How to make smoothies quickly and efficiently while still keeping it fun and fresh? Brock talks you through these situations and many more, giving you useful tips on how to manage each as you move forward with The Healthy Smoothie Bible.  $14.28. hardcover. www.amazon.com