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Posts Tagged ‘bird feeding’

Wildlife World Urban Bird Feeder

This year the RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch takes place on the weekend of 30th/31st January, it began in 1979 and is now one of the world’s largest wildlife surveys, last year 585,000 people took part and counted 8,546,845 birds. Each year the results are collated and are used to compare trends, monitor species, understand how birds are doing and take steps to put things right.

Here are last year’s (2015) top 10 birds

  1. House Sparrow
  2. Starling
  3. Blackbird
  4. Blue Tit
  5. Woodpigeon
  6. Chaffinch
  7. Robin
  8. Great Tit
  9. Gold Finch
  10. Collared Dove

In 2014 the House Sparrow also came top, and the same bird species were in the top 10 although some in a different position. Each year there are mixed results here are some winners and losers from 2015’s survey.

The Winners

  1. The Blackbird was the most widely spotted bird in your gardens, they were spotted in more than 90 per cent of your gardens in 2015.
  2. Robins have climbed three places to the number seven spot, in 2014 they were number 10, but just over 85 per cent of you saw them in 2015.
  3. Twice as many people saw Wrens in their garden in 2015 than in 2014, they were spotted by 35 per cent of you, the highest number since 2006.

The Losers

  1. Song Thrush sightings have declined again, an all-time low, they are currently in 22nd place, and like many of our favourite garden birds they remain on the red list.
  2. Greenfinches dropped dramatically to 25th place, the drop is likely due to Trichomonosis disease. You can help to fight this disease by giving your feeders, bird tables and bird baths a regular clean.
  3. Starling numbers have plummeted by 80% since the first RSPB Birdwatch in 1979, another red-listed species, the RSPB is urgently researching the reasons for their decline.

There are many birds on the red list which are familiar to us; it is hard to believe that they are in decline and in trouble here are some of them:

  • Curlew
  • Black Grouse
  • Woodcock
  • Starling
  • Puffin
  • Hen Harrier
  • Herring Gull
  • Turtle Dove
  • Willow Tit
  • Marsh Tit
  • Skylark
  • Fieldfare
  • Song Thrush
  • Cuckoo
  • House Sparrow
  • Redwing
  • Mistle Thrush
  • Nightingale
  • Tree Sparrow
  • Greenfinch

There is one bird mentioned above that you might think is listed by mistake, its the House Sparrow although it was top of the RSPB Birdwatch list for the last two years its numbers are still in decline, between 1977 and 2008 the House Sparrow population dramatically dropped by 71%.

All the birds that you spot this year are very important, and just as important are the birds that you don’t spot.

Take part in this year’s RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch – it’s lots of fun, educational and a great family activity. Schools can get involved too and take part in the RSPB Big Schools’ Birdwatch any day/time this term until 12th February for more details and to sign up visit the RSPB’s website.

If you want more information on Feeding Garden Birds click here to have a look at our guide.

Have a fabulous Bird Watching Weekend.

Gill

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The nights are getting colder and the days shorter, both of these can have a huge and often negative effect on our birds. Birds need extra food to keep them warm during chilly nights, the reduced daylight hours mean there is less time to search for natural food which as the winter progresses will become scarcer, this is why the RSPB have launched ‘Feed the Birds Day’ to raise awareness on how important it is to put out food for our wonderful feathered friends. This year it is on Saturday 24th October which is the last day of British Summer Time when the clocks go forward and it will then go darker an hour earlier.

How and what should we feed the birds

If possible put out different types of food in a variety of feeders which will be suitable for a wide range of birds, when the weather is cold birds need to eat 40% of their own body weight per day to survive.

Jupiter Peanut FeederNut feeders are made from rigid steel mesh, which is large enough to prevent birds from damaging their beaks yet will only allow small pieces of nut to be removed. Peanuts are high in fat, buy certified peanuts from a reputable supplier as some poor quality peanuts can contain the natural toxin called Aflatoxin which can kill birds, never give birds salted or dry roasted peanuts. Will attract: Tits, Greenfinches, Sparrows, Nuthatches, Great Spotted Woodpeckers and Siskins, crushed nuts are favoured by Robins, Dunnocks and Wrens.

The Adventurer FeederSeed Feeders often consist of a clear cylindrical tube with feeding ports and perching rings at the bottom of the feeder. Fill with Sunflower Seeds, Sunflower Hearts (both are high energy foods) or seed mixtures specifically for seed feeders. Will attract House Sparrows, Dunnocks, Finches and Collared Doves. Tits and Greenfinches favour sunflower seeds and crushed peanuts.

Nyjer Seed FeederNyjer Seed Feeders have very small feeding ports to control the flow of seed and minimise waste, although it is very fine Nyjer Seed is rich in oil and highly nutritious. A favourite of Goldfinches, Greenfinches and Siskins.

Hanging Star Fatball FeederFat Ball/Cake Feeders are designed to hold fat balls or fat cakes, always remove any nylon mesh bags before placing them in your feeders, these bags are a hazard to wildlife and birds can become entangled and injured. Fat Balls/Cakes can also be put on to all Bird Tables whole or broken up. Popular with all birds especially the Tit family.

Wooden Peanut Butter FeederPeanut Butter Feeders will provide your birds with a nutritious, high energy treat, refills are available in different flavours (original, nut, mealworm, insect) which are specially formulated for birds, do not give birds peanut butter for human consumption as it has a very high salt content. A favourite of the Tit family.

Mealworms for BirdsLive Mealworms are an important source of protein and extremely beneficial in Spring for young chicks and adults throughout the winter when insects are scarce. Serve your mealworms in a container with smooth, vertical sides so that they cannot escape. The Robin is often the first to the dish but they attract Wrens, Dunnocks, Tits, Song Thrushes, Blackbirds, Starlings and House Sparrows.

New York Hanging Slate TableBird Tables are available in many different designs; freestanding, hanging, wall mounted or ground. Bird tables that have a roof will give protection to birds from predators and keep the food dry.

Selection Bird Feeding TableGround Bird Tables are especially useful for ground feeding and larger birds such as Blackbirds, Thrushes and Starlings, they will still be used by smaller birds too. Elevating the food off the ground reduces the risk of hygiene problems, move the table around the garden to avoid the build up of any waste food or droppings, only put out enough food that will be eaten to avoid attracting vermin.

Coniston Bird BathBird Baths are very important and provide your birds with a supply of fresh water for drinking and bathing throughout the year, they should been cleaned out regularly and replaced with fresh water daily especially during warm weather and freezing conditions.

Leftover Food

It may be tempting to ‘treat’ your birds to some of your leftovers but this can do more harm than good:

  • Bread – although not harmful to birds it is not very nutritional and just fills them up
  • Salty Food – including salted or dry roasted peanuts can dehydrate them
  • Cooking fat from roasted meats, polyunsaturated margarines or vegetable oils – Can contain bacteria and salt, soft fats can smear on feathers destroying their waterproofing and insulating qualities. Hard fats such as Lard and Beef Suet are fine.
  • Milk – cannot be digested and can cause stomach upsets, cheese can be given safely.
  • Stale or Mouldy Food – can cause respiratory problems and salmonella.

Hygiene

The Urban Bird Feeder

The Urban Bird Feeder

Regularly clean bird feeders, bird tables and bird baths, wash well using a stiff brush and a mild disinfectant, rinse and allow to completely dry out before refilling. Wash them outside use separate utensils, wearing gloves and wash your hands afterwards. Throw away mouldy bird food from feeders and tables if there is a surplus reduce the amount that you put out, excess food on the ground can attract rats and mice.

Now is the time to check your feeders, buy some new ones and stock up on your bird food for the winter, why not get the children involved, then sit back and enjoy watching the birds in your garden.

Gill

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Have a look at our two Garden Bird Competitions:

In the School Zone find 10 hidden garden birds in our Garden Birds Wordsearch and you could win a

Birch Log Nest Box

Birch Log Hole Nest Box

a Wooden Peanut Butter Bird Feeder,

Wooden Peanut Butter Feeder

a Discovery Seed Feeder

The Discovery Seed Feeder

and a Fat Ball Feeder

Metal Fat Ball Feeder

 

In the Kids/Family Zone correctly identify the birds shown in the pictures

  1.  Goldfinch         B.  Robin         C.  Great Tit         D.  Blue Tit
  2.  House Sparrow         F.  Blackbird

1.

Metal Fat Ball Feeder

2.

Square Ground Bird Table

3.

Guardian Seed Feeder

4.

Hanging Star Fatball Feeder

5.

 Discovery Seed Feeder

6.

 Teapot Nester

and you could win a

Build Your Own Nest Box Kit

Build Your Own Nest Box

and a Wooden Peanut Butter Feeder

Wooden Peanut Butter Feeder

For full details and an Entry Form visit The School Zone and The Family Zone

Hurry as the closing date for both competitions is Saturday 14th March, 2015.

Good Luck

Gill

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Nyjer Seed Feeder

Winter is all about looking after our wonderful wildlife especially the birds, as their natural food resources decline they increasingly rely on us for food and water, putting out a regular supply can make a huge difference. The RSPB monitor British Bird populations using the results from their Big Garden Birdwatch Weekend, if you took part don’t forget to submit your results before 16th February, Schools have another week left to do their Big Schools’ Birdwatch it’s a great classroom activity and a great introduction to birds.

 Blackbird Nest Box

As the days lengthen the birds sense that Spring is on the way, they become noisier this is often to attract a partner or to defend their territory, the next step is to build a nest you may notice birds carrying twigs, feathers or moss in their beaks, now is the perfect time to give birds a hand and put up some nest boxes in your garden/school garden/local community they come in all different sizes and shapes to suit different species of birds, it may take a while for the birds to show an interest in your box, be patient, they will start by ‘checking it out’ to make sure it is suitable and safe, once chosen they will quickly build their nest inside.

Build Your Own Nest Box

Organised by the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) to encourage individuals, families, Schools, Groups and Clubs to put up Nest Boxes in their area, National Nest Box Week (14th-21st February) coincides with the half term holidays so get the children involved, choose and put up some nest boxes in your garden, put up different types to encourage more species, if you really want to get ‘hands-on’ my favourite is the Build Your Own Nest Box Kit it contains everything you need (pre-cut, pre-drilled wood pieces, screws, nails, washers and a hanger) to make your own Nest Box it has a 32mm entrance hole making it suitable for a wide variety of birds including House Sparrows, Tree Sparrows, Blue Tits, Great Tits, Coal, Tit, Marsh Tit, Nuthatches.

 Nest box showing removable sections

If you want to go ‘high tech’ in the garden why not put up a Bird Box with a Camera, you will be able to watch the day to day life of your birds and witness that special moment when the eggs hatch.

So give a bird a new home, there is nothing more satisfying than a bird nesting in your Bird Box especially if it is one that you have made.

Love your environment

Gill

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Snowy Allotment

The weathermen were right the cold weather has arrived, this morning we woke to a snowy winter wonderland there is little chance of doing any outdoor gardening at the moment.

It is too cold to start tidying up the garden, leave dead leaves/vegetation there for at least another month they are homes to many insects and pests such as slugs which although are unwanted provide a welcome meal for birds, frogs, toads and hedgehogs, small twigs/branches will be picked up by the birds to build their nests – a messy garden attracts more wildlife than a tidy one.

Wooden Puddle Duck Boards - Garden Track

It is too wet/frozen to start working on the soil, you can do more harm than good by starting too early, soil can soon become compacted making digging hard work, repeatedly walking on lawns can create a muddy mess, walking on frost covered grass will leave ‘black’ footprints damaging your grass, if you have to cross your lawn why not put down some duckboards they can be easily moved around or removed when not needed and will keep your shoes clean too, they are ideal for laying on your vegetable beds to walk on when you are sowing/planting.

Why not start your gardening year indoors there are lots of jobs that you can do now in preparation for Spring:

  • Have a good sort through your seeds throw away any out of date packets, it is often false economy sowing old seeds as germination rates can be poor and growing time is wasted by re-sowing. Order/buy new seeds, have a look through seed catalogues or on the internet there are thousands of different varieties of vegetables, fruits and flowers available with new varieties each year why not have a change and grow something completely different.
  • Make a Sowing Schedule and a Planting Plan that way nothing will get overlooked and every inch of your garden will be used, have a think back to last year’s crops did some do better that others, should they have gone in sooner, would you grow them again this year?

Onions from sets

  • Onion Sets and Seed potatoes are widely available, buy them early whilst all the varieties are available, choose ones that are firm, disease free and have not started sprouting. Onion sets can be planted now individually in pots, put seed potatoes in egg boxes or seed trays to ‘chit’ make sure the ‘rose end’ of each potato is at the top this is where most of the ‘eyes’ are, place in a light frost-free environment such as a cold greenhouse, polytunnel, porch or on your windowsill.
  • Have a spring clean in your greenhouse/polytunnel/potting shed, de-clutter, re-organise and throw away broken and unwanted items. Wash seed trays, pots, sieves, labels, watering cans, water butts and garden tools with Hortisept Pro Garden Disinfectant, hygiene is very important. Give the greenhouse glass a good clean inside and out with Verritex Pro Cleaning Solution to remove the build-up of algae and let in the maximum amount of light, wipe down the staging and wash out the gutters too.

Sneeboer Mattock Garden Tool

  • Garden Tools are very important and may need some maintenance clean, oil and sharpen ready for Spring. If you already have a Propagator it is a good idea to plug it in and check that it is still working.
  • Buy new compost each year for seed sowing and growing on seedlings and young plants, use last year’s bags of potting compost as a mulch or dig in to improve the soil.

Robin in snow 1

  • Keep the bird feeders topped up and wash out regularly, birds need a supply of fresh water to drink and to bathe in (even if it is cold) bird baths are shallow and will soon freeze up.

Keep yourself busy and warm – Spring is just around the corner (I hope)

Gill

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In life there are few certainties and many uncertainties; the British weather has got to be one of the biggest uncertainties, in Britain we have a very varied and changeable climate not just north to south but regional as well which makes it very hard for our weathermen to forecast, even with new technology. The weather affects everything not just your holiday or BBQ, it also has a huge impact on plants, birds, wildlife and even the seasons too, although Spring comes at the same time each year, it can in fact be early brought on by mild temperatures or late if we have prolonged cold spell with freezing temperatures.

Early Small Tortoiseshell

Unseasonal mild weather can bring creatures out of hibernation early, yesterday there was a Small Tortoiseshell Butterfly fluttering against the upstairs windows if we had let it out it wouldn’t have survived, it is too cold and there are hardly any flowers about so it would have had no food, as well as being an easy meal for a hungry bird. Thomas managed to catch it in his butterfly net and place it safely in his pop up Butterfly House which he then put in a dark cupboard, it has now gone back to sleep, we shall keep checking on it.

10 Fat Ball Feeding Ring

As I write this there are twelve starlings picking food off the lawn and pushing their beaks into the soft ground trying to find tasty worms or grubs, with half a dozen House Sparrows busy on the Seed Feeders, which are filled with high energy sunflower hearts although they are slightly more expensive than bird seed I find there is little mess or waste, the fat ball feeders are very popular with all the birds and need refilling the most often. The weathermen are predicting another cold snap this week from Wednesday onwards which they say will last well into next week I will be replenishing my stock of bird food to keep the feeders topped up.

We get a lot of Starlings and House Sparrows in our garden (both of which are in decline this has become apparent from the results of The Big Garden Birdwatches over the last 36 years) we also get the odd Blackbird, Wren, Robin and amazingly Goldcrest yet we have very few Blue, Great or Coal Tits, recently we have had regular visits from a family of Log-tailed Tits they are a delight to watch and are my favourite bird, we did the Big Garden Birdwatch at home yesterday (Sunday) we were down on species and numbers compared to last year I think this was partly due to the weather, it was definitely milder than previous days which could possibly mean that the birds were searching and finding food in the fields and hedgerows, I am sure the heavy drizzle didn’t help either.

Here is my ‘forecast’ for the week ahead:

  1. Turning colder
  2. Send in the results of The Big Garden Birdwatch
  3. Buy more Bird Food
  4. Keep the Bird Feeders topped up
  5. Stay warm inside and enjoy watching the birds in your garden

Love your environment – whatever the weather

Gill

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Wooden Peanut Butter Feeder

A Wooden Peanut Butter Feeder provides a high energy treat for the birds

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This weekend (24th/25th January) is the RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch it began in 1979 and is one of the world’s largest wildlife surveys, last year nearly half a million people took part with 7,274,159 birds being counted. Each year the results are collated and are used to compare trends, monitor species, understand how birds are doing and take steps to put things right.

Schools are also invited to take part, they can do the Big Schools Birdwatch anytime this half term until the 13th February, and can Register and download specially designed classroom resources on the RSPB website.

How do you take part?

  1. Register for the Big Garden Birdwatch before this weekend, you will receive an information pack full of advice, information and a Bird ID guide.
  2. Put out bird feeders preferably containing high energy foods as well as a some fresh water, this can be done throughout the year not just during winter or for the Big Garden Birdwatch.
  3. Why not have a go at making your own Bird Cakes? Click here to find out how.

My Fat Ball and Feeder

On the weekend of the Birdwatch

  1. Make sure that your bird feeders are full and fresh water is available.
  2. Get a pen, paper, and a pair of binoculars, if you have some, and have a bird book or guide to birds handy, make it a family activity include as many people as you can, not all birds are easy to spot on the other hand you may suddenly have a large flock which can be difficult to count.
  3. Decide when you are going to do the Birdwatch, birds are often hungry early morning and late afternoon so you have a good chance of spotting a good variety during these times, on a cold dry day you can expect to see more birds than if it is wet and windy.
  4. Sit comfortably and watch the birds for an hour, count and record the highest number of each species of bird that you see at any one time.
  5. Submit your results online or by post by 13th February 2015.

The RSPB are interested in other British wildlife too and are asking you to let them know how often you see any of the following in your garden, park or local area:

Badger, Grey Squirrel, Red Squirrel, Muntjac Deer, Roe Deer, Hedgehog, Slow Worm, Grass Snake.

If you want more information on Feeding Garden Birds click here to have a look at our guide.

Why not practice your Bird Spotting skills before the weekend?

Have a look at our two new Garden Bird Competitions:

In the School Zone ‘Spot’ the 10 hidden garden birds in our wordsearch puzzle and you could win a

Birch Log Nest Box (pictured below)

Birch Log Hole Nest Box

a Wooden Peanut Butter Bird Feeder, a Discovery Seed Feeder and a Fat Ball Feeder.

In the Kids/Family Zone correctly identify the birds shown in the pictures and you could win a

Build Your Own Nest Box Kit (pictured below),

Build Your Own Nest Box

and a Wooden Peanut Butter Feeder.

The closing date for both competitions is 14th March, 2015.

Have a fabulous Bird Watching Weekend, I will be taking part too.

Gill

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