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Posts Tagged ‘feeding the birds’

CJ Wildlife Blackbird Nest Box

We are all familiar with our summer migrants the Swift, Swallow and the House Martin who come to Britain to breed and escape the harsh African, yet did you know that tens of millions of birds arrive in Autumn from their breeding grounds to escape the bitter cold weather and a shortage of food (hidden under ice or snow) to spend the winter in our mild climate. These birds travel large distances from the north and east (Scandinavia, Northern Europe and the Arctic) and include Fieldfare, Redwing, Mistle Thrush, Brambling, Robin, Starling, Blackbird, Bewick’s Swan, Whooper swan, many types of ducks, wading birds and geese including Pink Footed Geese who fly very high in a V-shaped formation called a ‘skein’.

Here are some amazing statistics about some of our Winter migrants:

Brent Goose – Over 120,000 arrive October onwards from the Canadian Arctic flying 19,000 miles to the UK, overwintering mainly in Ireland.

Bewick’s Swan – Over 7,000 arrive October onwards from Siberia flying 2,500 miles to the UK.

Fieldfare – Over 720,000 arrive October onwards from Scandinavia and North West Russia flying 1100 miles to the UK.

Many birds arrive on our shore hungry and exhausted, some make emergency stops on their journey and rest on oil rigs and boats out at sea (as seen in this year’s Waitrose Christmas advert).

Wildlife World Open Fronted Teapot Bird Nester and Nest Box

You might be surprised to hear that Robins, Blackbirds and Starlings are winter migrants as we see them throughout the year, in the UK we have our own resident populations but during the winter their numbers are boosted by birds escaping the extreme cold of Eastern Europe. These visiting birds act differently as they are not used to their new surroundings and having people nearby, they skulk in the undergrowth and near the feeders before darting out for food they are easily frightened unlike our residents that dive on the feeders, they will after time adjust to their new environment and become more confident.

We all know the importance of feeding the birds throughout the cold winter months, knowing that thousands of winter migrants are coming here to feed makes it even more important, if you haven’t got any birdfeeders in your garden now is a good time to invest in some, they are inexpensive and will provide many hours of pleasure for you and the birds! It is a good idea to put up different types of feeders that will hold a variety of bird food, peanuts, sunflower seeds, sunflower hearts, mixed bird seed, fat balls and mealworms, different types of food will attract more species of birds. If you are fortunate to have an apple tree or maybe know someone who has, store any surplus apples now to put out later on for the ground feeding birds, this year has been a very good year for fruit. Some kitchen leftovers can be put out for the birds these include grated cheese, cooked potatoes, rice or pasta, porridge oats, fruit, biscuit and cake crumbs. Water is just as important as food, fresh water changed regularly will provide birds with drinking and bathing water.

For more information on feeding birds through the Winter click here or to see our range of bird feeders click here.

This weekend make time to put up some bird feeders in your garden.

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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Well it’s the beginning of October, so we are thinking darker nights, dewy cobwebbed mornings and autumn leaves.  … And this month is also all about pumpkins. 

So for the Family Competition this month we would like to know how you like to eat your pumpkins – in soup, a pie or something a little different please do send your suggestions in.  We will feature our favourites here on the blog and the best of the bunch will win a copy of the brilliant book Grow It Eat It, along with a lovely Willow Herb Planter and a selection of Seeds.  For all the details of how to enter please click here.

As the weather becomes a bit more unpredictable it’s always good to have a few indoor activties up your sleeve so for this months School Competition we have a fun autumn wordsearch for you to unravel. 

All the details of how to enter can be found here, and the first correct entry out of the hat will win a fabulous selection of bird feeding goodies to keep you feathered visitors to the school playground, happy during the colder days ahead.  Included will be a Ground Bird Table made from FSC wood, a Laminated Guide to Garden Birds, a Bird Window Feeder, a bag of High Energy Bird Mix and a Birch Log Nest Box.

…And remember both our competitions close on 31st October 2010 – so enter today!   Good Luck.

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2010 is the International Year of Biodiversity and people all over the world are being encouraged to look at ways to safeguard the variety of plants and animals on their doorstep. 

…And in this special National Nest Box Week, which runs from 14th to 21st of February it’s time to provide homes for the dozens of species of bird in Britain … be they blue tits, robins, chaffinches or cheeky house sparrows.

National Nest Box Week is organised each year by the British Trust for Ornithology, Britain’s leading bird research charity. 

They recognise that the natural nest sites on which many of our bird species depend, such as holes in trees and buildings, are fast disappearing as gardens and woods are ‘tidied’ and old houses are repaired. 

It is now estimated that there are between 5 and 6 million nesting boxes in gardens across the UK and they are having huge benefits for our bird populations.

So why not support National Nest Box Week and put up nest boxes in your local area.  You’ll be doing your bit for the conservation of our breeding birds and wildlife.  …Plus in a few weeks time you will have all the fun of watching as bird activity in the garden goes into overdrive with the arrival of young and all that that entails!

Take a look at our great range of nesting boxes.  For the perfect nest box for robins & wrens there is the Robin & Wren Nest Box.  Made from FSC wood, this attractive, flat based open nest box has been designed specifically for these types of birds.

The Birch Log Hole Nest Box, looks beautifully natural and its 32mm hole makes it suitable for species including Great Tits, House Sparrows and Nuthatches. 

 To clean, simply unscrew one side of the lid. As this is a natural product there will be some variations in dimensions.

Made from FSC wood

The Open Birch Log Nest Box is made from a single birch log and is suitable for attracting Robins, Wrens and Blackbirds. 

Also made from FSC wood.

The Tall Oval Nesting Pouch  is for all small birds providing essential protection on cold nights to preserve body fat and enable survival.

It also provides nesting space for small birds mainly Wrens and Goldcrests.

Made from natural durable materials, these nests come complete with fixing wire and detailed instructions. The nests are light and easy to fix in hedgerows, ivy, on pergolas, fencing, walls and small trees or bushes.

Comes with hanger and instructions.

…And for watching all the action as it unfolds take a look at the versatile Wildlife Surveillance Camera .

It features a superb colour/ infrared, weatherproof camera unit in an FSC timber housing for additional protection and security. Complete with audio and integral infrared lights (invisible to the eye and animals) the camera automatically swaps from colour during daylight, to infrared (black and white) in low light conditions.

Ideal for bird tables and feeders, it’s also perfect for making night-time observation of badgers, foxes and hedgehogs. The kit comes complete with a long screened extension cable, low voltage power unit and scart adapter to plug directly into your TV or recorder.

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Here at Gardening With Children, we care deeply about our environment as well as our wildlife, and during the winter months I have had such fun with my own children watching the birds in our garden.  

Try Gourmet Robin Food in your garden and give this favourite bird a real treat

The children’s sheer delight as the drama of the bird world unfolds…  The blue tits and great tits swapping and changing on the nut feeders, the blackbirds exploring the ground, the cautious wren hopping amongst the flower pots and the swooping in of the starlings – a boisterous mob of tear aways coming in and causing chaos… and that’s all in a few minutes!  

The Niyger Bird Feeder is great for all sorts of seed feeding birds

 …And yesterday I shared a joke with Jemima as we watched a pied wagtail perched on the wall.  As it teetered and bobbed, wagging its tail to keep balance we soon saw where it got it’s name!! 

Birds need our help more than ever at this time of year and we have also been feeding the birds at school.  This provides a fantastic learning experience for the children, and handy feeders such as the Discovery Seed Feeder and the Window Bird Feeder can be placed where the children can see so much of the action from inside the classroom. 

 

We also love the Handing Bird Table  and the Ground Bird Table.  Both are priced at just £13.95 and are made from FSC wood.  Bird tables are important in any garden.  They reduce the risk of hygiene problems, can be easily cleaned and they keep pets out of reach.  They are also perfect for gardens where space is limited. 

 

The full range of wildlife products, from for Hedgehog Food to Peanut Cakes and beautiful Birch Nesting Boxes, are all available at www.recycleworks.co.uk

 

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