Wednesday, 21 January 2015

RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch

Happy Hump Day, Blogland.
Today I want to talk to you about birds, and encouraging them to your gardens this winter.

Why do I wanna talk about birds? Well, this weekend it's the RSPB's Big Garden Birdwatch, when the RSPB ask people across Britain to take an hour out of their weekend to observe and take note of the birds that visit their garden. This 'Big Garden Birdwatch' is an annual event that helps the RSPB get an accurate view of how British birds are doing. Find out more here and get some great Big Garden Birdwatch downloads.

If you want to encourage all of Britain’s birds into your garden, you’ll need to give them a reason to visit and what better reason to visit than for food #hellyeah. Over half of British adults already feed the birds that visit their garden, but to ensure wild birds make it through harsh winters, more of us need to leave food out for our feathered friends. 

A great food source to leave out for birds is mixed bird seed, which can be bought ready-mixed from pet stores and even Wilkinsons; the best mixtures contain plenty of flaked maize, sunflower seeds, and peanut granules, but note that mixes that contain chunks or whole nuts are suitable for winter feeding only. It’s also best to avoid mixtures that have split peas, beans, dried rice or lentils, as well as mixtures containing green or pink lumps, as only the large species can eat these dry.

Black sunflower seeds are an excellent year-round food, and in many areas are even more popular than peanuts. The oil content is higher in black than striped ones, and so they are much better. Peanuts are however, popular with tits, greenfinches, house sparrows, nuthatches, great spotted woodpeckers and siskins, and are rich in fat. Crushed or grated nuts attract robins, dunnocks and even wrens, but beware peanuts can be high in a natural toxin, which can kill birds, so buy from a reputable dealer.

Fat balls and other fat-based food bars are excellent winter food, but remember, if they are sold in nylon mesh bags, always remove the bag before putting the fat ball out, as the soft mesh can trap and injure birds. Mealworms (#yuk) are a natural food and can be used to feed birds throughout the year; they’re relished by robins and blue tits, and may attract other insect-eating birds such as pied wagtails. 

Finally, you can always feed garden birds leftover and stale, but not mouldy bread. Many moulds are harmless, but some can cause respiratory infections in birds, and so it is best to be cautious and avoid mouldy food entirely. If food turns mouldy or stale on your birdtable, you are probably placing out too large a quantity for the birds to eat in one day. Always remove any stale or mouldy food promptly as it provides a breeding ground for salmonella bacteria, which can cause food poisoning. 
By providing supplementary food in your garden during the winter months, and especially during particularly cold snaps (like the one we're in the midst of right now #bbrrrrr!), will bring some amazing birds into your garden and you’ll be surprised how fascinating you find their behaviour and colours – they’ll brighten up any bare garden.

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