It is the first day or spring today and also International Day of Happiness — I couldn’t think of a better day to talk about all the wonders taking place in our gardens. Spring is a brilliant time of year for your garden birds. There are lots of delights to watch, you might see a few different varieties and the sound of spring is certainly coming alive. If you think that Spring is just about Nest building you are only partially right, there is a lot more to look out for in your garden at this time of year.
New arrivals appear at this time of year and I’m not talking just fledglings. You may see an increased number of birds in your garden for two reasons:
- More birds are coming for food & nesting near by — you have been added to their territories
- Migratory birds are arriving — especially when April arrives you may find an influx of new birds.
Be on the look out for new varieties; at this time of year you may start to see Swallows, Swifts, House Martins, Northern Wheatears and Willow Warblers depending on where you are located.
Birds begin their nesting season — it is a great time to get your nesting material up for them to use, they love anything from pet hair to man-made fibres.
Whatever species of bird you have in your garden, you will see them finding various nesting material around your garden. Tits will choose the softest nesting materials they can find — like pet hairs, seeds and even cobwebs!
Robins build their nests from soft materials and moss. Pigeons, on the other hand, will put a few twigs together for their young to nest in (they are notoriously some of the worst nest builders!).
However your garden visitors choose to build their nests, we recommend giving them a helping hand by leaving out some suitable nesting materials in the garden. You can simple add them to suet cage and stuff it full of fur or yarn.
You may start to see Fledglings are the next few weeks, it has been a cold spell but some birds like Thurshes, Blackbirds and Longtailed Tits start to nest in late February so their little fluffballs will be arriving soon. You might start to see them guarding nest areas that could give you an insight into where they are but remember, don’t disturb nests because parent birds may abandon the chicks!
It is important to keep an eye out for them and make sure you are adding more food to the feeder to help nesting parents keep up their strength and feed their young.
Traditional wisdom had it that at this time of year, with the worst of the winter weather behind us, birds had to learn to fend for themselves and bird watchers should no longer provide a helping hand.
Research has shown that this is not the best course of action — particularly so at this time when many once common birds are showing a decline in numbers, which is more than likely a result of human activity, such as building on natural land and the removal of hedgerows for modern farming methods.
The more birds you help to successfully raise their babies this spring and summer, the more birds you can enjoy in your garden for years to come. You’ll also know that you’re doing your bit to save the UK’s endangered species.
Caring for Fledglings
To give them the best possible start in life it’s important to provide good quality, high-energy food that can be easily digested by small stomachs. We have a Nest & Fledge mix which is perfect for fledglings, giving them added Calcium, helping them to grow strong and it even has Poppy Seed which keeps them happier and calmer in the nest.
Don’t put out whole peanuts at this time of year unless they are in a caged feeder, if you want to add peanuts to your birds diet go for kibbled as these will not choke the fledglings.
Choose a good quality suet that has lots of nutrients, we do a range of suet that you can choose from on our website.
Live mealworms are a good choice, avoid dried unless they are added to a feeder or you have soaked them before putting them out.
Make sure you are keeping your feeders topped up, parent birds use a lot of energy at this time of year if they are heading to empty feeders they will lose their energy for no reward. Don’t forget to keep your bird feeders clean, lots of birds will be visiting so it is extra important to keep them clean and cared for.
Feeding the birds
During Spring birds need more energy than normal, they have lots of activities to be getting on with; Nesting, Mating, Egg Laying, Feeding Fledglings, Moutling and dealing with unpredictable weather and temperatures. All of these things have an impact of their energy levels and their body fat. They will have natural sources of food, but they are not always abundant any more so keeping food out for them is a real help.
Food that you can use to help your birds:
Robin & Friends Mix — this is high in energy & vitamins with a mixture of protein & carbs including Mealworms.
Spring & Summer Mix — made with spring birds in mind, it is a lighter seed mix but it is still a very high-energy food and perfect for adding to your seed feeders.
It is really important at this time of year to help the insect eating birds in your garden like thrushes, flycatchers, swallows. Insect eating birds need insects and at this time of year for lots of reasons they may not always be able to find them. Add insects to your garden or create an area where insects will thrive, this will help your birds.
Create Wild Areas
A great way of supplying natural bird food is creating wild areas in your gardens. Insect eating birds will love you for it!
Here are some great ways to create these areas:
- Pile up logs and wood. Making a small stack of wood is a great way of to creating a habitat for bugs. his can be anything from a large stack of natural logs, to a small stack of twigs and branches depending on what you have available and how much space you have.
- Gather a small pile of leaves in a corner, this will also provide a great habitat for insects & worms.
- Plant wild seeds and flowers. You can get fantastic seeds from people like SeedBall who make seeds tailored to your birds needs. It’s best to grow wildflower seeds in pots and the plant them outside once they have established. This will benefit both seed and insect eating birds as well as looking beautiful in your garden!
- Create a Mini Meadow — Check out these great tips from wildlife in the city on how you can help wildlife with meadows.
Obviously, the bigger you can make your wild area, the more small songbirds will take up residence in it. A small patch behind the garden shed measuring a couple of metres in length will be enough to surprise you with the amount of new small birds you see in your garden!
Creating an area with natural water like a pond or adding a bird bath to your garden will make a big difference. Birds use water for all different reasons; drinking, cleaning and evening having family baths in the summer.
It doesn’t need to be anything elaborate or expensive, just add a small area of water and watch how many more birds visit your garden.