Everyone enjoys feeding garden birds and with the wide choice of bird tables and feeders now available, it has never been easier, whether you live in a high rise block of flats or a house with a large garden.
The range of foods available for wild birds has also grown considerably, making it possible to offer items that will appeal to all garden birds. As many as forty different types of bird can be seen in gardens in the Lothians. At this time of year, swallows and house martins will be eating continuously to prepare for their annual migration.
Wagtails, Blue and Great Tits, Tree Creepers, Chaffinches and Goldfinches are all regular autumn visitors as well as sparrows. If you live on the east of the country, various sea birds can venture into your garden, if encouraged by chunks of bread. However, apart from the noise, they are likely to scare away smaller birds.
Other species will be heading into Britain to spend the winter. To attract as many different species as possible, the obvious starting point in terms of food is a quality wild bird seed mix, which will contain a wide selection of seeds, to appeal to many different bird table visitors. One of the latest additions to such mixes is black sunflower seed, high in protein and oil, to give birds a concentrated source of nutrients when they need them most.
Not all birds eat seeds, however and so you can obtain a muesli type wild bird food which acts as an ideal winter warmer for birds such as thrushes, blackbirds and robins. They can also benefit from softbill food, not to mention mealworms which should be offered in a small shallow pot to prevent them escaping from the bird table.
Location, location, location
If you are starting out with a bird table, positioning is important, so that birds will feel secure while they are feeding. It is not a good idea to place the table near a shed or in thick vegetation where a cat could hide and ambush the birds. Be sure to fix the table securely into the ground so that it doesn’t blow over.
In cold weather, particularly in towns, starlings may dominate the table but you can provide other foods in special feeders which are suitable for smaller birds such as blue tits and finches.
Unfortunately, there are risks in attracting a number of birds. If one of them is ill, it can affect the other birds, so keep the bird table clean. Firstly, don’t overload it, or left over food could go mouldy. Also, watch out for bird droppings on the table.
Water is as vital for birds as food. Always provide an open pot of water where birds can easily drink, especially when natural sources are frozen. Again, ensure that it stays clean.
For more information, contact Ernest and Charles, suppliers of wild bird foods and feeders.