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This page is a place for us to share ideas and information about birds and garden wildlife with our visitors, friends and customers. We hope it will be of some interest to you.

You can be a successful birdwatcher in any backyard if you know how to attract and care for the birds around you.
You may just wish to provide some of the basic necessities for all the wildlife in your garden or you may want to create habitat and food to attract specific species. Hopefully the information on this page will help you to achieve your wildlife objectives and, if you have one of our camera nestboxes, to attract a family of birds to nest in it and care for them throughout the breeding season.

Be an Early Bird
The first step to attracting birds in spring is to be an early bird. The first migrating birds may
appear as early as February, long before the snow is gone and flowers are blooming.
Birders who act early to attract these initial migrants will establish their garden as a healthy, suitable habitat, and many times the first migrants may stay nearby throughout the spring and summer

How to Attract Birds in Spring
The key to attracting birds in spring is to meet their needs after a long migration flight and as they prepare for the nesting season.
Garden birders who pay attention to birds’ food, water, shelter and nesting requirements
will be more successful in attracting them.

PLEASE CLICK ON THE LINKS HERE TO WATCH GREAT VIDEO CLIPS SHOT BY WEBCAMERA NESTBOX OWNERS!

Bluetit building nest from Steve M

 

 

Would you like to share your birdbox video/you tube link/photos on this page?
We would love to hear from you! Contact us at Birdboxview.com

 

 

coaltitA pied wagtail enjoys seeds and treats from the birdtable


Food
In the spring there are few berries, seeds or insects available for newly arrived migrating birds.
Offering a selection of birdfeeders with different types of birdseed and other foods will help
nourish these birds, and keeping suet and other winter bird food available will also help the birds
recover from their long journeys. all birdfeeders should be kept clean.
For a natural food source, avoid raking dead leaves and lawns to allow birds to glean insects
from the debris.

WHAT AND HOW TO FEED GARDEN BIRDS

WHEN AND WHERE TO SITE NESTING BOXES

TYPES OF BOX

SPECIES NESTING PREFERENCES

INTERESTING BIRD FACTS

WHAT AND HOW TO FEED GARDEN BIRDS:

There are different mixes on the market for feeders, for birdtables and for ground feeding. The better mixtures contain plenty of flaked maize, sunflower seeds, and peanut granules.
Small seeds, such as millet, attract mostly house sparrows, dunnocks, finches, reed buntings and collared doves, while flaked maize is taken readily by blackbirds. Tits and greenfinches favour peanuts and sunflower seeds. Mixes that contain chunks or whole nuts are suitable for winter feeding only. Pinhead oatmeal is excellent for many birds. Wheat and barley grains are often included in seed mixtures, but they are really only suitable for pigeons, doves and pheasants, which feed on the ground and rapidly increase in numbers, frequently deterring the smaller species.
Avoid seed mixtures that have split peas, beans, dried rice or lentils as again only the large species can eat them dry. These are added to some cheaper seed mixes to bulk them up. Any mixture containing green or pink lumps should also be avoided as these are dog biscuit, which can only be eaten when soaked. 
BABY SPARROW ON BIRDTABLE A BABY SPARROW SHARES THE BIRDTABLE WITH A YOUNG MALE BLACKBIRD



Peanuts: Rich in far and popular with tits, greenfinches, house sparrows, nuthatches, great spotted woodpeckers and siskins. Crush or grate them to attract robins, dunnocks and wrens. Nuthatches and coal tits may hoard peanuts. Avoid salted and dry roasted peanuts. Be careful as peanuts can contain high levels of a toxin, aflatoxin, lethal to birds, so buy from a reputable dealer.
Black sunflower seeds: An excellent year-round feed, often proving more popular than peanuts!
Fat balls, birdcake and food bars: An excellent winter food. Make your own bird cake by pouring melted fat (suet or lard) onto a mix of seeds, nuts, dried fruit, oatmeal, cheese and cake. Use about 1 portion fat to 2 portions dry mix. Mix thoroughly and then put in a mould of your own choice (an empty coconut shell or plastic cup makes an ideal birdcake feeder or you can turn it out when set and place on the birdtable)
Other fats: Lard and suet are good foods for birds, particularly in cold weather, but do not give them the congealed fat from cooking meats as this will be blended with meat juices, which makes it a breeding ground for unhealthy bacteria and may "smear" which is bad for the bird's feathers. Polyunsaturated fats and oils should be avoided altogether.
Mealworms: These are relished by robins and blue tits and may attract other insect-eating birds such as pied wagtails. They are quite expensive to buy however and must be fresh as dead or discoloured worms can give birds salmonella poisoning.
Coconut: Tits love it but only fresh, never desiccated and clean off any coconut mild from the inside before hanging it up as this will encourage the build up of black mildew.
Dog and cat food: Tinned dog and cat food forms an acceptable substitute to earthworms during the summer when the worms are too deep down for birds to reach. Blackbirds will even feed dog food to their chicks.
Rice and grains: Cooked rice is readily eaten by most species during cold weather. Uncooked rice is only attractive to larger birds (pidgeons, doves, pheasants). Uncooked oatflakes and oatmeal is also good, but do not put out cooked porridge as this is too glutinous and can damage a birds beak.
Dairy products: A little mild grated cheese can attract robins, wrens and dunnocks but never give milk to birds, they are not able to digest it.
BEWARE OF MOULDY FOODS
Many moulds are harmless but some can cause respiratory infections in birds so be careful not to put out mouldy food. If food goes stale or mouldy on your birdtable you are overfeeding. Remove it and clean the table and put out less each day.

Chaffinch

CHAFFINCHES MALE & FEMALE

We are grateful to a friend who told us the following story, which, incidentally shows that
IT MAY BE POSSIBLE TO HELP IF YOU FIND A STRANDED BABY BIRD, PROVIDING IT IS NOT ACTUALLY INJURED

Two baby housemartins had fallen from or tried to leave their nest – the parent birds may have made a mistake because they had made their nest under the roof of a summer house, the roof is metal and it had been a very hot day.  Or maybe the bird had just got kicked out… I am not sure.  One baby bird was dead… I tried putting the living baby gently back into the nest but it came back out again.  It was too young to fly and so I decided to try to take it indoors and feed it.   I did not realise but there was one more still in the overheated nest, but luckily the next few days it rained. The good news was that the bird in the nest survived, possibly because the roof cooled down.  The parents were always in and out during this time feeding their baby(s).

Anyway, I found a little box and put a small hand towel in it and some tissue (which works well because when a baby bird poops you can easily remove the tissue and put more down).  I looked up on the internet what to feed baby birds in case of an emergency and found out that the food that you can give them is wet cat food….  I took a mortar and mashed up a small amount of wet cat food with some dried mealy worms and shelled sunflower seeds then I used a little water to dampen an unused small soft tip paint brush that you would use for painting watercolours, I dipped it into the food to get a tiny bit on the brush and touched the baby bird’s beak with it… it was hungry and it ate… I fed it about every 30 or 40 minutes until the evening when I left it to sleep.  I tried not to handle it very much… but when the baby is very little you sometimes have to hold it gently in your hand.  In the morning I was able to put the baby back into its nest with its sibling and they survived.  Of course it goes without saying but baby birds need to be somewhere safe away from predatory animals.
                                                                                  

FURTHER READING: Have a look at this concise, informative article from the Guardian magazine, 2 November 2012
Written by Matthew Appleby it answers questions about the usefulness of the many bird food products now appearing on the UK market and gives very sound advice on the whole subject of what food to offer and what other ways we can help wild birds to survive successfully in our gardens:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2012/nov/02/gardens-bird-feed

WHEN AND WHERE TO SITE NESTBOXES:

The best time to put up new nestboxes is in the autumn.  This allows the box to weather a little and gives birds plenty of time to “househunt” before the breeding season.  If it is impossible to set-up birdhouses by fall, they should be in place as early as possible in the winter.  Do not wait to see birds in the garden before mounting or hanging their nest boxes.  It may be a good idea to leave the boxes up year round so they can serve as roosting sites or shelter for migratory birds during winter. They can be taken down after the nesting season for cleaning and put back in place.

Location of the nesting box is as important in attracting certain kinds of birds as the size of the box and the entrance hole.  Different species will prefer wooded, shady or open grassy areas. However, dense shade is not suitable as most birds like a sunny open space.  In most cases it is a good idea to place it between 2 and 4 metres high.  You can use a tree, a wall or a specially constructed nesting pole to hang the box from, but be aware that if you mount a box on the side of a tree you are giving squirrels and cats easy access to it and try to use some sort of predator guard to keep them away! 

You are much more likely to attract a mating pair to a box if there is a good supply of their natural food in the vicinity too!

Protect the box from direct sunlight and gales by facing it between north and east, unless there are trees or buildings to shade the box during the day and tilt it very slightly forward so that heavy rainfall will hit the roof and not the opening.  Make sure that the birds have a clear flight path to the nest without any clutter obstructing the entrance.   

If placing a box on a tree try to avoid using nails as these will damage the tree. A good method is to hang it from a strand of galvanized wire slipped through the vent holes with a bungee cord and attached to both ends wire around the trunk - but the house must be securely fastened to prevent swinging as birds do not appreciate moving houses! 

Finally don’t forget that areas where pesticides and herbicides are used should be avoided. They are harmful to birds and sometimes succeed in eliminating insect populations. This will not serve the best interests of the birds as insects are the primary food source of many species.

malechaffinch
WRENS LIKE LOW, WET PLACES SUCH AS PONDS AND REEDBEDS

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TYPES OF NESTING BOX

We can encourage many of our garden birds, especially Blue Tits and Great Tits, to raise a family in our gardens by providing nest boxes. There are 3 popular types of nest boxes used in gardens, each type designed to attract a particular group of birds.

  • Standard Box
    A box with a small circular hole cut in the front. The size of the hole determines which bird is most likely to take up residence, some examples are:
    25 mm for Blue Tits
    28 mm for Great Tits
    32 mm for House Sparrows
    45 mm for Starlings

  • Open Box
    The open box is like the standard box except that most of the front is missing. These boxes usually attract Robins, Pied Wagtails, and Redstarts. Usually placed at about 1.5 m (5 feet) or higher.
    BABY ROBIN IN SUMAC

  • Owl Box
    These are large wooden boxes or tubes used to encourage Kestrels, Barn Owls, and Tawny Owls. These are usually placed in trees or buildings and at a height of 5 m (16 feet) or more. Be aware that young owls can be noisy at the nest, and other birds will mob owls during the daytime -this noise may not make you popular with your neighbours!

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SPECIES NESTING PREFERENCES:

House and Tree sparrows and Starlings like to nest in colonies so two or more boxes can even be sited on the same side of the house and all will be used if there is a good supply of natural food. They will also be happy nesting high up right under the eaves of the house but be careful not to place boxes too close to an area already popular with House martins, another species that likes to nest in groups. 
Most other species will not tolerate a second pair in the same garden unless it happens to be on the edge of two territories.
Robins and Wrens prefer to be nearer the ground, hidden away and well sheltered, place open fronted boxes for theses species below 2 metres in the midst of bushes or similar vegetation.
Boxes for most species of Tits should be 2 – 4 metres high.  Tits will only become interested in nest boxes around February  or March.
Spotted flycatchers prefer to be 2 – 4 metres and you will have more luck with them if you site the box on a tree trunk with a clear outlook but some sheltering vegetation.
Woodpeckers will only be drawn to boxes on a tree trunk and these should be placed at least 3 metres high with a clear flight path and well away from disturbance. 

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You may also enjoy finding out more about birds and their preferred habitats by visiting the BTO National Nestbox Week site

 

    INTERESTING BIRD FACTS:

    Approximately ten thousand bird species share the world with humans. With over three thousand native species, South America is the world's bird capital. The rough world breakdown goes as follows:
    • South America: 3,200 bird species
    • Asia: 2,900 bird species
    • Africa: 2,300 bird species
    • North America (including Central America, Mexico, United States, Canada and Caribbean) 2,00 bird species
    • United States: 888 bird species
    • Australia: 1,700 bird species
    • Europe: 1,000 bird species
    • Antarctica: 65 bird species

      The arctic tern possibly holds the title as longest migrator, flying (round trip) 18,600 miles between the arctic and Antarctica.
      All birds molt and regrow their feathers. Approximately ninety bird species have gone extinct since 1681.
      The Passenger Pigeon, Carolina Parakeet, Labrador Duck and (probably) Ivory Billed-woodpecker are the most well known extinct native species.
      With approximately 425 species divided into approximately 100 genera, the tyrant flycatchers (Tyrannidae) are the world's largest bird family.
      The Ostrich (Struthio camelus) is the largest living bird.
      The Bee Hummingbird (Mellisuga helenae) is the world's smallest bird.
      The Peregrine Falcon gets credit as the world's fastest flying bird.
      While birds are known for their ability to fly, not all birds fly. Penguins, Ostrich, Rhea, Kiwi and a few duck and grebe species are among the world's flightless birds
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LINKS TO OTHER INTERESTING WEBSITES AND SOME USEFUL DIRECTORIES:

Why not visit Scott's AWLWA website (click on the banner below) where you can browse through their lovely photos and find out about their excellent work assisting injured wild creatures in the Forest of Dean area.

Thinking of visiting the Lake District or environs for a winter break? Then take a look at the really excellent winter birdwatching blog from Craig Manor full of information about what birds to see and where to find them! View it here: http://www.craigmanor.co.uk/a-lake-district-winter-birdwatching-guide/

We are very impressed with the wildlife photography and videos of westcountry researcher Ben Morrison - check out his work at: https://www.bmjmorrison.com/

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