THE BIRDS AND THE BEES
By Ann Evans
Photos courtesy of rspb-images.com
As a nation of wildlife lovers, encouraging the birds and bees to visit our gardens or even make their homes there, is a delightful and rewarding thing to do. What could be nicer than watching the antics of blue tits, sparrows, finches or any other bird, bathing in your garden bird bath or fluttering around your hanging bird feeders, enjoying the food you’ve put out for them?
With the numbers of many different species of birds and wild creatures diminishing year by year, whatever we can do to help provide a safe place for them to feed, breed and thrive in is hugely important.
The RSPB are currently asking everyone to ‘Give Nature a Home in Your Garden’ and a visit to their website provides a host of difference ideas and activities to attract wildlife, birds and insects to your garden.
Regardless of whether you have a large garden, a small garden, a balcony – or you want to involve the entire neighbourhood, the RSPB’s website has lots of ideas for you to do and make that will encourage nature. Check them out on line or download an activity pack.
You might, for example want to create a mini pond to help frogs, newts, dragonflies and other pond creatures. Or build a log pile from old dead would that makes for an ideal home for insects, frogs, newts, toads and even bees. Or how about creating a home especially for bees or bats, or the perfect places for swifts, starlings and sparrows to nest.
The RSPB point out that house sparrows in particular are in trouble. The overall population has halved because there are fewer places for them to live and feed. They explain that sparrows are sociable birds who like to nest in colonies. So if you’re able to provide nest boxes high up in trees or on houses, then you will be doing your bit in helping the humble house sparrow to survive in this country.
We chatted to RSPB Area Manager, Spiro Va’os at the recent BBC Garden’s World Live Show at the Birmingham NEC. Spiro was there encouraging people to join the RSPB. He explained how we can all do our bit to attract wildlife and birds to our gardens without a great deal of effort.
“We know that not everyone wants a wild looking garden but leave just a patch to grow naturally with nettles and brambles, said Spiro. “The most important thing is to attract the insects. When they come everything else will follow.”
He added, “If you have space, put feeders out for the birds. Also put water out for them. Something like a bin lid, or the trays for plant pots would do. The birds will use these to bathe in and drink from. You might think that in this country there’s no need to put water out for wildlife, but so much rainwater goes into the soil so it is necessary to provide fresh water for them.
“We also advocate feeding the birds all year round. Nothing is ripe this time of year – it’s still ripening. I’d say buy the best bird food that you can afford, but even cheap bird food is better than no bird food. They particularly love sunflower hearts and peanuts – obviously not salted peanuts though!”
Spiro pointed out that wild birds don’t eat poultry food and white bread is no good for them either.
He continued, “Never put bird food on the ground. If the food is on the ground, birds such as finches and blue tits will not come. However, it will attract pigeons and rodents and small birds are scared of large birds.”
The RSPB website is packed full of great advice for encouraging nature into our gardens. Why not take a look and see how you could make a difference. http://www.rspb.org.uk
OUR NATIONAL BIRD
The feisty robin red breast is the nation’s most popular bird – and that’s official. In a recent poll where almost 225,000 votes were cast, 34% – more than 75,000 votes, and almost three times as many votes as the bird in second place were for the robin.
In second place, taking 12% or the votes was the barn owl, and in third place with 11% of votes was the blackbird. The wren, the red kite and the kingfisher followed in 4th, 5th and 6th places respectively. While the mute swan, the blue tit, the hen harrier and the puffin completed our top ten favourite birds.
Photos courtesy of rspb-images.com