A YOUNG BIRD­ING IN­SPI­RA­TION

Bird Watching (UK) - - Garden Birds -

OU’RE NEVER TOO young to start feed­ing birds. Rebecca Hammett, aged 12, is a keen na­ture-lover, as well as a pub­lished au­thor and blog­ger, and loves watch­ing the many birds in her Bed­ford­shire gar­den. Here, she tells us the se­crets of her suc­cess… When we moved into our house, there were no feed­ers in the gar­den – and few birds. Now we have two feed­ing sta­tions, and loads of birds visit ev­ery day. It’s re­ally easy to get started – here’s how! The first thing to do, of course, is start putting out food. In the win­ter, I’ve found the best things to of­fer are peanuts (prefer­ably sliced or chopped as they are eas­ier for birds to di­gest, and min­imise chok­ing), suet pel­lets, fat balls and seed. We also put out food scraps such as cooked rice and chopped ba­con rind (Robins love ba­con), and Black­birds love to peck at ap­ple cores. How­ever, come sum­mer, seed, nuts and chopped fruit are more suit­able. Feed­ing birds doesn’t have to be ex­pen­sive. If you’re on a low bud­get, look at lo­cal gar­den cen­tres or shops such as Wilko. They of­fer a wide range of feed­ing sta­tions and food. I rec­om­mend putting up a feed­ing sta­tion. These can cost any­thing from £7 to £70, so do some re­search! In Jan­uary, I bought a new feed­ing sta­tion from Wilko, along with two seed feed­ers, a squir­rel-proof nut feeder and a fat ball feeder, and it

Yhas proved a great suc­cess, with Long-tailed Tits, Great Tits, Coal Tits, Song Thrushes, Black­birds, Robins, Dun­nock and Goldfinch vis­it­ing reg­u­larly. If you don’t want a feed­ing sta­tion, though, hang feed­ers from trees or from a bracket on a fence or wall.

HOW TO KEEP BIRDS COM­ING BACK

Re­mem­ber to keep your feed­ers topped up, or birds might go else­where! Also, make sure you vary the food you put out. I tend to have kib­bled peanuts out through­out the year in a squir­rel-proof feeder, and at least three feed­ers, each hold­ing a dif­fer­ent seed mix, and fat balls or pel­lets as well as food scraps. Vary­ing the food you of­fer al­lows birds to pick what they want and main­tain a health­ier diet. It will also en­sure they keep com­ing back to your gar­den.

HOW TO MAKE YOUR OWN PINE CONE FEED­ERS

All you need are pine cones, wire, suet or lard, along with seed, cheese, chopped nuts and raisins. First, wind the wire round the cone, leav­ing enough to hang it up with. Chop the lard/suet and leave at room tem­per­a­ture to soften for 10 min­utes be­fore adding the seed and raisins. Coat the cones with this mix and put in the fridge to chill, be­fore hang­ing out­side.

Get a nut feeder. These should be squir­rel­proof, as the pesky mam­mals can chew through wire mesh and will de­stroy your feeder.

Buy a feed­ing tray to scat­ter seed on. These can be placed on the ground or on rings at­tached to feed­ing sta­tions. Birds such as Col­lared Dove, Wood­pi­geon, Robin and Dun­nock fre­quently visit them. If you don’t like Wood­pi­geons steal­ing all the food, buy a caged ground feeder.

Get a fat ball/suet feeder. They’re great for pro­vid­ing what birds need, es­pe­cially in win­ter. Suet comes in a va­ri­ety of forms, in­clud­ing pel­lets, balls and cakes. How­ever, re­mem­ber to re­move any mesh be­fore putting it out.

To en­cour­age as many dif­fer­ent species into the gar­den as pos­si­ble, try to in­clude sev­eral fea­tures. Birds like a source of fresh wa­ter to wash in or drink, a hedge to shel­ter in, a lawn and flower beds with in­sect-at­tract­ing plants. Also try to leave your gar­den a lit­tle bit un­tidy in the win­ter – cre­ate a leaf-pile for Black­birds to rum­mage through, in search of in­sects.

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