A YOUNG BIRDING INSPIRATION
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.