This weekend the RSPB are holding the Big Garden Birdwatch 2019, which lasts from 26th to the 28th of January. Get involved and see what species of bird turn up in your garden. It’s great fun for all the family and enables the RSPB to monitor and protect the birds that live throughout the UK.
The birds of Britain
Our broad and beautiful UK birds species are a communicative and multifaceted community with individual preferences and characteristics. Regional accents set them apart from one another, their population vary from area to area and each bird will have their particular eating habits.
Over in Wales, you’re likely to spot bullfinches at your feeders and, ironically, woodpigeons have flocked to London as their ideal nesting site. For people in the South, wrens and blue tits bless your gardens spaces and northern climates are highly populated with dunnocks.
With over 570 species here in the UK, there’s a whole array of beautiful birds to keep your eye out for and their behaviours are fairly easy to predict. So it shouldn’t take more than a few straightforward steps to encourage a diverse quantity of birds to your patch and, when you do, they’re an absolute joy to watch.
Being creatures of routine, once they’ve spotted a food source, they’ll regularly travel back to it—especially in winter when food is scarce, so keep those feeders topped us to avoid a wasted journey for our feathered friends.
Food for feathered friends
Sunflower hearts and other small seeds are perfect for house sparrows and finches, which crunch them up with their chunky beaks. Goldfinches love tiny nyger seeds, which you can hang up in special feeders.
For the insect-eating birds like robins, dunnocks and starlings, mealworms always go down a treat. Scatter them on the ground and watch the birds happily gobble them up. Eating fat, in the form of blocks, nibbles or balls, helps a variety of birds keep warm in the winter.
You’ll see blue tits, starlings and many others feasting on this in chilly weather. Smashed up old apples and pears on the lawn are ideal for blackbirds and thrushes. You may even attract winter visitors like fieldfares and redwings, which were drawn to gardens across the UK in last winter’s late cold snap.
It’s also good to make sure that there are plenty of berries that can carry food through to the winter time. Hollies and firethorn (Pyracantha) are adorned in masses of berries so they’re superb for this and are quite thorny, so offer great nest protection areas for birds.
Plenty of hedgerows and ground cover will see that your bird visitors remain protected from predators. It’s all about getting a balance in the garden so all the different creatures live harmoniously: insects, birds, amphibians and other garden mammals such as hedgehogs, all under one roof—or pergola, as the case may be, but If you get that balance right, all the creatures will benefit, especially the birds.
Be a part of something big
The RSPB’s Great British Birdwatch is a fun and educational annual event for the whole family. I am so looking forward to taking part again this year and my two daughters love getting involved. In 2018, the much-anticipated birdwatch saw 8 million birds counted and over 70,000 school joined the effort.
It’s brilliant to see so many people getting passionate about their garden wildlife, 86% of gardeners are now putting up feeders or providing a home for these magnificent creatures and it’s so important. Back in 1987 only 18 species of wild birds fed on supplementary food in the UK but now that figure stands at 130 species and this work is vital to better understand our native UK bird populations and how we can ensure future generations enjoy their beauty.