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From the beginning of March until the end of May most gardens in Britain become a hive of activity with birds, insects and other wildlife becoming more prominent, and many flowers starting to bloom.Our ‘Spring in to Nature’ campaign will focus on providing useful content for anyone interested in the behaviour of their garden birds and who wants to make their garden a bit more nature friendly. We will provide tips on how to transform your garden into a haven for birds, bees and all other manner of wildlife by making some simple adjustments.
As this campaign is going to be focussed on attracting more of Britain’s wildlife into the garden, we will also be running the occasional photography competition based on a certain theme. Make sure to keep an eye out for these competitions, and to keep your camera handy for a chance to win.
We hope that everything we provide over the coming months will be useful to a good number of nature lovers and that you are ready to spring in to nature too!
Breeding season is well under way with many wild birds looking for mates. Wild birds have different ways of attracting a prospective partner, and we are going to look at what Robins do when trying to attract a mate.
Robins are one of the most recognisable British birds as well as being one of the most popular, and while Robins are associated with winter and Christmas, they are much more prevalent in British gardens throughout spring and early summer.
One of the most obvious ways in which male Robins try to impress their female counterparts is through singing. Robin song can often be one of the first and last bird songs to be heard in a day. Male Robins will sing tirelessly throughout the day in order to attract a prospective partner, often staying in a single tree or alternating between two or three singing points that mark their territory.
One of the things that female Robins find most attractive about males is their territory. Female Robins are always looking for a partner that will provide them with the best opportunity to raise a healthy clutch of chicks. This means that if a male Robin is in control of a territory that has an abundance of food, shelter and nesting materials, it is a more attractive prospect than a male that controls a lesser territory. Because of this the most lucrative territories are often fought over fiercely by opposing male Robins, with some fights even being to the death. Singing is a way for male Robins to broadcast that they control a certain territory, and by singing for as long as possible the male Robin increases the chances of a nearby female Robin hearing him.
Once a female Robin has shown an interest in a male and his territory, it is up to the male to prove that he can provide for the female. To do so male Robins will fetch food and feed it directly to females, this behaviour is often misconstrued as an adult feeding a young Robin.
So if you hear a Robin singing throughout the day in your garden, and you see one Robin feeding another, it is likely that you will be seeing some Robin fledglings about your garden later on in the year.
It is the beginning of March and Blackbirds are starting to make their nests. Here are some simple ways to help them on their big builds.
Blackbirds tend to make their nests from moss, dried grass, leaves and mud. Providing some of these materials in your garden is a great way to help your Blackbirds get off to a good start building their nests. Creating a compost pile in your garden is a brilliant way to provide a multitude of garden wildlife with materials and food whilst getting rid of unwanted vegetable and plant cuttings. Blackbirds will naturally be interested in fetching suitable materials that are easily available, and by having a compost heap in your garden, you will be providing your Blackbirds with multiple materials to choose from in a single location.
Another way to create a materials station that Blackbirds can pick from in your garden is by pruning your plants. Off cuts of plants and fallen leaves make excellent building materials for Blackbirds, and when pruning plants in your garden you are immediately creating these materials with the fallen leaves and excess plant pieces otherwise going to waste. The local Blackbirds will be happy to do your recycling for you. Once you have completed your pruning, moving all of the fallen leaves and off cuts into a pile in one area of the garden will provide a great selection of nest-building materials for Blackbirds to pick through, as well as providing natural shelter for small creepy crawlies living in your garden.
Spring in to Nature Mini Tip:
If you have a dog that moults, brush their fur in the garden and let the moulted hair settle naturally in bushes and against trees. Many wild birds will use it to line their nests!
Mealworms are one of the best foods to provide in the garden for wild birds during the breeding season. Find out why.
Apart from during spells of very cold weather, breeding season is the most energy depleting time of year for wild garden birds. Between trying to attract a mate, building a nest and hunting for food, wild birds have got their work cut out for them on a daily basis during the breeding season. Because every day is so busy for wild birds at this time of year, and due to the fact that they won’t only be looking for enough food to sustain themselves, getting enough protein is essential.
One food available for wild garden birds which has the highest protein content is mealworms. 1KG of mealworms is equivalent to the amount of protein provided by 10 protein shakes or 22 chicken drumsticks. Mealworms aren’t just a brilliant food for wild birds; they could be a great healthy food for humans too!
These small beetle larvae are extremely high in protein and energy, they are generally available dried or as a live food. Dried mealworms provide all of the goodness of live mealworms except for the moisture that live mealworms offer, however you can replicate the moisture that live mealworms offer by soaking dried mealworms in warm water. Dried mealworms are considerably easier to look after too, with them just needing to be stored in a cool dry place. Live mealworms on the other hand need to be kept in a cool dark place with a source of food such as bran, and a source of moisture such as banana skins or potato peelings. One of the bonuses of keeping live mealworms though, is that you can potentially breed them and create a sustained source of food for your wild garden birds.
Spring in to Nature Mini Tip:
Mealworms aren’t just a favourite food for wild garden birds, hedgehogs love them too!
Many wild birds are looking for nesting materials from March to May, placing some useful materials about your garden for them is a great way to help.
There are plenty of everyday materials that wild birds will use when making their nests, and by placing some of them around your garden you will make life easier for any birds that are hunting for suitable nesting materials. Many wild birds line their nests with hair, and by providing any leftover hair in your garden from brushing your dog, horse or any other pet that moults, you are leaving a great source of nest lining material available for the local birds to capitalise on.
If you have any bushes or hedging in your garden, it is a good idea to place some of the hair that you collect in and amongst this shrubbery, as this is where these materials would generally come to rest in the wild. If you don’t have any bushes or hedgerows in your garden, you can provide any nesting materials in a hanging cage such as a suet feast feeder. We tend to use our spiral feeders for providing nesting materials outside of our office on Brinvale Farm throughout the spring.
If you do not own a furry pet or a pet that moults, you can still provide other nesting materials in your garden. There are plenty of materials that your garden birds will find useful. Any grass cuttings created when mowing the lawn can be left out for wild birds to take advantage of, along with any moss acquired when cleaning up areas of the garden. Weeding can also yield plenty of potential nest building materials, as can pruning. You can also buy natural British sheep’s wool and provide that as a source of nesting material in your garden.
Alternatively we have a range of different Nest Boxes that your flying friends would love!
Spring in to Nature Mini Tip:
If you have any old whisks going unused in your kitchen, you could always hang them up in your garden and fill them with nesting materials for your local birds.
You don't have to spend hours on your garden to make it more friendly for wildlife.
At times we know gardening can be a little bit of a chore, especially as work on it can never finish! It is however a great tool at our disposal in order to attract wild birds and other wildlife into our gardens. We all know that providing certain types of food will attract certain types of birds, siskins will turn up for sunflower hearts and blackbirds coming for mealworms etc. There are also natural magnets you can put in your garden that will not only add colour for yourself to look at but will attract the birds in their numbers! The best and most simple ways to do this are:
- Planting Bird Friendly Vegetation - plants such as firethorns or pyracantha's produce berries that birds love.
- Creating insect friendly environments - most birds love eating insects, if you keep a healthy lawn, flower bed or even
- Siting Nest Boxes - Having a home for birds will extend the amount of time they spent in your garden.
Spring in to Nature Mini Tip:
Read our gardening blog for more information on creating the ultimate paradise for wild birds.