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Wild Birds

Bird watching goes back centuries and one of the best ways to see a wide variety of wild birds is to encourage them into your garden.  You'll be surprised how many different birds you will spot.  Rare visitors like the Waxwing have ventured into gardens searching for food in the depths of Winter and if you feed Nyjer Seed bright coloured Goldfinches or Blue Tits can entertain you with their acrobatics on your bird feeder all year round.

Why we should feed the birds

There are many reasons why feeding wild birds is a good idea.

  • Wild birds can play a vital role in the garden's ecosystem and you'll find that other wildlife soon follows.
  • It is also a great way of teaching children about wildlife and they can view the birds and their captivating antics at close quarters.
  • Most important though is that by feeding the birds you are helping them to survive.  We know that there has been a countrywide decline in the numbers of many birds, the House Sparrow is a case in point having declined by 95% in recent years.

It's thought that changes in agriculture have had a big impact on wild birds.  Hedges have been pulled out to make bigger fields, different crops are being grown, marshy areas are being drained and more fertilisers and pesticides are being used.  Our weather has an impact too.  Cold winters can kill a lot of birds through starvation and Summer drought not only dries up ponds and puddles but makes the ground so hard that Blackbirds and Thrushes can not dig for worms.
Both the RSPB and BTO (British Trust for Ornithology) approve of feeding the birds all year round.

  • In Spring the females need extra energy to produce eggs whilst the males are busy defending their territory.
  • Feeding the birds during the Summer months helps the adults stay well fed whilst foraging for their youngsters.
  • As Autumn gains pace wild birds need to build up their reserves of fat ready to face the cold weather ahead.
  • When Winter bites small birds need to eat 30 to 40% of their body weight daily to survive.

What birds will you see?

What wild birds you will see depends on the type of garden you have and your surroundings.  Even if you have no garden at all there are some bird feeders that can attach to walls and window frames that will attract wild birds.
The most common visitors to your garden are the chattering Starlings and House Sparrows; the songbirds such as Blackbirds and Song Thrushes, the friendly Blue Tits, Great Tits and Robins, cooing Collared Doves, colourful Greenfinches, Goldfinches and Chaffinches, as well as the quiet grey and brown Dunnocks and Wrens.
If you have deciduous woodland, orchards or water nearby you might see Nuthatches with their striking blue grey and orange colouring; Great Spotted Woodpeckers, tiny Treecreepers, Coal Tits and Marsh Tits and graceful Long-Tailed Tits.

  • During cold Winters you may be lucky enough to have Black Caps, Reed Buntings and salmon pink breasted Bramblings pop in.
  • Siskins are little members of the finch family and can sometimes be seen in gardens near pine forests as they love the conifer's seeds.

Gardens with neighbouring fields are visited by Fieldfares, Redwings and Mistle Thrushes.

  • On the rare occasion you could spot a bright little bird that looks like a canary calling in to pick at grain on the ground.  This is the Yellow Hammer and they live on arable farmland.
  • Some people in south east England have been astonished to see Ring Necked Parakeets feeding on their bird tables.   These birds are the UK's only naturalised parrot and were originally escaped pets that survived and bred to form colonies in the wild.