Wednesday, 11 May 2011

More food please… keep feeding the birds

Although we are into May and the snow and cold are almost a distant memory our garden birds need us to put out food more regularly now than ever. In reality… if they could ask themselves I’d say they’d request more please :-)

Pre blog I really thought it was just during the cold months they needed the extra food at our garden bird feeders and tables. However, after a few years of watching the garden I now know to expect to go through a lot more seed at this time of year when nesting is in full swing.


Photo through window. Birds move so quickly.


Yes, and I guessed Blackbirds would be the first to collect seed in beakfuls! I have seen at least two different males take advantage of the most popular food to go in my garden… sunflower hearts.

Having a fast growing, noisy crew back at the nest it isn’t surprising that Blackbirds (especially the males) can get quite aggressive over their finds of food. I tend to put out smaller amounts of food in a few new/different spots so there’s enough for everyone. Hope that helps :-)


Video shows seed beakfuls in action. Note second clip with bird still.
Guessing a Sparrowhawk was about. Gentle background music.


Just as the new arrivals of Blackbird juveniles arrive in the garden (where they will still demand to be fed for a little longer yet) I expect to see the Starlings going away with beakfuls of sunflower hearts for their even noisier crews back at their nests.

House Sparrows can’t be far off bringing their chicks to the feeders too. They will give them sunflower hearts too but I have seen them favour the other energy rich food of fatballs too. I’ve just spotted one looking at my cage for them.

I should probably put fresh fatballs out and mix up the arrangement of my feeders to spread the birds arriving at them out as that helps in periods of high demand! It also gives new birds passing by a new chance to see them too. However, the regular birds can need time to adapt to the new arrangement but I’ve a feeling they will do so very quickly just now.


Screen grab from video.


Also looking out just now I can see that it’s time to refill the ground feeders for today. Being honest, I’m looking forward to the arrival of the new 2011 Blackbird arrivals. I do have a soft spot for them. I wonder how long they will be in coming here.

Being equally honest… I can’t say I’ll be looking forward to the Starling arrivals. However, they can be quite entertaining to watch. Of all the parent birds that visit my garden, I’d award the Starlings the medal for effort in parenting and without a doubt they really need the extra food to help them with their chicks.

I’m guessing there are chicks already arriving in gardens in other parts of the country/world. Which ones are arriving in your garden just now and who would you give the parent medal to?

Finally, regular blog visitors might be wondering about a Blue tit diary for 2011. There isn’t yet a story to tell for this year but it doesn’t look likely. However, I have found with my gardenwatching for the last few years. It’s not over… until it’s over :-))


This post was written by Shirley for http://blog.shirlsgardenwatch.co.uk/

14 comments:

David Marsden said...

Hi Shirley, lovely photos. I do have to say though that I find the amount of bird food being consumed now is much, much less than say three months ago!! Where I work (the Priory) there are four feeders and, for example, the large seed feeder would need filling every day during the winter and early spring. Now it lasts for maybe three days. Odd that in your garden consumption seems to have ramped up. Wonder why there's such a difference.

Cher' Shots said...

We always get such a kick out of watching the young starlings nearing full grown stage still begging food from Mom. lol
'hugs from afar'

Green Lane Allotments said...

The BTO changed advice on feeding birds in spring and summer a while ago too didn't they? We have bought live mealworms for our parent birds to collect for their young (on advice from a RSPB guy we were talking to at a local reserve). The blackbirds love them too but I admit to leaving my husband to deal with them as I am too squeamish

HappyMouffetard said...

Wonderful, Shirl!
It's exciting to see rarer visitors, but my absolute favourite birds are the blackbirds. Their song is just so wonderful, and it always saddens me when they stop singing in July time. Strangely, ours don't seem keen on the sunflower hearts. They just can't get enough sultanas though.
By the way - I hope your poppies do turn out a different colour for you (though at the moment, I can't get enough of the blue!)

Lisa at Greenbow said...

Shirley, it is amazing how many seeds this momma can cram into her mouth. I am with you on the Starlings. They are pests. We have had our first younguns brought to the feeders by the House Finches just yesterday. The house sparrows can't be far behind. The Cardinals get my bid for best parents. The Male and Female tend the young. They are very attentive.

ShySongbird said...

Hi Shirl, I have noticed for the last few years that at this time of year the food is consumed faster than I can fill the feeders and tables. It costs me a fortune in bird food even though I buy in bulk!

I have seen Blackbirds with beaks full of worms etc. but not seed like you show, great video and capture! I must watch mine more closely.

I noticed a young Greenfinch all aflutter in the garden yesterday :)

Have a good weekend Shirl.

Christina said...

I know seeds and fruit are good, but I thought that fat wasn't so good for the birds in spring when they have young. I also heard that if it is very dry (I keep hearing it is in the UK) then one thing you can do to help the blackbirds is to heavily water a patch of ground that will then attract worms for them. We have too many magpies - seems like hundreds of them. Christina

Shady Gardener said...

Thank you so much for the reminder, Shirl! :-) I've kept out a minimum, but perhaps I'd better put more out! At least for awhile!!

Midmarsh John said...

Yes Shirl. I can conform that my seed supply is vanishing rapidly this week since the baby rearing season started. Two lots of fledgling Blackbirds appeared in the garden today. Hungry, hungry, hungry!

Midmarsh John said...

confirm not conform - sheesh, another senior moment lol.

shirl said...

Hello everyone. Sorry, missed my replies here. Will come back tomorrow. It’s a tad late tonight. Hoping you all had a great weekend :-)

shirl said...

Hi again everyone :-) Delighted to report first Blackbird juvs have arrived in garden!

David, Thanks. Interesting, my feeding will be behind yours in time anyway but perhaps the fact that I’m in a small town with small gardens all around changes the feeding habits of birds. Not everyone feeds birds but there are many nesting around here. Blackbirds are feeding fledged chicks and Starlings are now running away with beakfuls too – making a noise about it of course!

Cher, Yes, I know what you mean about the starling juvs. Parents are taking beakfuls for them now… no drumroles necessary to signal their chicks into the garden. Hello again :-)

Green Lane, being honest never heard the BTO advice although have heard RSPB mention it. Oooooo… live mealworms! They won’t last long. Dunnocks and Starlings will take them too. I bought a special feeder for mine which only the smaller birds could get in to help a single Mum Blue tit a few years ago. She was too late in finding it and her chicks died. It was a bad year for caterpillars :-(

Happy, I couldn’t agree more. I love to watch the Dunnocks too. I agree, Blackbirds are very tuneful. I love to hear them in the evening especially. Funnily enough by July the garden kind of takes over my attention and I didn’t notice they go silent. That is a shame. Ah yes…. They love sultanas here too. I tend to pace them out. I could go through an absolute fortune in them with the Starlings having sat nav for them!! Yay…. I did get a yellow poppy! Yes, I still love the blue too – especially after rain :-0

John, ah yes. I might have guessed you were having the same stock issue as here. You have quite a number of regular visitors with you. Great to hear you have fledgling Blackbirds too. I think it’s just the one group we have for now but I’m expecting another. The starling parents are running away with seed now. Guessing you have the same now too. BTW Great news on your Great tit nest. Best wishes to all there :-D

Juliet said...

My parent award goes to our male blackbird - for dive-bombing and attacking a sparrowhawk which had caught one of his chicks. The hawk was plucking and eating the chick at the bottom of our garden - the blackbird was going frantic, alarm calling and flying straight at the sparrowhawk and hitting it on the head, not caring at all that he was putting himself in danger (thankfully the hawk just ignored him).

I felt so torn - glad the hawk got some dinner, but so sorry for the blackbird, especially as the hawk was eating the chick right in front of him, which seemed like adding insult to injury :'(

shirl said...

Juliet, I agree your Blackbird did deserve its medal there! I would have hated to have witnessed that one. Like you, I do understand the hawk has to eat too. I'd just rather they didn't stay in my garden with their dinner.