It’s that most wonderful time of year (and with Santa’s pending visit) when folk want to put out food for Santa’s reindeer. Now there is no doubt that Rudolf, Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, Blitzen would appreciate the odd carrot and some oats to munch on, it’s worth bearing other wildlife in mind when providing festive food. Birds, for example, will readily polish off any food left out for the reindeer.
Whilst we wholly understand peoples desire to make food attractive, festive glitter can potentially be harmful to birds, so it is best avoided. Why not consider adding some colourful fruit instead; think cranberries, blueberries or apple!
So as to prevent food being taken by unwanted garden visitors, such as rats, why not put the food in a dish or trough up off the ground. If you want to be creative, there is no harm in breaking out the water-based paints and decorating the outside of the trough.
Have a Happy Christmas!The Wildlife team
We’re starting to get a few calls about birds attacking a whole host of shiny, reflective things: windows, door handles, cars, TV aerials, metal chimneys, to name a few. We are right at the beginning of the breeding season, and some birds are busy sorting out territories and then defending them from intruders with a vengeance! These defensive birds see their reflection as another bird coming into their territory and start attacking it. Birds can get tunnel vision, and this behaviour can become obsessive, as every time they go to this area, they see the same bird is back to invade! On the whole, birds don’t injure themselves, although the excitement during the fight can be a little messy and may need clearing up. However, larger birds such as Crows can attack windows with such velocity, that they can cause themselves some harm through the repeated drumming on the reflective surface, but they should recover from their minor injuries.
The key to changing this behaviour is to stop the bird from seeing its reflection. Closing curtains and blinds does not stop the bird from seeing its reflection in the glass, so any deterrents ideally need to be on the outside of the window. Putting cling film on the outside of the window can defuse the bird’s reflection, hanging old CDs or strips of foil can sometimes scare the birds away from the area. Some people use greenhouse shading or put newspaper over the windows as a temporary measure. Put bags or old towels over door handles and car wing mirrors. If the car is being attacked, a car cover is a quick and economical way of saving your car’s paintwork! It’s difficult to predict how long this behaviour will continue if you choose not to take any measures, but some birds can be particularly blinkered. I did talk to a lady who put her Christmas decorations up on the outside of the window being attacked, which worked at scaring the birds away although she did get some odd comments from her neighbours! I also spoke to a man who watched a Blue Tit fall asleep on the bonnet of his car, due to it being worn out from attacking its reflection in the windscreen – you couldn’t make it up!
Blackbird collecting nesting material - Andy Hay (rspb-images.com)
We’re already getting some calls about birds that are already nesting and some already have chicks! It’s not too late to put a nest box up, so check out the range we sell on the link below. Don’t forget that any active nest is protected by law (Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981), so once a bird starts to build a nest, you need to leave it alone until the chicks have left naturally. Hopefully we’ll have a fantastic spring and summer and our bird life will have a successful breeding season.
Hope you all had a great Christmas and Happy New Year to you all.
Over the festive break I’ve been watching the birds in my garden. There was nothing out of the ordinary; apart from a Greenfinch spotted two days running, which is a rare sight these days. There was also a mixture of Tits, Blackbirds, Robins, Dunnocks and a charm of Chaffinches on a daily basis. A Fieldfare was another unusual visitor.
I also saw a female Blackcap, alone on the fat ball feeder. These rather plain looking warblers can often be seen in the winter months, as birds from Northern Europe migrate to the UK to over winter in the milder conditions, rather than migrating south to the Mediterranean. While our native birds head south for winter, these winter migrants can often be seen on feeders in gardens. They are known for not sharing the feeders and will chase other birds away while they are trying to feed. They will even defend feeders if they think the regular food is worth fighting for. As their name would suggest, the male has a black cap and the female has a chestnut-brown cap, but otherwise they look the same. They are about the size of a Chaffinch, but have a slender, dark beak. Juveniles have a chestnut-brown cap, which can make them hard to distinguish from the females. They can sometimes become regular visitors, especially in colder weather, so it’s worth keeping an eye on your feeders.
So far, the winter has been a bit strange weather wise, from snow and haw frosts to mild sunny days, but we are now going through another unsettled period with winter storms crossing the country with a vengeance! Whatever the weather, enjoy the wildlife around you.
Male Blackcap - Paul Chesterfield (rspb-images.com)
You may or may not be aware that our Big Garden Bird Watch is taking place at the end of January on the 24th and 25th, and you can register on our web site now to take part. Don’t worry if you don’t have time to register before the event, you can still do your count and then summit your results on our web site afterwards (see link below). Keep your feeders topped up as natural food will be diminishing by now. Also try to keep your birdbaths topped up, or defrosted depending on the weather, and take a look at our on line shop for food, feeders and birdbaths to encourage the bird life into your garden.