News archive

November 2018

Sunday, 11 November 2018

Swift conservation in Chester: Update

Swift conservation in Chester: Update

Now that swift populations are happily settled into their wintering grounds in the middle of Africa, here's a quick update on how the swift box scheme has been going this autumn.

As mentioned before, the scheme targeted areas in Chester that have existing colonies of birds, so that these boxes are more likely to be adopted quickly. To find residents who wanted to have a box installed, we did leaflet drops and some networking with local community groups. At the time of writing in early November, 33 boxes have been distributed. Of these, we have fitted 25 by our handyman Andrew Smith (see pic) and the others have been or will be installed by the homeowners. We hope to deliver or fit another five or six boxes before the end of autumn.

The main areas we have covered this year are Garden Quarter, Handbridge and Hoole. We are very grateful to The Naturesave Trust, who provided funding for most of the boxes and to CWAC, who funded us via Handbridge Community Association for the boxes in that ward. The boxes we have installed (Stimpson Model 30) are made of plywood with a uPVC roof for protection against sun and rain.

We hope to secure more funding to continue this work next spring, so we can cover other areas of Chester such as Upton and Newton. Please let us know if you or someone you know would be interested in having a swift box installed on your home. Even if you're not in a target area, we can help with sourcing boxes and advice on installation. Please e-mail the group website at

Wednesday, 7 November 2018

Great tit at birdtable

Top 10 bird feeding tips this winter

The winter can be a tough time of year for birds. But you can give them a helping hand, whether you have a big garden or a small windowbox. Here are our top 10 bird feeding tips.

1. Know your birds
Different species eat different things. Sparrows and finches like seeds; tits like fat; and thrushes and robins like fruit and worms. Starlings will eat just about anything. Make sure you're providing the right menu for your diners - find out what to feed birds.

2. Look out for leftovers...
Some of our own food can be good for birds - for example, fruit cake or mince pies, dried fruit, unsalted nuts, or apples and pears past their best. Try sprinkling grated mild cheese under trees and bushes for more timid birds like wrens and dunnocks.

3. But choose the right stuff...
Birds probably won't eat your unwanted Christmas Day sprouts and putting out turkey fat is a big no-no - it's so soft it'll stick to birds' feathers and stop them from keeping waterproof and warm. Avoid anything mouldy or salty (too much salt is poisonous to small birds).

4. Don't poison your pets!
Birds love dried fruit. But if you have a dog, don't put grapes, currants, raisins or sultanas within their reach. Vine fruits can be toxic to dogs (check the RSPCA's advice).

5. Keep water in bird baths and ponds unfrozen
Birds need to drink and bathe every day - even when it's really cold outside. A pond or bird bath is great, but even an upturned bin lid or plant saucer can give birds the water they need. We've got lots of useful tips on how to keep water from freezing.

6. Put out the right amount of food
Only put out what will get eaten during the day. This is important if you want to avoid unwanted visitors like rats. It'll also mean that there aren't big piles of mouldy food on your bird table.

7. Keep it clean!
Dirty bird feeders and bird tables can help spread diseases. Make sure you clean them regularly to keep your visitors healthy and happy. And always wash your hands after feeding the birds!

8. Location, location location!
Keep your table or feeder somewhere:
quiet - where birds won't be disturbed.
safe and open - to stop cat-ambushes and allow for a quick getaway
sheltered - from harsh cold winds, rain or snow.

9. Enjoy!
You've got a thriving feeding station and garden full of hungry visitors. It's time to take a moment to watch and enjoy the birds the happy birds feasting on the food you've provided!

10. Give yourself a pat on the back for giving nature a home
By feeding the birds in your garden, on your balcony or at your window, you'll help them get through what can be a tough time of year. You're a bird-feeding hero.