And the birds

parkMy window looks out over a park, and as the view becomes steadily more verdant, so the birds find fuller voice. I am far from an ornithologist, but as I ran around the park this morning, I saw a robin, blue tit, thrush, goldfinch, blackbird, magpie, a couple of alien parakeets and the ubiquitous pigeon.  The bird song is simply uplifting, a spring chorus for us all to savour.  It is nesting season, as March to August is the main breeding season for nesting birds, so no wonder they are in full voice.

With the knowledge that the Lawton review of England’s Wildlife Sites and Ecological Network, published by DEFRA in 2010, noted declines of more than 80% of farmland birds since the 1960s, including tree sparrows, corn buntings and turtle doves, I turned my attention to what I can do in my patch.  Over the last 20 years we have lost half to three-quarters of insect-eating birds.  Some of this is due to loss of their homes.  Lots of hedgerows have disappeared from farmland, and fences and walls are the norm in cities.

Growing a hedge with native and trees and shrubs provides food, shelter and somewhere to nest all in one.  At this time of year, the RSPB recommend that you avoid cutting hedges and trees.  It is actually an offence under Section 1 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act of 1981 to intentionally take, damage or destroy the nest of any wild bird while it is in use, or being built.  The RSPB website has free guides to growing a hedge and making it a home for birds.

In the last 12 years, 53% of swifts have disappeared from the South East of England, according to Swift Conservation.  Swifts, with their long, scythe-like wings and a short, forked tail, form a familiar silhouette in our summer skies when they arrive to breed.    As they nest under eaves and gables, renovations and new buildings have disturbed many of their nesting sites, particularly as swifts often nest in the same holes and crevices for years.  Swifts are easily disturbed, so try to avoid doing any roof repairs or other work during the nesting season from May to August.

The best place to install a swift box is under the eaves of your roof, or a similar overhang, as this will provide some protection from the weather, in a shaded area. It should be at least 5 metres off the ground and away from climbers or nearby trees, so it is less accessible to predators such as crows, magpies, squirrels and cats.  Once installed, you do not need to clean out the boxes.  Swift Conservation have a number of D.I.Y. designs for swift boxes and information on swift bricks and NHBS sell a large range of bird boxes suitable for swifts and other birds.
bbA Bird Brick House is a permanent home for swifts, sparrows, and many other small to medium sized UK birds.  The box can be included as a new build, or retro-fited without cutting bricks.  The boxes are suitable for render, brick work or weather-boarding, for residential and commercial buildings.  The back box is made from 100% recycled plastic and the removable front with a fascia of real brick can blend the surrounding wall.  Bird Brick House make a range of boxes to suit the nesting habits of a variety of birds and bats.  Prices start from £70 +VAT.

If space is not such premium and you could make your own sparrows nest box to attach to a wall or tree.  The RSPB offers a free DIY guide to building a nest for house sparrows that takes about 3-4 hours.  If you do not have a tree, you substitute with a “Branch” bird feeder handmade in Cornwall from solid English Ash from Green and Blue,  priced at £35.

BLOGr&rLN25AOr follow this fun and thifty suggestion from LoveBessie to reuse a milk or soup carton as a home for our feathered friends, reproduced here by kind permission.  The reduce and recycle projects are on the backs of cards from LoveBessie’s Lolita Nolita collection.  ‘No lita’, get it? The playful designs share Love-ly messages. Simply wash out your old carton thoroughly; draw a window on each of the sides 60mm up from the base; cut out the windows; punch a hole in the top to loop the string and tie with a secure knot; fill the base with birdseed; and voila enjoy the spectacle.

For those not so confident of their DIY skills, I love the colours of this bird house (pictured below) from Traidcraft, that has been woven from rope made from twisted, recycled, misprinted sweet wrappers (priced at £10).31086

Bird food is widely available from supermarkets, garden centres, and of course the RSPB (all profits support their work).  Many household scraps are also a suitable and inexpensive way of feeding birds, but while suet, dried fruits and rice are popular, there are a few don’ts, such as milk or fat from cooked meat. The RSPB provides a comprehensive round up of what to feed, to whom, how and when!

So if you have a few spare moments this long Easter weekend, create a home for some real eggs to hatch.

Photo credits: LoveBessie, Traidcraft

6 thoughts on “And the birds

  1. Pingback: Food for Thought-Birds of Caution | From guestwriters

  2. Pingback: Report swifts in Britain | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  3. Pingback: British government plans to kill robins | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  4. Pingback: Swifts in an old city | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  5. Wow, amazing blog layout! Howw long have you
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