We spend a lot of time thinking about pollinators in summer – so much so that we tend to sideline birds a little. How’s your garden bird population? Have you noticed the much-reported sparrow and starling decline or are you, like me here in Lincolnshire, inundated with the little blighters?
I do love them of course, and enjoy watching their antics – the daily jostle between sprightly little sparrows and screechy, squabbling starlings (along with a couple of fat pigeons and a collared dove) is a daily noisefest, but a welcome part of the furniture around my house. My garden’s thankfully starting to bring in more species, which I put down to a wide variety of plants and different types of feed.
It’s recommended that we feed birds just as much in summer as in winter, particularly as birds are nesting officially up until the end of August and they – and their chicks – can benefit from the extra sustenance we provide. If you’d like a range of birds, don’t just opt for the cheap mixed seed; offer a full spread of suitable food to attract lots of species.
Try to buy good quality, wheat and grass-free seed and chopped peanuts, and put them out regularly, along with niger seed to bring in goldfinches and siskins. Supplement this with crumbled cake, cheese, bread and chopped up fruit, but make sure to cover these up so they don’t get soggy and go mouldy. Clean your bird feeders every time you fill them up. Failure to keep them clean harbours and spreads avian diseases.
Natural food is important, too. A tree of any kind will support birds, as will a range of berried shrubs, insect and slug-attracting plants and flowers, and plants with seed heads. Often it’s not the seeds they’re after from them, it’s the insects inside they pick out as a tasty snack.