Bird feeders

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Avoid poor quality bird mixes as these can feature split peas and lentils.Small birds will not be able to digest cat or dog biscuits but wet foods are a nutritious choice.If your pooch or moggy has turned its nose up at their meal then the garden birds could be in for a feast.Dont feed cooked porridge oats to the birds and this food will quickly harden around beaks and prevent the birds from eating and drinking.Uncooked oats are fine as are most other breakfast cereals but these should be fed in moderation as they will contain salt.You may have seen many endearing pictures of blue tits pecking at milk bottles but you should never offer milk to any bird.A bird’s gut is not designed to digest it and so drinking milk can result in serious stomach upsets.Stale and mouldy food certainly wont help the birds and could lead to serious health issues.Feeding garden birds has become one of the most popular pastimes in the UK.Scientists at and have now revealed that our love of birds is really making a difference and in ways you might not have imagined.We are impacting avian behaviour and ecology but also the evolution of many species.Evolution generally progresses slowly with changes appearing over the course of thousands or millions of years.But with our garden birds, changes have occurred over just a few decades.Birds with longer beaks can [ snaffle] more food than their shorter-billed rivals and boast a better survival rate.They then pass the useful attribute to their offspring.Avian behaviour is changing dramatically too.There are rich pickings to be had in urban gardens and it hasnt taken long for birds to discover this.The nutritious food began to attract a greater number of species to gardens.During one episode, Bill Oddie suggested providing mealworms for adult birds who needed to feed their chicks.This sparked a nationwide shortage of mealworms! The series also demonstrated that we should feed birds throughout the year.Bird feeders can have the unfortunate side effect of benefitting larger and more aggressive species to the detriment of other birds who would have naturally inhabited our gardens.This issue can be tackled by ensuring that your garden is planted with shrubs which provide natural sources of FOOD.Berry bushes give birds choices and could mean that all species find their fair share of goodies without having to compete against each other.There are other fabulous benefits of feeding birds which are often overlooked.Feeders help people to connect with nature and to value our native species.Disabled and elderly people who cant visit the countryside are able to continue connecting with nature on their own doorsteps.Who would have thought it? Feeding birds has inspired significant changes in behaviour and has accelerated evolution.In helping birds to survive, we have changed their lives in unexpected ways while gaining a great amount of enjoyment ourselves.It is vital that we continue to explore the impact of bird feeding so that we do what is best for the birds.We are meddling in nature for the right reasons [] but] should guard against the unintended consequences of our actions which disrupt the ecosystem.With autumn is on the way, many gardeners launch on a major tidy up mission in order to keep their properties neat and organised over the ensuing months.But neat and tidy isnt what the local wildlife will be looking for! The birds, animals and insects that visit gardens throughout the autumn and winter months would prefer a less-ordered approach from their hosts.Heres our guide to creating a nature-friendly garden which will attract more wildlife and help a variety of creatures to prosper.You might be feeling the urge to manicure your garden but it is important to resist the temptation to cut everything back in the autumn.Dont clear away fallen leaves and decaying plants.The leaves create a comfortable layer for mammals and insects to use as shelter when temperatures drop.Hollow stems, seed pods and window boxes can also be safe havens for insects when the frost begins to bite.Any leaves that you do wish to clear for aesthetic or safety reasons can be swept up and piled way in a corner where hedgehogs can use them as a cosy home.Any old wood and cut branches can also be piled up as the rotting wood encourages fungi & other detritivores which provide food for wildlife.Avoid cutting any ivy back as this is a great plant for wildlife year-round.Most nectar-rich plants start to die off in the Autumn but the flowers of ivy are just starting to come into bloom, providing a great source of food for bees, butterflies and other pollinators.The evergreen leaves of ivy offer valuable shelter for garden birds and insects when much of the available cover is dying out.If your garden doesnt feature any ivy, plant some!Many garden birds appear to vanish in September and October and you might be left wondering where your feathered friends have gone.This is normal behaviour as the birds travel farther afield in search of berry-rich hedgerows.In the colder months, dont feel guilty about leaving your garden less manicured.What you see as mess might well represent salvation for many of the creatures which visit.You could also take the time over the winter to plan a wildlife friendly garden which is planted to feature more berries and sources of nectar.A less ordered, informal garden will encourage greater natural diversity and could mean that you have to do less work.If you love birds and want to learn about wild birds in Britain then here are some interesting facts to get you started.In other countries Robins are very shy, hiding in deep woodland, but in Britain they are bolder.All bird lovers will know this one.Birds are actually warm blooded meaning their eggs need to be kept warm and incubated.If they do not keep warm then the embryos will die.Feathers have more uses than just flight.As well as facilitating flight they are also used for display, camouflage, and warmth.Feathers are unique to birds, if an animal has feathers then it has to be a bird.This is their defining characteristic.If you are lucky enough to spot one then take a look at how quickly they drill into the trees.In spring adult birds are searching for insects for their young.Consider putting some bird seeds in your garden to help them out.Robins spend most of their life defending their territory.They are fiercely territorial and only relax when the weather is very cold and they need to focus on getting food.Ten per cent of older robins die defending their territory.Blue tits are very intelligent birds and can work out very clever ways to get to food.If you put your bird box up in the autumn then it will have some time to weather and become more homely for the birds.The birds then can take the time to look for the perfect nest before breeding season starts.They love to spread their wings and bask in the sunshine, see if you can spot a sunbathing blackbird this summer.We have made several such calls to action here on the Little Peckers blog.But you may not be aware of the reasons why birds need our help.