As we move towards the spring months, it's a great time to look at your garden - not just from a human perspective, but also from a bird's eye view and help our dwindling birdlife thrive and survive...
Last weekend (January 25-27) around half a million people were out and about counting birds in their gardens for the RSPB’s annual Big Garden Birdwatch.
For one hour every year over the last four decades, the RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch is now the largest garden wildlife citizen science project in the world, with hundreds of thousands of people volunteering their time to provide the RSPB with nearly 9 million hours of monitoring garden birds!
According to the RSPC, over the last 40 years, 137 million birds have been counted giving the RSPB an astonishing amount of insight into how our wildlife is faring.
The Big Garden Birdwatch was one of the first surveys to alert the RSPB to the decline in the number of song thrushes in gardens. This species was a firm fixture in the top 10 in 1979, but 30 years later its numbers are apparently less than half those recorded in 1979.
The RSPB says Britain has lost 40 million birds in the last 50 years and 56% of wildlife species in the UK are now in decline, so it’s more important than ever to encourage and support the bird community in our own back gardens.
Birds need water for drinking and bathing and this is particularly important both during the winter when natural supplies may be frozen and also in dry, hot weather during the summer when water can be hard to find. Make sure bird baths are safe and preferably out of reach of cats and other predators… you can put simple saucers of water up on bird tables.
Birds will eat a while variety of foods including general household scraps, and food shortages can happen at any time of year depending on the climate. Food should be placed up high away from cats and dogs - either on bird tables or in hanging dispensers. Make sure if you’re using scraps that you chop things up into tiny pieces. Large bits of bread for example are choking hazards, particularly when they’re being passed on to chicks.
There are fewer and fewer safe places for birds to nest in an increasingly urban landscape, so providing a few nesting boxes around your garden will greatly help the local birdlife and give you lots of enjoyment watching them going back and forth. As we come into nesting season, it's a great time to buy some boxes.
Birds are just one part of the food chain and greatly rely on the insect population to keep them going, so the more you can attract butterflies, lacewings, bees and overflies into your garden the better. And don't forget, birds will keep down aphids, moths and spiders! Planting lots of flowering plants for all year round will make your garden look lovely and help the bird population too!
Give your cat a bell!
The bird population has been seriously depleted due to the domestic cat. There's not much you can do about your moggy's inclination to hunt them, but by adding a little bell to your cat's collar, you will give the birds a bit of a head start!
At Newnham Court, we have everything you need for attracting birds into your garden this spring in our village shops, including Notcutts garden centre and Cats Protection. You might even get some inspiration for an entire garden makeover! With free parking, a variety of shops, two cafes, and a great family-friendly pub/restaurant with garden, bring your family and make a bit of a day of it!