Britain is a country of bird lovers. From the Golden Eagles of Scotland to the humble garden sparrows of suburbia they’re part of the nation’s cultural way of life. Here are the top ten ways that every person in the United Kingdom can help.
1. NESTING BOXES
You can never have enough nest boxes. Many birds use the natural holes found in old trees. Unfortunately, there are never enough, especially in areas that have been recently developed or in newly planted woods where the trees are too young. According to the RSPB there are more than 60 species of birds that are known to use nesting boxes including tree sparrows, kestrels, starlings, robins and house martins. Any nesting box is an advantage but it’s best to try and find out which type of nesting box is best suited to, and most needed in, your area.
2. SENSIBLE (SQUIRREL PROOF) BIRD FEEDERS AND BIRD TABLES
Bird feeders come in all shapes and sizes and are often designed for a specific species or size of bird. The enemy of the bird feeder is the grey squirrel which is nothing short of ingenious when it comes to raiding these feeding stations. A common manufacturer’s solution is the placement of a cage around the feeder with gaps that are large enough for birds to enter but too small for squirrels. Unfortunately, this limits the number of birds that can reach the food. One way is to place the feeder at the top of a squirrel proof pole that it far enough away from any bush or tree that could be used as a launching pad. Many bird enthusiasts argue that there is no perfect solution and that it’s still best to have a feeder even if some of the food is lost to squirrels.
3. USE A VARIETY OF BIRD FEED
Different types of seed and various blends may be best suited to the birds living near your feeder. Also, it’s not only seed that birds may need. Suet balls are an excellent source of nourishment for the right species. It’s also incredibly important to ensure that the feed that you’re buying or making is toxin free. Take special care with peanuts (groundnuts)
4. BIRDBATHS & CLEAN WATER
Birds need sources of water not just for drinking but for bathing and preening. This process helps to rid them of parasites and loose feathers as well as keeping them cool during the hotter summer months. Any water is better than no water but it’s best if its fresh and clean. Decorative features with running water can also help to reduce parasites and bacteria. With birdbaths it is always best to tip out any existing water and completely fill it with fresh. When cleaning a bird bath – which really should be done at least once a week – remember that it’s important to pay attention to hygiene and protect yourself too. Wear rubber gloves and avoid splashing yourself with used water or other birdbath debris. If you use a pressure spray it’s also best to use a respiratory facemask as the cleaning process will create many fine droplets of water. If hot weather is causing the water to evaporate quickly please try and refill the birdbath everyday as small amounts of water can concentrate elements that may be harmful to birds and other creatures. These are just a few of the tips about birdbaths and clean water. Much more information can be found on the internet and particularly at the RSPB website.
5. SUMMER WATER DISPENSERS
The summer months bring their own issues for birds but the availability of water is probably one of the most critical. Living in a country where rain is common it’s easy to forget how dry the summer months can become. This situation is made much worse whenever there is a summer drought that restricts the use of hose pipes and garden sprinklers.
6. LEARN ABOUT BIRDS / SHARE WHAT YOU LEARN
We see birds everyday and so it’s very easy to take them for granted but there are more than 550 species in Britain of which 52 are in urgent need of support and conservation. More than 100 species are now on the “requires action” list.
Which is the most endangered? Is there and active support programme in your area? By learning about birds and then just sharing a little od what you know with friends and relatives it will help educate and inform people about the importance of birds and their role in the ecosystem. Every little bit of information and action helps.
7. WATCH OUT FOR CATS
Cats catch birds – it’s a fact of life – but there is a lot that can be done to make it harder for them to do so. Avoid positioning bird tables near to cat camouflage, place feeders out of cat range and if you see a cat sneaking up on a bird then give our feathered friend a warning.
8. AVOID TOXINS / BIRD UNFRIENDLY PLANTS
Birds are pretty smart when it comes to knowing what to eat and what not to eat. However, when food might be scarce or the plant is a foreign import there is the chance that a bird may well eat berries or seeds that are toxic to them. Agave, castor beans and Oleander are just a few examples of bird-unfriendly plants.
9. DO NOT DISTURB
It may sound obvious but all forms of wildlife have their own patterns, behaviour and specialised habitats. For many of these creatures, including birds, human activity and interference can to cause animal stress and distraction. Wildlife experts are trained regarding the best ways to monitor without causing disruption. In particular, activities such climbing up to nests to take photographs can make the bird feel threatened – possibly enough to even abandon the nest completely. Unauthorised egg collecting is never acceptable.
10. VISIT THE RSPB WEBSITE / BECOME A MEMBER
The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds is an active, enthusiastic and informative organisation dedicated to the protection and preservation of Britain’s birds.
THE ROYAL SOCIETY FOR THE
PROTECTION OF BIRDS