Friday, 24 April 2015

Feathered friends

Birds are very pretty, they sound nice and they help us gardeners control pests and weeds. Did you know that more than 140 different types have been spotted in our gardens during surveys like the Big Garden Birdwatch and that 30 different types are found very often?

Colourful birds like these could make a nest in your house

At this time of year the birds are very busy singing and making nests so it's a great time to help them out. I've got some wise words to help you do that and a fun craft project for you to make your own colourful birds.

Feed the birds

Just like me, lots of birds have favourite foods so the type of food you put out will make a difference to the type of birds that visit your garden.
The clever people at the Royal Horticultural Society have made up this list:

  • Insect cakes for tits 
  • Berry cakes for finches 
  • Finely chopped animal fat and grated cheese for small birds, such as wrens 
  • Sparrows, finches and nuthatches enjoy eating the seeds from sunflower heads. Also, leave seed heads on herbaceous plants overwinter 
  • Niger seed for goldfinches 
  • Peanut cakes for starlings 
  • Fruit for thrushes and blackbirds. Scatter over-ripe apples and raisins on the ground for them

I made this lovely, colourful feeder last year in this blog

Remember that the feed should not be in bigger chunks. If the mummy and daddy birds feed chunks to their babies it could cause them to choke.
The plants that you grow can also provide berries or seeds for birds. Native berry producing plants you might have in your garden include blackberry, elderberry and hawthorn. Bird friendly plants someone might have planted include crab apples, honeysuckles, and sunflowers. 

Waxwings might visit your berry producing plants

As I told you in my Big Garden Birdwatch blog, where you put the food will also affect the types of birds that you see. Finches, sparrows and tits like hanging bird feeders. These are best placed over paved or decked areas so you can sweep away and mess and prevent scavengers like rats taking advantage of the feed too. Bird tables are good for robins, sparrows and doves. Just don't put them too close to trees were predators could jump from whilst birds were feeding. Blackbirds thrushes, and wrens don't have the 3 second rule and are happy to eat their food from the ground.

Shelter the birds

To help the birds make homes in which to have their baby birds, you can hang up a nesting box.  It's best to do this on a wall rather than tree if you can as it makes it safer for the baby birds as cats and other animals can't get to it. A north or north-east direction is ideal as it is less likely to get too hot. 
Nesting boxes made from a mixture of wood and concrete (called woodcrete) are better than wood as it is cooler in summer and warmer in winter.

A family of birds might come and stay in your nesting box too.

Make your own bird

How about making your own colourful spring bird? (thanks to Happy Hooligans for the idea.)

You'll need:

  • paper plates
  • card for beak
  • googly eyes (or darker card for eyes)
  • white paper
  • crafting decorations such as feathers, crumpled tissue paper, shiny cellophane
  • paint
  • glue

I'm making a very colourful bird

We started by painting our paper plates with lots of paint.
Mummy cut out a diamond shape from the card to fold in 2 to make a beak.

Now my bird's body is ready to be decorated

When my paper plate was dry we folded in half.
I then glued my decorations over the bird to make pretty "feathers".

I need to glue on his beak so he can eat!

Then I glued some cellophane strips onto the plate to make a tail.
Finally I glued on the beak and stuck on the googly eyes. 

I think my 2 birds look fab, what do you think?

Hopefully you will see lots of colourful birds in your garden (and craft table) this Spring. You could even get involved in an event near you for International Dawn Chorus Day (May 3rd) 

Hugs & kisses,

Lulu xx

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