Birding in March and April

By March we can usually safely say that spring has arrived (whatever the weather may be!). As a fellow birdwatcher you will know that your garden birds will have been preparing for breeding for some time now, building nests and chirping away in the trees and bushes.

Traditional wisdom had it that at this time of year, with the worst of the winter weather behind us, birds had to learn to fend for themselves and bird watchers should no longer provide a helping hand.

Thankfully, research has shown that this is not the best course of action – particularly so at this time when many once common birds are showing a decline in numbers, which is more than likely a result of human activity, such as building on natural land and the removal of hedgerows for modern farming methods.

No wonder we see more wildlife per square metre on grassy verges at the side of dual carriageways than anywhere else – it’s probably one of the last places that hasn’t been tampered with!

The least we can do is try to supplement the birds for their loss by feeding our feathered friends good quality, natural food. After all, it has now become overwhelmingly clear that feeding throughout the spring and summer months can make a real difference.

The more birds you help to successfully raise broods this spring and summer, the more birds you can enjoy in your garden for years to come. You’ll also know that you’re doing your bit to save the UK’s endangered species, so keep up the good work and remember – spring feeding will help breeding.

Here’s what to feed your birds this month:

Ultiva® Robin & Softbill Mix
A nutritious mix of soft grains, sunflower kernels, mealworms and raisins that will have Robins, Blackbirds and Thrushes alike returning to your garden for more.

Ultiva® Spring & Summer Mix
A high-energy, no-mess way to feed during spring and summer, our Ultiva® Spring and Summer Mix contains a nutritious blend. We particularly recommend this for use from March to July, but it can be used all year round.
Raisin and Nut Treat Cake 
This delicious cake will bring the birds flocking to your garden! The tasty, high fat suet, raisins, peanuts, almonds, millet and corn will give your garden birds a good boost into the breeding season.

 

Look out for birds building nests

Whatever species of bird you have in your garden, you will see them finding various nesting material around your garden. Tits will choose the softest nesting materials they can find – dog or cat hair, dried grass, fluffy seed heads (such as Old Man’s Beard) and even cobwebs!

Robins build their nests from equally soft materials and moss. Pigeons, on the other hand, will put a few twigs together for their young to nest in. However your garden visitors choose to build their nests, we recommend giving them a helping hand by leaving out somesuitable nesting materials in the garden.

Look out for your first fledglings!

Chances are you have already spotted fledgling birds in your garden – some species nest far earlier these days so it would not be unusual to see a fluffy young Blackbird or Thrush tentatively following its parent around the garden.

How to help your fledglings

To give them the best possible start in life it’s important to provide good quality, high-energy food that can be easily digested by small stomachs.

Our exclusive Ultiva® Fledgling Mix has been specially formulated to benefit fledgling birds, helping them to gain weight quickly and to maintain them in peak condition. Bursting with protein-rich nutritious ingredients it will give them all the energy they need to help them grow.

Live mealworms are an excellent source of protein and are one of the best foods you can give to birds. Regular mealworms are ideal for adult birds while the smaller mini mealworms will be wolfed down by fledglings.
For a real source of energy our suet pellets are the ultimate fast food for birds! A highly nutritious blend of premium quality ingredients with energy packed suet that will give an instant life saving boost to hungry birds.

Finally with the likelihood of lots of birds in your garden looking for food to feed their young, it’s a good idea to keep your feeders andtables clean as any area where large numbers of birds congregate presents an increased risk of infection from parasites.

Be aware of declining bird species

Over recent years the boom in redevelopment has lead to a huge shortage of natural space for the birds to live on – the once abundant House Sparrow, is a prime example. However, more recently ornithologists have monitored a steady decline in the number of Song Thrushes, Spotted Flycatchers, Willow Tits and Pied Wagtails.

It is very important to carry on feeding your birds good quality foods throughout the year, and spring is no exception. The best thing you can do to help at this time of year is to leave out as many different types of good quality, highly beneficial food as possible.

By helping the busy and exhausted parent birds this way, you’ll be boosting the population of the next generation of birds.

Not only are our native birds in steady decline, but summer visitors are returning in fewer numbers than they used to, meaning our summers are becoming altogether quieter. This is a great concern to any bird lover, so we need to group together to do something about it.

Here are the three main reasons why African migrants have been struggling recently:
1. In the UK there are fewer insects left to eat in the countryside and in people’s gardens.
2. Lots of these migrant birds are hunted on their way to Africa.
3. Climate change is having an impact on their ability to survive the winter.

How you can help

It’s time to put in a real effort to help insect-eating songbirds such as Nightingales,Cuckoos, Swallows and Spotted Flycatchers:

• Provide insect foods – It’s easy to think that all birds will eat berries, peanuts and sunflower seeds, but this isn’t the case. Insect eating birds need insect food, this can either be provided in special bird feeds, or by letting an area of your garden become wild. Wild areas containing logs, meadow flowers and grasses contain huge amount of insects, the perfect meal for your insect-eating songbirds!

Winter visitors head back home

Not only is it now the breeding season, but it’s about time to say goodbye to some of the birds that have made your garden their home over the winter.

Winter Thrushes, such as the Redwing and Fieldfare, will soon be taking off on their journey to distant breeding grounds as far away as the Arctic Circle. These Thrushes feed mainly on berry-bearing shrubs such as Cotoneaster, Pyracantha, Rowan and Hawthorn in winter, but prefer to move to Birch forests for breeding, and a small number of pairs will remain to nest in northern Scotland.

Summer visitors arrive in the UK

It was a lovely sight to see our winter visitors in our gardens, but as we say goodbye to them we can look forward to welcoming back those that left to spend the winter in warmer climates, such asSwallows, Starlings and House Martins, who usually return in April and May.

During March the first Chiffchaffs and Blackcaps will be singing in woodlands and gardens in the south, and in the first half of April Swallows and House Martins may also appear. But it’s not until late April that the bulk of summer visitors arrive, including most Warblers, Redstart and Cuckoo, with some – notably Spotted Flycatcher and Swift – rarely evident before May.

• Provide more nest boxes – all species need nesting space in which to raise their young. By providing suitable nesting spaces you’ll be helping to preserve such species.