Summer Feeding

There’s always something extra special about seeing wildlife take advantage of habitat you have created in the garden. Twenty years ago when we first moved into our edge of village garden it was very different, one of the first trees that we planted was Rowan or Mountain Ash. Rowan is a small native, tree suitable for most gardens; it produces wonderful orange-red berries in late summer that are like cat-nip to many birds. Starlings and Blackbirds will feast on them, picking berry after berry; in most years my Rowan has been stripped of berries by the first week in September. In the last few days my back door Rowan has been an early morning stop for a pair of Bullfinches, their soft calls alerting me to their presence as they delicately slice into the fleshy berries. If your Rowan berries last into winter there is always the chance they may attract visitors from further afield such as Waxwings too.


Through Spring and Summer this can be a good way of discovering that which species are nearby and might be encouraged into the garden – Blackbirds, Song Thrushes and Robins are notable singers at dusk.


While most birds will feed on natural food sources in late summer, it is always a good idea to keep feeding selected foods in your garden. High protein foods such as black sunflowers or sunflower hearts are particularly good as are specially designed mixes such as the Ultiva Fledgling Mix.


This summer has been anything but wet and miserable (for a change) but in periods where other food can be hard to find your bird table can provide a vital source of food for young birds and adults that are undergoing a post-breeding feather moult.


Don’t forget to help ground feeders too, warm, dry summers can make earthworms and other natural food super-hard to find for Blackbirds and Song Thrushes, a few soaked Mealworms or suet pellets can help. Putting out fruit such as apples and pears or ripe bananas will also attract birds but keep an eye out for butterflies and moths too, it’s possible to have several different species attracted to ripe fruit in the garden and some of the moths can be spectacular.


Our Garden Birder’s Diary is written by Northumberland-based birder Alan Tilmouth who has been birdwatching for over 30 years and writing about birds in various guises for the last decade. A keen garden birdwatcher, he also manages to unearth the odd rare bird on his travels. You can find Alan on Twitter and his Facebook blog.