If you enjoy the birds in your garden, then there is no better time of year to be making the most of them than spring.
Although the numbers and variety are lower than the busy feeding period of winter, the onset of warmer weather makes up for it. With the flock of tits, finches, thrushes and other cold weather visitors now dispersed, the return of absent friends marks the transition to a new season as vividly as does the leaf cover and blossom on trees in the garden.
Don’t stop feeding the birds!
While the weather improves and the wildlife-friendly habitat in your garden begins to regenerate, don’t be fooled into thinking the hard times are over. Many of the birds that have been enjoying the tasty morsels you’ve provided have come to depend on the hand-outs over the long weeks of winter.
Stop your efforts now and you could well be doing more harm than good – late springs and unseasonably wet weather can spell very difficult conditions for birds. And at a time of year when young beaks have to be fed, a steady supply of food is critical.
You can do little wrong if you just keep supplying the same foods at the same rate in your garden – you will surely get takers, whatever the time of year. But the canny bird feeder now knows that not only are the species in the garden now slightly different, so is their diet.
Help your insect eating songbirds!
Many species, including those which have a more seed-based diet, take advantage of the greater number of insects in the spring and summer. This source of protein may be critical to the success of some species in raising their broods as spring progresses. Give them a better start in life and make sure you put out some insect based treats for your birds, such as Mealworms or Insect Suet Pellets.
In addition to the usual staple offerings of your feeding station, try something which is a proven success with such birds (such as Mealworms). If you have never tried live food before, you’ll soon see what a difference a supply of this natural, rich source of protein can make.
Some species which rely more on insects in their diet, such as Wrens and Robins, may not take readily to nut and seed feeders, but you may have more joy with Insect Treat Cakes, which include dried mealworms and insects in their nutritious mix.
Set aside a wild area in your garden
There’s no doubt that our favourite insect eating songbirds find their ideal situation in wild or natural areas where they can find an abundance of bugs, flies and wrigglers of all kinds, and they will stay near to an area like this.
Here are a few tips on making a small wild area in your garden:
1. Make a small stack of wood to create a habitat for bugs. This can be anything from a large stack of natural logs, to a small stack of twigs and branches depending on what you have available and how much space you have.
2. Gather a small pile of leaves in a corner, this will also provide a great habitat for insects & worms.
3. Plant some wildflowers – this may not be possible if your wild area is dark and shady, but for those slightly lighter, airier spaces it’s well worth planting native wildflowers. It’s best to grow wildflower seeds in pots and the plant them outside once they have established. This will benefit both seed and insect eating birds as well as looking beautiful in your garden!
Obviously, the bigger you can make your wild area, the more small songbirds will take up residence in it. But it doesn’t have to be big. A small patch behind the garden shed measuring a couple of metres in length will be enough to surprise you with the amount of new small birds you see in your garden!
Here’s what to feed your birds this month
Ultiva® Fledgling Mix
Give your fledglings the best start in life with this exclusive mix! It’s been specifically formulated to benefit fledgling birds, helping them to gain weight quickly and keep them in top condition. Bursting with high energy, protein rich and nutritious ingredients, it contains sunflower grits, peanut granules, pinhead oatmeal, millet, dried mealworms and oystershell grit. Ideal as a ground, table or feeder mix.
Insect Treat Cake
Bursting with dried insects and mealworms and blended with ground peanuts and cracked corn. This highly nutritious cake is the definitive fast food for birds on the go.
Ultiva® Spring & Summer Mix
Ultiva® Spring & Summer Mix contains a blend of red dari, red millet and sunflower seed hearts, the ultimate high-energy food. We particularly recommend it for use between March and July but it can be used all year round.
Hungry migrants arrive in force
As soon as the weather warms in April, summer migrants gradually return and start to pair up.
These include species such as Swallows, Swifts, House Martins, Northern Wheatears and Willow Warblers.
By May they will be starting to nest so you can look out for the familiar signs of this activity that they leave behind, if you’re lucky you may even end up hosting a family of House Martins in the roof over-hang!
The warmer, drier weather is good news for insects and insect-eating birds and it seems likely that, assuming the weather is fair and early summer is not dampened down by unseasonal showers, some species may attempt early second broods, and perhaps go on to raise a third.
The other side of the coin for successful breeders is that there are more mouths to feed. This applies to all species, resident and migrant alike, so weather you are home to Robinsand Song Thrushes or Blackcaps and Spotted Flycatchers, a good supply of food in your garden is always essential.
Bear in mind that prolonged warm temperatures also mean that lawns and flower beds dry out quickly, making it harder for Thrushes and Dunnocks to look for worms and invertebrates. You can help avoid problems like this by feeding live foods such as Mealworms.
You should always have fresh water available in a bird bath or pond for drinking and bathing – always a big hit with the birds in warm weather!