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Looking after garden birds used to be something that we primarily thought of doing during the winter, as this is a time when food, shelter and water is harder to come by. However, it is equally, if not more important, to take extra care of your garden birds during the Spring and Summer. Essentially this is because birds breed in the spring and summer months, therefore by July and August there are millions more hungry mouths to feed.
It is lovely to have these birds visit your garden, but do you know how to care for them properly? If the answer is no, then here are a few ways you can help your garden birds and their chicks this Spring and Summer.
It is important to feed birds during the winter months due to the food shortage at this time. However, these shortages can occur at any time of year, so it is just as vital to keep feeding them through Spring and Summer. At this time they are not only looking for food for themselves but for their babies, which due to the dry ground, can be even harder. So help them out by providing them with the bird food, without the need for them to travel too far from the nest. Blended mixtures with sunflower hearts and suet pellets provide a highly calorific feed to boost sagging energy levels.
Tip: Avoid putting out fatty food in the summer as this can be harmful to young birds. Put peanuts in a rigid mesh, as whole nuts can choke young chicks. Fresh fruit is ideal to put out for birds, as is dried fruit such as raisins, sultanas and currants. But, make sure the fruit is soaked and softened for chicks in the summer. Grapes, sultanas and raisins are poisonous to dogs, so be aware of this when choosing where to place them for the birds if you have a pet pooch.
During the Spring and Summer months you can help birds by making sure they have a source of clean, fresh water to drink and bathe in. Remember to top them up with water daily!
Tip: Birds die every year from disease caught from dirty water bowls, so keep them clean! Also, place them away from bushes where predators could be hiding.
Placing birdhouses around your garden will allow a safe place for birds to look after their chicks.
Tip: Place them at least two to five meters above the ground, to keep birds safe from cats and other garden predators.
Look out on the ground for baby chicks that have fallen out of their nests. It is natural for baby birds to wander around the garden and interfering can do more harm than good. However, if they appear to be in danger, then place them back into the nest.
Tip: Check whether they are injured before you place them back in their nests, and only put them in if you are sure it is the one they have come from.
During Spring and Summer, when the hot weather allows you to get outside, you are bound to be doing more work on your garden. Just be aware of the birds while doing this. When hacking away at bushes look out for bird nests, so you don’t destroy your feathered friends’ homes. Likewise, when mowing the lawn check the ground before you start, for wandering baby birds (see above).
Tip: Think about the birds when you are planting additions in your garden. Native trees provide insects, seeds and shelter. Cornflowers, forget-me-nots and evening primrose and sunflowers provide fruit and seeds. Honeysuckle and clematis are ideal nesting sites.