Photo above of a Goldfinch, these have been on the increase in the UK in recent years due to householders putting out a relatively new feed mix of nyjer seeds and sunflower hearts, which they would eat in the wild.
Colin Serjent reports on how feeding up our feathered friends has helped boost their numbers.
People increasingly putting out food in their back gardens has not only increased some bird populations but also the diversity of species that visit feeders, according to research by the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO). Once the primary domain of sparrows and starlings, bird feeders are now playing host to more goldfinches and wood pigeons.
BTO said that ‘Regular visits to garden feeders in urban areas has led to population growth across more than 30 different bird species. It is fascinating to discover how this seemingly small-scale hobby is in fact restructuring bird communities across large spatial spaces’.
They added that ‘By providing the right food and a safe place to make a nest, gardens provide an invaluable resource and are a key element in helping to save nature, perhaps even playing a pivotal role in reversing some declines’.
The BTO estimates that the British population spends almost £300 million a year on bird-feeding products – enough to potentially sustain up to 196 million birds.
What are the safe foods for birds?
There are different mixes for feeders and for bird tables and ground feeding. The better mixtures contain plenty of flaked maize, sunflower seeds and peanut granules. Pinhead oatmeal is excellent for many birds. Avoid seed mixtures that have split peas, beans, dried rice or lentils as only the large species can eat them dry.
While birds have been busy feeding on food in back gardens, people have also been active in these locations during the Covid-19 Lockdown.
Some of the activities people have been pursuing, in what is often a small space, are weightlifting, trampolining, stretching, yoga and dance routines, as well as just chilling out while sunbathing, and bird watching!
To soothe their minds people have taken a chair into the garden and sat and listened to birdsong or read a book.
Other people have attempted to improve the appearance of their garden by adding plants, water-based utilities, ornaments and even adding more bird feeders! It remains to be seen whether people spending more time in their gardens has led to greater appreciation of our feathered visitors with corresponding further increases in bird numbers.