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Garden Club - Summer Feeding the Birds

Next week summer begins, the garden has burst into life over spring and there have been lots of visitors to the garden. The bees have been all over my garden but now as the flowers of the rose-hips and the fruit have set - my garden is less interesting to the bees. So, we are growing flowers in pots near the back door to encourage the pollinators to stay. Here are the sweet peas that have just flowered.

I am working on attracting the song birds in to my garden. The turf war with the magpies and jackdaws has finally been won – by me! They no longer dominate the bird feeder station and we are visited by robins, blackbirds, starlings, blue tits and coal tits regularly. There is a family of 4 robins (mum, dad and two fledglings) that are always in our garden. They have grown so used to us that when I am weeding they as come as close as a school ruler (about 30 cms) from me looking for insects I have unearth.

However, I have not been so friendly towards the pigeons because the ripening strawberries, gooseberries and cherries are for us to eat and the very plump pigeons are clearly getting enough food from some were else – they don’t need my fruit as well!

Still, it’s easy to assume that all birds are well-equipped enough to take care of themselves at this time. Nevertheless, our garden birds can benefit from our help in every season, and summer is no exception. It is just their needs change with the seasons and we can look out for ways to help support them as we head in to summer.

The warm weather we are having at the moment is really pleasant, but is has been a dry month. Long dry spells or very hot temperatures can lead to food shortages for birds. Therefore, we should still be leaving food out to supplement their diet. A high protein seed mix will attract a variety of birds to your garden and form part of a balanced diet for them.

Although, nobody took up the invitation of the bird nest box that I put up in early spring, there are nests in our fir tree and in the gardens around us. At this time, some birds are still looking after chicks. The chicks will need to eat caterpillars and insects, so it’s important that food can be sourced elsewhere for the adult birds, in order to free up this precious resource. So, keeping the bird table and the feed stations full is important.

It’s also essential to be mindful of provide water for both drinking and bathing as water is essential to the health of their skin and feathers. In the warmer weather, water can quickly evaporate, so check your water sources morning and night to ensure they’re both clean and deep enough to bathe in.

In warm weather, it’s easier for unpleasant bacteria to spread. Therefore, cleaning the feeders thoroughly and regularly is very important - if not a fun job. It’s essential to practice good hygiene around both the feeders and water dishes as this will help to prevent the spread of aviary diseases.

I know many of you have been really helpful in the garden and have been earning pocket money doing jobs and that you have been helping to keep the place nice and tidy. Many of you have been mindful of the nests and have left areas a bit wild by not completely cutting back hedges and bushy foliage. Well done for looking first!

As we go in to another week, do take time to enjoy the birds in your garden as they visit your bird tables and feeding stations but be prepared for them to visit quickly and exit swiftly. Many will feel too nervous about hanging around on a feeder if you have a cat or a dog that barks as it races to towards them. Take your time to watch and see if you can get some great photograph. I am trying to get pictures of the fledgling blue tits and coal tits but so far only have blurred images, they are just too quick for my camera and my skills. So, you will have to make do with one I found on the internet this week, just to give you an idea what you are looking at. This is a coal tit.

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