Monthly Archives: March 2009

Sparrow evicting a martin

Autumn 1912 – The bossy sparrow.

Another curious incident was related by another man, a very old wild-fowler of the place.  He said that when he was a young man living in his home a number of martins bred every year on his cottage.

They thought a great deal of their martins and were proud to have them there, and every spring he used to put up a board over the door to prevent the entrance from being messed up by the birds.  One spring a pair of  martins made their nest just above the door and had no sooner completed it than a pair of sparrows stepped in and took possession and at once began to lay eggs.

The martins made no fight at all, but did not go away;  they started making a fresh nest as close up as they could against the old one.

The entrance to the new nest was made to look the same way as the first, so that the back part was built up against the front of the other.  It was quickly made and when completed quickly blocked up the entrance of the old nest.

The sparrows had disappeared; he wondered why after taking the nest that did not belong to them they had allowed themselves to be pushed out in this way.

At the end of the season, after the departure of the martins, he got up to remove the board, and the double nest looked so curious he thought he would take this down too and examine it.

On breaking the closed nest open he was astonished to find the hen sparrow in it, a feathered skeleton still sitting on four eggs.

-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-

 

This is an extract from ‘Adventures Among Birds’ by W H Hudson

White tailed blackbird in America in March

Another white tailed blackbird in the US!
I read that white feathers can mean that birds are lacking in some vitamin.  I wonder if this is so
Stop Press. I received a news flash from Heather –
Heather said,

I’ve noticed a medium sized black colored bird with a single white tail feather in my back garden. The tail feather seems to be completely white both from the top and the bottom. It has been around a few times this spring, I also noticed it last spring but never see it in the summer, fall or winter. Any idea what it is?

Heather, does it have a yellow beak?  Blackbirds in England have yellow beaks

Can anyone help. 

Bird Food from a Plant

My small garden bush is leafless now, but it still gives birds shelter from the wind and rain .  I also use it for sheltering the bird food from the wind and rain as well

Every year the bush gives fruit for me and the birds.

Here is a photo taken last July.  This July it will fruit again as it does every year.

Fresh blackcurrants every year

 The bush is leafless now but I know it will spring into life again and in a few months will be full of berries.

Every year this old bush spring back into life

Every year this old bush spring back into life

 When it’s cold and windy it’s  nice to look at photos of a fresh summers day isn’t it.

Think about planting flowers, shrubs or plants that will attract birds.  Look at my Bird Friendly Plant list.   There are many more plants that attract birds – ask if you want to.

Plant information

If you are interested in finding out more about Bird Friendly Plants take a look below –

Hello Trisha,

Many thanks for your e-mail.
Yes, you are correct, the bushes/hedges of Elder, Blackthorn and Hawthorn are the same as trees. The main difference being that the trees are turned into hedges if the trees are clipped and pruned. If the plants are left to grow naturally, they will be classed as trees. If you need any further info, please get in touch, we are more than happy to help.
I received the above information from Trees2mydoor.  They have a lot of knowledge and are helpful.  Take a look –

Easty Peasy Fatball

Bird seed and fat make a really good home made fatball. Birds love it.  I love this recipe.  It only takes a jiff to to.

Here is the step by step recipe –

  • 1lb mixed bird seed
  • 500g (1/2 lb) lard.  IT MUST BE FAT.  IT CANNOT BE VEGETABLE OIL.  BIRDS NEED FAT FOR ENERGY.
  • Small containers lined with greaseproof paper or kitchen foil.
  • Melt the lard in a frying pan.  the lard does not need to get really hot.  Just needs to be warm liquid.
  • Mix the bird seed and lard together in a large tub.
  • Divide the mixture into the smaller tube
  • wait for the lard to go solid and the mixture to set
  • Put the mixture from one of the small tubs on a bird table and save the others for another day.
  • Sit back with a coffee and a biscuit and watch as they flock to eat the food.

It really is a great, easy bird cake receip.  It’s good because it bulks out the bird seed and gives our feathered friends much needed fat.

Farming

The National Farmers Union has been receiving an increased number of complaints about supermarkets demanding back payments and over-riders from farmers, and also supermarkets cutting the price they will pay.

There are plans to have an Ombudsman for the farming industry, but supermarkets are trying to block this.  Also some people say that an ombudsman would make the retail prices higher.

We’ll see what happens.

I do know supermarkets have such power, yet I remember a time before supermarkets.  I have seen them grow and become more powerful. 

Supermarkets are powerful, but in reality the farmers must be more powerful than all the supermarkets put together. Without farmers there would not be any supermarkets

Magic moments in my garden

I’ve just has two magic moments while I’ve been putting bird food out.

At the moment I’m usually annoyed as the rooks and crows sweep overhead, ready to come to the feast.

  • Magic moment number one was when I was really close to the hanging feeders and saw a robin getting food from the feeder. To me robins always seem frail, but I know they are one of the argumentative birds there are.I must remember to put some of this hanging feeder food on the ground.

I was putting cheese out on the ground feeding tray, inside the meshed feeder, a little scattered on the ground near and under the bush.

  • Magic moment number two.  A thrush came a few feet away from me and hungrily gobbled up  a lot of the grated cheese.It wasn’t frightened of me and I could see it’s colourings so clearly.  If I had taken one step I would have been standing next to it.

So in order for thrushes and blackbirds to get at the bird food and cheese all I have to do is stand in the garden for hours.  This will frighten off the rooks and crows, but the blackbirds, robins, thrushes and the like will be able to feed in peace.  Problem solved”!!!???

But, seriously, seeing the garden birds get the food  makes up for all the times pigeons, rooks and crows pinch the food.

Kitchen scraps for birds

This year I have put out grated cheese, raw carrot, bread,  bacon rind and old cake for my garden birds

I’ve just found out that dry cheese for birds is –

  • Protein rich food for birds
  • Can be a life saver for some birds in bad weather
  • At the moment it seems to be one of the favourite foods on my bird tables.

Have you any special scraps you put out for birds.

Shall we all recycle our scraps and feed the birds.

Mistle Thrush and Mistletoe

Birds and Plants.  Maybe you can’t have one without the other

A mistle thrush will feed on the flesh of the white mistletoe berries, which is very sticky 

Mistletoe for Mistle Thrushes

Mistletoe for Mistle Thrushes

  • After feeding on the mistletoe the mistle thrush tries to clean its beak on a branch
  • It does this to try to get rid of the stickyness of its beak.
  • When it does this the mistletoe sticks to the branch and grows into misltetoe.

Apple and Hawthorn are common trees and bushes were mistletoe grows.

So mistle thrushes play an important part in spreadinga mistletoe and misltetoe plays and important part in feeding misle thrushes.

 

Mistle Thrush in an English Garden

Mistle Thrush in an English Garden

Fun Activity for kids

Feeding birds is a fun activity for children.

It is also a good way to get children reading – by using easy to read bird identification books.  This must be a good thing.

Putting food out for a wild bird connects a child to nature.  Taking a child into the natural world by watching and feeding birds is fun and free.

Most children enjoy feeding wild birds.  They love to toss bread to the ducks when they visit a pomd.

We should take advantage of this to have fun and to teach at the same time.

  • See a bird,
  • maybe feed a bird,
  • try and find out the name of the bird,
  •  maybe look at a bird book.
  • Chat to children about where birds live.
  • Show children where birds live – hedge rows, nest boxes

Birds are all around us and the sample act of chatting to a child about a bird flutting by or a bird hopping on the grass could open up  a connection with nature that will last all their lives.

Computers and TV are great, but the great outdoors is great as well.

It needn’t be the countryside.  It can be a park, a walk on the way to school, pigeons in a railway station (there always seem to be pigeons in every railway station I have been to).

If each of us try and get one child interested in birds that would be great!

Birds eat many things from insects to berries to seeds.