Tag Archives: birds

Garden Birds in Winter

At the moment this little chappie and thousands like him are facing
  • blizzards
  • gales
  • sub zero temperatures

Blue Tit in Summer

Lets hope he survives this harsh winter and can sing and enjoy the sun in 2010

We can help.

A Blue Tit spends 85% of a winter’s day looking for food.  So it spends a lot of energy trying to find food. 

If food is available on a bird table, a hanging feeder or on the ground the birds will have more energy to see them through the freezing night.  This applies to many birds not just Blue Tits.

Lack of food can made a bird less alert and so more likely to be caught by predators, or if it does not get enough fat to last through the night it may die

Sometimes winter weather looks beautiful, but it hides the harshness of winter

Nowhere to shelter

Nowhere to shelter


If you would like a place to meet and discuss birds in winter click this link which will take you to my  Bird Table News Forum which I’m able to take part in after a break




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Helping Birds in Winter

In winter bird’s natural supplies such as insects and seeds run out and many garden birds, especially the small birds do not survive the freezing winter.

This freezing winter weather can be a killer for garden birds

Putting food out for garden birds is a way to stop garden birds from dying.

Putting food out for garden birds will really help them survive and is a positive thing to do.

I know this weather makes it hard for us as well.  I myself hit a pothole and punctured two tyres one freezing evening.  At the moment  the snow is closing in near us, but if we can turn our thoughts to bird feeding we can all help our garden birds pull through the winter. 

There are many things outside our control that cause the decline of the bird population.  Feeding birds is something that is within our control.

There are may types of bird food on the market and if you would like any advice please let me know.

Putting out kitchen scraps and recycling old food is a good way to feed birds

Fruits such as apples, pears soaked dried fruit can be fed to birds.

Nuts are rich in fat.  Hazelnuts, almonds and walnuts can be fed to birds.  The most common nut we feed to birds is the peanut (unsalted peanuts)

Other kitchen scraps that can be used are cooked potatoes, rice, cake, cut up or grated cheese, ham fat.

Lard is good for birds in winter.  I often melt some lard.  When it is melted I pour it over bird food and mix it together.  This does not make a fatball – it just gives birds fat coated bird food.

Lets all join together and all put bird food out across Britain this winter.  It is really the worst weather in ages.

If you have any tips or would like advice please let  me know.

Birds feeding on a tatty old bird table – A Video




It’s an old tatty bird table, but what a lot of birds got some benefit from it! 

I don’t have this birdtable any more but it was a good birdtable as the tray was deep and so the bird food did not blow off.  It also gave shelter to birds when they were feeding.

Excuse the background noise – I am not sure what it is. 

How many different birds can you see. I saw 3, but if I watch it again I’m sure I’ll see more


Again I can’t see exactly when I recorded this video, but I’m enjoying myself going back over some of the videos I took.  Three cheers for RIVA Encoder!



The feathers of birds do get  worn, damaged and discoloured.  Birds need to be in pristine condition to see them through the long winter which, to birds, is just round the corner.

It takes –

  • A certain amount of time to grow new feathers
  • A certain amount of protein to grow new feathers

Which is why a lot of birds grow new feathers in one go.

Birds are moulting now.  It is amazing how they fit in with nature.

August is the best time for birds to moult because –

  • The weather is warm.
  • Birds need warm weather when they moult because fewer feathers means they cannot keep as warm – and also means they do not have much energy.
  • If they moulted earlier it may be colder for birds
  • If they moulted earlier   they would not have enough energy to  feed their young and  moult at the same time
  • Birds are vulnerable when they are moulting so they shelter during the day.  This is a good time of year for them to shelter – when the young have fledged and they only have themselves to feed.

So birds moult when the weather is warm and when breeding has ended.

So the gardens may seem quiet – but it will still help many birds if we put bird food out.

[ad#125x125square]As the scruffy moulting birds appear at the feeders we’ll know we’re giving them a helping hand and after they have eaten their fill at the bird tables they will hop into a hedge, shelter and rest – and prepare to be at their best and fittest to face the coming winter

So the seasons progress and birds (along with other wildlife) have learnt the only way to survive is to fit in with the seasons.

We are removed from the seasons in a lot of ways.  I wonder if we lose something by not being connected to nature.

It is really amazing how they know that August is a good time to moult and how the different seasons give them  different challenges in their  lives!

So don’t forget to put bird food out – it will help.



At this time of year birds have finished breeding. They often move into another area where they will spend the winter.

Birds like Blackbirds, Robins, and Song Thrushes are partial migrants, and breeding birds will probably move a small distance to the south, before being replaced by birds from northern Europe and Scandinavia. We can have Blackbirds in our gardens all the time, but they could be different blackbirds in winter and summer.

Birds like Chaffinches and Yellowhammers generally form feeding flocks on farmland in winter, and are not seen so often in gardens,

At this time of year there is a lot of food in the countryside and some birds don’t need to come to garden feeders – so even sedentary species such as Blue Tits will go to different habitats at this time of year. They only have themselves to feed as the young fledglings have grown.

[ad#125x125square]However, once the weather starts getting colder, and natural food supplies get less, birds such as tits and finches will move back and start to take food from garden bird feeders.

So it may be that the loss of birds in the garden could be that birds are simply changing their habits at the end of the breeding season


The above is a reply to a question a reader wrote asking about the loss of birds feeding in her garden. Click the link below to read the question


Water for Birds

Birds can’t take drinking water for granted.  We just turn on a tap.  Birds are at the mercy of nature.  

Droughts in summer.  Frozen water in winter. 

Either way birds often cannot find fresh  water.  

 Making sure there is a supply of fresh water available for all the birds to drink  will help a lot of birds – and will attract birds to your garden.

A lot of birds need to drink fresh water at least a couple of times a day.

It is so easy to put fresh water out in any small container.  If you have a minute to spare put a small container of water out in the garden for our feathered friends.


If the container has a smooth base put some stones in the bottom.  This gives birds something to perch and grip on as they are drinking


Birds need water for

  • Drinking
  • Bathing

In summer providing water is important. 

Providing water all year round is important

 Birds bathe all year round.

I think it’s seems strange that in winter especially  it’s vital for birds to bathe. 

Bathing keeps birds feathers in good condition. 

In winter this becomes vital because feathers in good condition  keep birds warm through the freezing cold nights.

Strange but true.  In winter, it’s good for birds to hop into freezing cold water to bathe, This helps them keep warm in freezing dark nights. 

So if you start putting water out don’t stop!  Keep fresh water in your garden all the time.



  A few years ago we built a garden pond.  Because

  • we thought it would look nice and 
  •  we would have less grass to cut.

The main reason this pond is a delight to look at is  because of the variety of birds that visit the pond daily to enjoy the fresh water.

It is fascinating to watch them  drink and bathe at the edge of the pond

By more good luck than management we made one side of the pond a gradual slope. The other sides are sloping, but more steeply.  The gradual slope makes it easy for the birds to stay in the shallow edge of the water. 

When we built the pond we also built  a ledge in


It’s a lovely sunny day here and the garden pond is a hive of activity. 

I can see the flurry of bird wings and the ripple of water as birds bathe at the edge of this pond.

We get birds as small as sparrows to as large as Rooks at the pond.

 The other day we had a young hare sitting at the edge of the pond.   It was sat there for ages  nibbling the fresh green shoots at the steep side of the pond. At one time it was so near the edge of the water we thought it would tumble in and we would have one bedraggled young hare. Can young hares swim?  In the end it must have decided it had eaten enough and sloped away into the hedge.  I have never been able to watch a young hare at such close quarters before.   We usually only catch a glimpse of them in the fields.


We often hear about how important putting bird food out is for out native birds.

Putting water out is just as important and very easy to do.


Birds using herbal remedies to survive

Herbs and Birds

We all know how beneficial herbs are to humans, but it is possible that birds use herbs to protect their nests and their young? 

Three years ago in New Orleans –  Ohio Wesleyan University  did a survey that suggested birds selected nesting material with antimicrobial properties.

  “If the fresh herbs and plant materials, that parent birds bring to their nests, have a sufficient concentration of these chemicals, they could protect the nestlings from harmful bacteria and infection.

“By practicing medical botany, parent birds exercise effective home nest security and protect their offspring from select biodegrading microbes that affect the health of their young

“Results of tests showed that several types of plant materials ….. inhibited the growth of a number of harmful bacteria. “


Taken from material provided by American Society for Microbiology.
  • Could our British birds, such as sparrows,   have an inherited knowledge of medical botany? 
  • Could sparrows know what  herbs and plants to use to keep their nests clear of harmful microbes and bacteria that could kill their young?
  • Do all birds have  this inherited knowledge of what plants and herbs to use to keep their nests clear of bacteria?

How amazing if this is so!  It gives all birds a knowledge and a kind of wisdom that I never thought they could possess. 

Could it be that my garden birds know more than me about the useful properties of herbs?!

It could explain, in part, why some birds have bad breeding seasons.   It could be possible that (at nest building time) there is a lack of the herb or plant that would keep the nest free of bacteria.  This would mean that bacteria could breed freely and could perhaps kill the newly hatched chick.

Nature is amazing.   Birds are amazing.


Kate Vincent has done a really detailed study about the decline in sparrow numbers.  Could the fact that sparrows cannot keep their nests free from bacteria be one reason they are declining?





A thought for the day:  Another survey done in Australia seems to show that crocodiles and birds have something in common.  A  pigeon and a crocodile have been shown to both use the sun, stars and the earth’s magnetic field to get home!  Maybe some of our knowledge is inherent in every living thing

 Have a good day

Volunteers Week – 1 to 7 June 2009

 Another day has dawned and bird feeding has been underway all day.   My spirits are high after a few annoying days.  Turning my thoughts away from computers and technical problems I’ve found out that in June it’s Volunteers Week.

I know from first hand knowledge how important volunteers are in helping British Birds..

The birds that visits gardens for food are the lucky ones.  These birds have learnt to live next door to us humans and by putting bird food out we are definitely helping to keeps wild birds alive.  So volunteers week can turn into a volunteering lifetime if you start to put bird food out every day from now on.

There are other species of birds which need different areas of land, often land that needs looking after to keep the bird and wildlife habitat safe.  This habitat sometimes needs management and volunteers are often needed to help.  There are also other way to help other than going to the sites themselves

The RSPB manages reserves to provide places where birds can feed and breed without being disturbed and this in turn gives people a chance to watch birds and other wildlife in their natural surroundings.

You may have a hobby  such as watching football or playing darts but this doesn’t mean there isn’t time for volunteering as well.  Volunteering can be outdoor help or indoor help.

Here are some of the things I have helped out at

  • Scoring at Pub Quiz Nights in aid of Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, 
  • I’ve stood in town centres in all weathers when there has been a weekend collection for Yorkshire Wildlife Trust
  • I’ve been stood in a beck in my wellingtons watching avidely to see which plastic duck came floating over the winning line
  • I have sold tickets for the above Plastic Duck race in aid of Yorkshire Wildlife Trust.
  • I have sold raffle tickets.

Those things don’t need any wildlife knowledge or expertise.  

When I went on a FEED THE BIRDS Weekend Walk the  Volunteer who took us round  the RSPB site at Bempton Cliffs, Flamborough did have a lot of  knowledge and expertise.  He was friendly and made the walk interesting and knew every nook and cranny of the RSPB site.  This is one of the reasons I know that this type of volunteering is important

He was enthusiastic and knew the answer to every question we asked. 

We watched garden birds and seabirds fly together in the sky around us.  We peered over the cliff edge and saw sea birds perched on the cliff face.

The volunteer certainly made our day.

There are so many kinds of volunteering you can do but helping British Birds and other wildlife is an interesting way to volunteer.

Think about it and take time to find out about Volunteers Week and how to help British Birds

A really good thing to do would be to volunteer to put food out for our British birds  every day from now on.  Go on!  Give it a try.  Let me know if you do.

 Volunteers Week is about rewarding and recruiting volunteers.

Do you know a volunteer who deserves and Award? 


Nursery Rhymes, Poems and Prayers about birds

I thought it would be a good idea to put some nursery rhymes and also poems and prayers  about birds together.   Here they are some nursery rhymes

Little Robin Redbreast
Came to visit me
This is what he whistled,
Thank you for my tea.

Pit, pat, well-a-day,
Little Robin flew away.
Where can little Robin be:
Gone into the cherry tree.


A wise old owl sat in an oak,
The more he heard the less he spoke
The less he spoke the more he heard
Why aren’t we like that wise old bird


The North Wind doth blow
And we shall have snow,
And what will the poor Robin do then?
Poor thing.
He’ll sit in a barn,
And keep himself warm,
And hide his head under his wing,
Poor thing.


There were two birds sat on a stone, Fa, la, la, la, lal, de:
One flew away and then there was one,
Fa, la, la, la, lal, de;
The other flew after, and then there was none,
Fa, la, la, la, lal, de;
And so the poor stone was left all alone, Fa, la, la, la, lal, de.


I saw a ship a-sailing,
A-sailing on the sea,
And oh, but it was laden
With pretty things for thee!

There were comfits in the cabin,
And apples in the hold;
The sails were made of silk,
And the masts were all of gold.

The four-and-twenty sailors,
That stood between the decks,
Were four and twenty white mice
With chains about their necks.

The captain was a duck
With a packet on his back,
And when the ship began to move
The captain said, Quack, Quack!


Goosey, goosey gander,
Whither shall I wander?
Upstairs and downstairs
And in my lady’s chamber.
There I met an old man
Who would not say his prayers
I took him by the left leg
And threw him down the stairs.


Here is a comment from someone from abroad.  It’s a nice little nursery rhymn.-

Hi Trisha,
There’s a comic somg about a Jay Bird – we used to sing it in Guides with actions:

Way down south not very far off
A jay bird died of the whooping cough
He whooped so hard with the whooping cough
That he whooped his tail and his feathers right off!

It’s sung over and over a few times (sitting on all fours) getting faster and faster and everytime whooping is sung you throw your arms in the air!

very impressed with your site!


I’d love to hear of any more nursery rhymns or poems about birds.