David's Springtime Garden


The Urban Birder

I love spring! It is the reawakening; the season in which nature begins to turn up the temperature dial and leaving on the light switch (the sun) just a tad longer every day. It’s the signal for flowers to bloom, trees to blossom and for the birds to start joyously singing and thinking about reproducing. Spring is also the time when new visitors begin to appear.

Urban Birder

After spending the winter in Sub Saharan Africa species like House Martins, Blackcaps and Spotted Flycatchers swarm, in varying numbers, back into the country to breed. They, along with all the other resident breeding birds entering our urban spaces, are an annual delight for us urban birders. Nothing lifts the spirit more than waking up on a weekend to beautiful sunlight and the sound of birdsong pouring through your window – especially if just the previous week the country was still held in winter’s icy grip.

If you are lucky enough to have a garden the key to attracting birds during springtime and, indeed, throughout the year, is the combination of bird feeders and wildlife friendly vegetation. Excessive sterile decking, boring lifeless astro-turf lawns and ugly wooden fencing just will not do. Try to create areas in your garden that are wildlife friendly and refrain from repairing holes in brickwork, wherever possible. These spaces make ideal nesting sites for birds as well as homes for other animals.

There has been a lot said about what particular plants to have in your garden for attracting wildlife. Planting ‘native’ insect attracting flora is usually a good rule to follow when it comes to your garden attractiveness for nature. That said, some of the best wildlife garden plants are actually not native to Britain at all. Perhaps the best known is that urban favourite, Buddleja or ‘butterfly bush’. It is incredible to see the number of butterflies and other insects that this plant can sometimes attract. I have stopped in my tracks on many occasions while strolling down city streets just to marvel at the collection of butterflies adorning some random person’s front garden. The fact that it is a night-scented plant means that is also great for moths too.

  • Buddlejia
  • Delta
  • mealworms

Spring is also the time of year that bird feeding requirements change and those species who prefer insects and worms start to switch as these become more available, from seeds of the autumn and winter. However, do not stop because our weather conditions fluctuate, and, as the late great Prince once sang; sometimes it snows in April. Late winter into early spring often presents the greatest danger to our birds as they are the times when demand outweighs supply of their natural foods. As well as the extra mouths to feed from our summer visiting birds, it is the time when females need all the nourishment possible in order to go about forming eggs and raising young. The provision of live foods at this time of the year, in the shape of mealworms, will prove invaluable in providing youngsters with the key proteins that they will need to get off to a good start in life. You could even dig up earthworms to add to the bird table menu. Provide kibbled peanuts if you don’t have a mesh peanut feeder to ensure parents don’t carry off huge chunks of peanuts to potentially choke their young with. They are usually wise enough to know not to do that and would rather seek the live food that you supply or natural foods to feed their young, that but an independent juvenile may not be so fortunate. Springtime feeding will generally increase the number of successful breeding birds in your area.

Licony bird bath

As ever, don’t forget to supply water. It is as important as food. It is the liquid of life. I am often dismayed at the lack of emphasis I see in the media and online when it comes to this crucial element in the care of our urban birds. There are plenty of choice when it comes to bird baths from the ornate Licony Bird Bath to the Hanging Water Bowl for those from whom space is at a premium. Either way, view having a bird bath in your space as an essential item. Your birds will love you for it!

David Lindo

February 2021

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