We have all had a tremendously difficult 18 months with the pandemic playing a central role in dragging us down. In hindsight, during the summer of 2020 many people found themselves connecting with urban nature – often for the first time. With that connection came questions. Lots of them. Can I still feed the birds during the summer? What do I do when I find a baby bird alone? It’s late summer, where have all my Blackbirds gone? Of course, these are the perennial questions that reoccur year after year. I never get bored of these questions. Indeed, I love it when these questions are asked because it shows that people are engaged and care enough to ask them in the first place.
It’s summer and most of us turning our attention to hitting the beach or hanging out in beer gardens with friends now that the restrictions are finally lifting. But life goes on in our gardens and urban blue and green spaces. Many of our garden birds are at least on their second brood of youngsters whilst visitors like Blackcaps, House Martins and Swifts are raising their young mindful that by early August they will have to be readying themselves for their long return journeys back to Sub Saharan Africa. Summer and autumn are seasons of aplenty. It is the optimum time for birds to enjoy the abundant natural foods available to them.
Most of your smaller garden birds, even the seedeaters like House Sparrows and Goldfinches, have switched the menu slightly to nourish their offspring with protein-rich insects that are so essential to help the youngsters survive the oncoming winter. My message is to keep feeding your birds during the summer but in much smaller quantities. Watching my feeders during the summer, I have found that the bird traffic drops dramatically. However, the adult birds may still occasionally come and visit the feeding station to scoff the nuts and seeds. It is almost as though they are taking a break from the arduous task of feeding ever-hungry babies to indulge in some fast food. Putting out mealworms will encourage these busy parents to bring their families to your garden to take advantage of this free source of food. Regardless, always keep a fresh supply of water in your garden. The Garden Birds Water Dish is a great option. Water is crucial especially during really hot days helping your urban birds to stay cool and hydrated.
Sometimes, you may come across a fledgling on its own looking pretty sorry for itself. Fight the urge to take it home to nurse it to adulthood. The chances are that its parents are nearby, out of sight or, as cruel as this may sound, it has been cast out of the family unit because it is not fit enough to survive. Most young birds have to die before they become adults in order for the ones with the best genes to survive and perpetuate the species. I know that this will be a tough call for many people. The best way to help the birds that are breeding around you is to create an environment that is rich in food, water and places to nest and rest. If you don’t have a garden then try to at least offer water and afix a feeder like the Crete Window Feeder onto one of your windows.
As I mentioned earlier, when we get into August a lot of birds have finished breeding and are getting prepared to migrate. It is during this time that they moult their plumages that have become worn by the demands of raising a family. It is also a very dangerous time because whilst moulting they become more susceptible to predation. So, they keep their heads down and stay undercover in the foliage of bushes and trees making it seem to us that they have disappeared. Species like the Blackbird that are resident also lay low to moult explaining why they are not so readily seen during late summer. As autumn begins to melt into winter that is the time that you should start to up the ante with the menu selection and quantity of food at your feeding station. You will soon find that the Blackbirds and other urban birds in the neighbourhood have suddenly materialised to take advantage of your life giving food and water.
How have your urban birds fared this summer? Get in contact as I would love to know!
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