May is the peak of the nesting season for many of our garden birds. It isn’t unusual to see our bird tables snubbed for wild food, which is the best for growing chicks, but the adults will make occasional visits to top up their own reserves. Be sure to take it easy on the mowing and trimming back at this time of year. Most birds feed their young insects, and wild parts of our gardens will provide the richest pickings.
Most of our returning migrants will now be back, depending on winds, and Swallows and House Martins will be prospecting old nest sites. Leaving up their mud cups from previous years means they will have more energy for egg-laying and gathering food instead of having to build, but don’t be surprised to find other birds have moved in. Wrens will often make nests in Swallow nests and House Sparrows are particularly keen on House Martin nests.
3. House Sparrow
More rural gardens might be lucky to have breeding Whitethroats and Lesser Whitethroats singing from garden hedges. They are keen on big patches of Bramble, so don’t be afraid to let it grow out if you want to enjoy these charming songsters. Whitethroats will sing proudly from the top of undergrowth, while Lesser Whitethroats prefers to skulk, making it difficult to spot them even in full song.
Our resident birds will normally begin nesting much earlier than the migrants and Blackbird and Robin chicks will be emerging from the nest. If you do see some fluffy chicks on the lawn please leave them alone. They won’t be abandoned even though they look it and the parent will be watching from nearby.
What to Feed
If you are new to feeding birds, you can choose a ‘year round’ bird food. This is suitable for all seasons and all popular garden birds. Peckish Complete Seed Mix has 12 varieties of high energy seeds and nuts and will attract a wide range of birds.
If you are keen to attract a specific type of bird, there are specific foods available. For example, a Robin Insect Mix blended with mealworms, naked oats and sunflowers hearts that are small and ideal for a Robin’s beak.
How to Feed
You will know how much food to put out based on how much is left. If the food is taking days to be eaten, simply reduce the amount you put out
Use several feeding stations to reduce the amount of birds feeding in one spot
If you use a feeding table, make sure to keep it clean
Use a ground feeding tray if you prefer to place food on the ground . Just remember to remove any leftover food before nightfall to prevent attracting unwanted visitors
Avoid putting feeders under garden features where birds may perch or roost
If you would like to learn more about understanding birds, in particular about changing bird populations visit the charity – British Trust for Ornithology (BTO)