On the Edge of Town

An Article by Mike Stentiford, MBE

 

HAVING the highly useful gift of mobility, it stands to reason that should a bird show displeasure with a particular environment, then it’s pretty simple for it to up-sticks and move on to pastures new and greener.

 

It’s certainly something that applies to the majority of familiar species we tend to see on a regular basis, either in town or, more especially, in our gardens. What’s often surprising is the variety of birds that somehow show loyalty to built-up areas where the only opportunity of finding natural safety and sustenance are in the trees in the park, among the scattered weeds on waste ground, or on the lawns and borders of small gardens.

All the more reason, therefore, for us to offer a helping hand whenever possible.

Nowhere is this more applicable than in suburbia where row upon row of small, tightly packed gardens each play a crucially important role as mini nature reserves.

Admittedly, the feathery visitors are more likely to be the general hoi-polloi of the bird world rather than the free spirits of mountain, moor and farmland, but hey, I bet they’re still likely to be a welcome guest at the garden feeders!

Helping these urban species when they most need it – November through to March – can be far more mutually beneficial if we find out what kind of food it is that satisfies them most. Being ever the opportunist, species such as starlings and house sparrows have a truly adventurous spirit when it comes to mealtimes. As such, mixtures of grain and millet allied to almost any kind of leftover food scraps generally gets the ‘wings-up’ from both of these tough little townies.

Great tits and blue tits seem a mite more conservative in their choice of daily rations although black sunflower seeds and especially peanuts appear to be writ large on their daily satisfaction charts.

Grain and mixed seeds also come high on the menu for the greenfinch and chaffinch along with that often frequent garden visitor, the collared dove.

Should the coming winter choose to be severely unkind, then almost any species of bird will select the comparative warmth and safety of an urban environment. When they arrive, being prepared with a good variety of mixed seeds, peanuts and even damaged fruit, will undoubtedly give your feathered visitors a much better fighting chance.

Be ready to enjoy their company!

 


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