Spring in the Garden

Spring in the Garden

Monday, 9 February 2009

Remember to feed your friends, the birds.

Birds are a gardener's friend. Just watching them can be a great source of entertainment and pleasure, but many of them eat the pests in the garden, so it is a good idea to feed them at this time of year when they need a lot of food to keep warm and that food can be scarce.

We have a particularly aggressive blackbird at the moment who chases away all competitors for food, his own size or smaller. However, it isn't just the male who is being so possessive, a female blackbird, presumably his mate, is also chasing other female blackbirds away. The territorial turtle dove of two weeks ago seems to have calmed down now as I spotted two pairs feeding in our garden at the same time this morning. I managed to get photos of a turtle dove in the snow with a wood pigeon in the tree behind and also a blackbird feeding on our bird table. Click to enlarge the photos.

I have sometimes seen a thrush in our garden recently, but he seems to be a rare visitor, which is a shame as thrushes are partial to a juicy snail, smashing the shell on a stone in order to get to the soft part.

We've also had chaffinches and greenfinches visit our garden, especially during this recent cold patch. Wrens can also sometimes be seen daintily inspecting the undergrowth for anything edible.

With the cold weather we have had blue tits, great tits and long-tailed tits coming to eat the food we've put out, but except when the magnolia tree was covered with snow, they clearly also enjoy greenfly and other such delights as they can find on it. Pictured are a great tit and a pair of long-tailed tits feeding on fat balls.

The robin is a regular in our garden, which is a good thing because he will eat slugs and all manner of grubs whenever he gets the chance. (Look for a hint of red in this picture.)
We will have to watch out for the pigeons, though as they can be quite a nuisance in the veg patch.

One bird that doesn't visit often, probably because we have no pond stocked with fish for it to eat, is the heron, who rested on the top of some trees at the top of the garden earlier last week.

If you have some birds in your garden you would like to identify the RSPB have a 'bird identifier' to help you out. They even have the bird calls to listen to, which has made me realise that the commotion I sometimes hear in the woods at night must be the Tawny, or aptly named 'Screech', Owl.

Birds are Nature's own pesticides, but it's not just feeding them in Winter that keeps them healthy and abundant. If you want the birds to help you keep the harmful bugs and grubs down in your garden you need to make your garden wildlife-friendly and, most important, cut out the chemicals that are poisoning the birds and the things they feed on. There are environmentally-friendly, organic alternatives available.



  1. Hi Karin,
    I've been watching Geoff Hamilton's old garden programmes recently. He talks alot about making the garden friendly for birds, insects and amphibians to keep pests down. Do you have a pond?

  2. I got a boxed set of Geoff Hamilton's TV series on DVD recently. I loved them when they first came out and I still find them full of useful ideas.

    We don't have a pond, but we are thinking about it. I still found a frog in a compost heap I wanted to move, though - so I put it all back, including the frog. I think our neighbour has a pond. We often find frogs in our garden.


I look forward to reading your comments, it's always good to hear encouraging words or relevant hints and tips.