Bird feeding notes in late April

As posted previously, I have taken an increasing interest in birds and feeding them in the garden. One of the many interesting and (in my view) edifying things about this is another link with the passing of seasons and the rhythm of the year. In spring the dynamic shifts from raw survival in winter to nesting and raising chicks. A few notes on this.

  1. Only a few weeks ago impaled apples, either cut or the remnants of those my children had partly eaten, were extremely popular in the garden, particular with blackcaps and starlings. Now however they go untouched. Some of this must be to do with the winter blackcap population returning to Europe, but also presumably reflects patterns in food demands. After all, there are at least as many starlings.
  2. There are still not many magpies in my garden, though naturally after posting a link to that post on another nature blog one immediately appeared outside my window. However at most I see a magpie singly (sorrow indeed) and at most once a week. My working hypothesis is that this is because of the proximity of a rookery.
  3. Again I have noticed that less is more when it comes to feeding. Little and often seems to work best in attracting a reasonably diversity of species. As pointed out on the magpie post before, I have nothing against corvids gathering en masse in my garden at all. However, they tend to rapidly work their way through bird feed which on economic grounds if nothing else is costly. Generally I try to give kitchen scraps of various kinds to rooks/jackdaws/hooded crows, which they tend to lap up. A scattering of bird seed in various places on the ground tends to attract a reasonable range of finches and sparrows.
  4. Observing small, “common” birds up close has brought me a wider appreciation of the variety within species. There are an awful lots of variable shadings and feather configurations among chaffinches, for instance. Some have very light, pale pink breasts, others have nearly robin red ones.
  5. The best bird seed mix by some distances is King Wild Bird Seed in terms of attracting a wide variety of birds over a period of time. I have tended to find that “gimmicky” bird feeding products tend to disappear very quickly.
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