Sunday, 23 August 2015

Hangry* birds – don’t forget to fill up those feeders

Maghull Starling - Emma Hartley

*Adjective - (Humorous) irritable as a result of feeling hungry - Collins English Dictionary

An RSPB member was served up a treat of her own after snapping a flock of hungry juvenile starlings on her bird table demanding more food after being treated to a mid-morning snack. 

Emma Hartley, who managed to rustle up some extra treats for her adoring crowd in her garden in Maghull, Merseyside, said: “I’d only just got back to the kitchen after topping up the bird table and feeders when the flock of juvenile starlings swooped down to tuck into their mid-morning treat. The food couldn’t have lasted more than a couple of minutes before they’d finished and were squabbling amongst themselves demanding more!

“Luckily I quickly managed to find a bit of dried fruit and some leftover cheese, which needless to say went down a treat.”

Despite remaining the second most spotted bird in the 2015 RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch, sightings of starlings in  gardens has declined by 80 per cent since 1979 and are UK ‘red listed’; meaning that they are of highest conservation concern.

Ben Andrew, RSPB Wildlife Advisor, said: “Starlings are very bold and boisterous birds, one that most people will have spotted in their gardens or in an outdoor space. It may therefore come as a surprise to know that starlings have declined quite significantly over the past 30 years.

Hangry Starling

“Leaving out a suitable supply of food and water will not only help starlings and their young prepare for the cold months, but will also help many of our other favourite garden birds.”

Despite it being mid-August, birds in and around our gardens, including favourite like robins and blackbirds, are still incubating eggs, feeding chicks in the nest or have vulnerable just-fledged chicks that can’t yet fly properly. With some birds nesting up until the end of August, it’s important that garden clearance is delayed until September at the earliest.

Birds will appreciate a variety of food all year round, but fatty food will be especially helpful. For example, fat balls, or homemade bird cakes made with lard and packed with seeds, fruit or dried mealworms are great treats to put out in your garden. Kitchen scraps will work well, and a good recipe for feeding birds might include chopped fat from unsalted meat, cheese, dried fruit, and pastry.  

The RSPB’s Giving Nature a Home campaign is aimed at tackling the housing crisis facing the UK’s threatened wildlife. The charity is asking people to provide a place for wildlife in their own gardens and outside spaces – whether it’s putting up a nest box for birds, creating a pond to support a number of different species or building a home for a hedgehog.

To find out how you can give nature a home where you live visit:

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