Wild Bird Advice and information
Many people would help birds more, if they knew simple easy ways in which they could help wild birds, without going to too-much extra trouble. Often there are ways to help – that don’t actually ‘cost’ anything at all, but can make a huge difference to making birds welcome and safe in the environment around us.
One of the main causes of bird injuries (especially young birds in the summer months), is being attacked by both pet and feral cats. A simple way to combat this, is to cut up an orange into about six pieces, and scatter the pieces underneath bushes/areas where you don’t want the cats to go. This works in over 90% of cases as cats don’t like the smell.
Just as we cannot live without food and water – neither can the birds. In the Summer months, the birds are much better off eating their natural diets of insects, worms, beetles etc. All they really need from you is fresh clean water daily.
However, in the colder months we can do a great deal to make their lives easier. Again, fresh clean water is a must – especially if it is very cold, and you may need to change the water more frequently if it keeps freezing. NEVER put additives in water to stop it freezing, as this will kill the birds! You can put a small ball in the dish, and the act of it bobbing about, will help stop the surface freezing completely.
You can easily buy some hanging feeders and fill with wild bird seed or peanuts (MUST be unsalted); this will bring a large variety of birds to your garden/yard. You can also buy fat balls and hang these up too. Equally, you can also use old cooking fat, all your uncooked food scraps, along with some seeds/nuts, raisins/currants, and cheese and make your own using an old yoghurt pot and length of string. For a detailed guide see the RSPB website here; http://www.rspb.org.uk/youth/makeanddo/activities/birdcake.aspx
If you have a north or east-facing wall or tree, you might like to put up a bird box so that you can help the birds bring their young into the wild in safety. This is often a fascinating insight into exactly how hard parent birds have to work to rear their young, which can be enjoyed by young and old alike. The RSPB have a very good guide to building bird boxes which you can read/print off here; http://www.rspb.org.uk/advice/helpingbirds/nestboxes/smallbirds/index.aspx
Many of the calls to our Helpline are when people have found an injured bird in distress, and need to know where to take it. There are many websites on the internet giving advice, but please be aware that sometime there is a lot of mis-information out there; bad advice which could ultimately kill the bird you are trying to save. Click on the tab "Finding Local Rescue Centre" to locate your nearest wild bird hospital/sanctuary.
Our Advice Helpline continues to be a life-line to anyone finding a wild bird in distress.
In 2011 we gave out 20,565 minutes of advice in 5,046 calls. This was a total of 342 hrs 45 minutes with an average call length of 4 minutes 5 seconds. By 2012 this had increased to 25,305 minutes in 6,281 calls. In 2013 we advised over 22,757 minutes in 5506 calls. In 2014 the business handset finally gave up, and we had to switch to an android phone at the end of the summer, which sadly meant we no longer had the detailed data recording facility to number-crunch with. However we had made a further change at the same time which channelled much of our advice requests through the website and email whilst we got used to the new handset.