Big Garden Birdwatch Top 10 - residents or winter visitors?

22nd October 2004 at 01:00
1 House sparrow - resident, likely to move only a few kilometres in its lifetime.

2 Starling - mixed populations of residents and visitors from the Baltic.

3 Blue tit - resident, but may have moved into your garden from a nearby wood.

4 Blackbird - about 75 per cent residents, 25 per cent visitors from Scandinavia.

5 Chaffinch - 50 per cent resident, 50 per cent visitors from Scandinavia.

6 Greenfinch - mainly resident, but a few from the Continent.

7 Collared dove - resident.

8 Great tit - resident.

9 Woodpigeon - resident 10 Robin - resident Other winter visitors to watch for at birdtables in cold weather:

* Redwing - small thrush with white eyestripe

* Fieldfare - large chestnut and grey thrush with chuckling call

* Siskin - streaky green finch with black cap FEEDING: THE GOLDEN RULES

Don'ts

There are very few rules for feeding birds. The three key don'ts are:

* Don't give salted food - birds can become very quickly dehydrated.

* Don't allow feeding areas to become dirty. Food left out can attract unwanted visitors such as rats, and dirty birdfeeders can harbour lethal diseases.

* Don't buy peanuts unless they are guaranteed free of aflatoxins, a fatal fungus.

If you fail on these three key rules, you may well do more harm than good.

An additional don't applies only during the breeding season (primarily April to July): don't provide whole peanuts except in a mesh feeder, to prevent the risk of adult birds feeding them to their chicks and choking them.

Dos

The do's are all things that can bring "added value" to your bird feeding station.

* Do provide water as well as food, especially during frosts.

* Do remember that the greater variety of food types you provide, the more species you are likely to attract.

* Do site your feeders carefully - not too exposed to allow aerial attack by predators, not too close to cover to facilitate ambush. Then sit back and watch for a truly international clientele to arrive.

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