Gardeners in the UK spend around £200 million a year on bird food, which helps some of Britain’s most beloved species get by in the harsh winter months and beyond
But research by Zoological Society of London (ZSL) and the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO), suggests that bird tables and feeders are spreading illness because they bring species together which would never normally come into contact
The risk of disease is also increased if bird tables and other feeding stations are not kept clean, so stale food, food waste and droppings accumulate, the report warned
Co-author Kate Risely from BTO said: “We’re calling on everyone who feeds wild birds to be aware of their responsibility for preventing disease.”Simple steps we’d recommend include offering a variety of food from accredited sources, feeding in moderation, so that feeders are typically emptied every 1-2 days, the regular cleaning of bird feeders and rotation of feeding sites to avoid accumulation of waste food or bird droppings.
Read the full story at the Telegraph online
SongBird Survival reiterate our advice found at:
Cleaning and maintaining feeders
Where to place feeders
Research findings for garden birds and feeding
via SongBird Survival | Blog | Bird tables and feeders in gardens could spread diseases, warn experts
Significant improvements are being made in the way England’s farmland is being managed to benefit the environment
However, a new survey by the Campaign for the Farmed Environment (CFE) shows that many farmers are unrewarded for improving and advancing “public goods”
The findings reveal how much work is currently undertaken without any payment from the current stewardship schemes.
The farmers surveyed help to protect water quality, soil health and farm wildlife. Some 90% of respondents had improved their soil management, 81% had increased their efficiency in using pesticide and fertilisers, and 73% had adopted nutrient management planning.
For every farmer receiving an agri-environment payment for sowing a pollen and nectar mix, another farmer is doing the same voluntarily.
About twice as many arable farmers are providing supplementary feeding for birds and about four times as many are sowing catch and cover crops at their own expense outside any scheme.
Read the full story on FarmingUK.com
Long-term monitoring research – watch our videos on this subject
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via SongBird Survival | Blog | Many farmers go unrewarded in delivering ‘public goods’
The amount of birds killed to supply restaurants with ingredients for a banned local dish has fallen dramatically after covert surveillance action
The number of songbirds being illegally killed on a UK military base in Cyprus to supply restaurants has fallen by 70% last year, wildlife experts said
More than 260,000 birds such as black caps and robins were trapped and killed last autumn at the British territory, the RSPB said.
But the figure is down 70% on the previous year’s estimate of 880,000 songbirds illegally killed to provide restaurants with the main ingredient for the local delicacy ambelopoulia – a plate of cooked songbirds.
Click here to read the full article
Martin Harper, RSPB conservation director, said: “The reduction in the numbers of birds being illegally killed is a direct result of on-the-ground work by RSPB and Sovereign Base Area staff.
“The enforcement and the severity of sentences is also adding to the risks that would-be trappers take.
“We now need to finish removing the remaining non-native acacia bushes to make sure that there are no longer places where trappers can hide their nets. This is the long-term solution needed for these migrant birds.”
He added the Sovereign Base Area authorities should be congratulated for taking measures including exclusion orders, vehicle impoundments and removing illegal irrigation pipes used to boost the growth of acacia trees.
Martin Hellicar, director of BirdLife Cyprus, said: “Now is the time to re-double efforts and make sure we see a permanent end to large-scale trapping and the massive impact it has on our migrant birds.
“Increased and consistent enforcement action must be taken against law-breaking restaurants.”
An Ministry of Defence spokesman said: “The Sovereign Base Area Administration is pleased that the enhanced efforts to counter bird trapping has finally resulted in a reduction in the number of bird deaths estimated by Birdlife.
“We are not complacent and recognise there is still much work to do. The MoD is, and will continue to be, actively committed to tackling illegal bird trapping inside the Sovereign Base Area.”
Click here to read the full article
via SongBird Survival | Blog | Fall in number of songbirds killed on UK Cypriot base and sold to restaurants
Today’s Country Diary describes the chaffinch in all his glory
“For a brief moment, a cock chaffinch owns the world: a handful of seeds on a metre-square of concrete at the cold end of February. Watch the fighter’s forward shuffle, pushing towards the ropes of his entitlement; the eye-contact with invisible opponents. In a scattering of wild bird food, harvested somewhere else, bagged for the supermarket and broadcast here to rekindle a bond between person and bird, he asserts his antique right to gleanings.
Chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs) perched on a fence with snow
He selects a seed the way a waller lifts the perfect stone to fill a gap. The precision instrument of his beak applies just enough pressure along the ridges to split its seam, then he rolls it crosswise to crack and separate the case, which he drops. This empty husk is the chaff, and the chaffinch’s skill is in the threshing of each grain, the winnowing that separates the germ of life from the box it comes in. Chaffinch do not eat the chaff but create it, a litter cast for others….”
Read the full article on the Guardian here
Find out more about Chaffinches here
via SongBird Survival | Blog | Chaffinch at the table
Great collaboration by the Poole community:
“FAMILIES came together in a Poole woodland to put together nesting boxes to mark National Nest Box Week.
Children and their parents built the 30 flat-pack nesting boxes at Blake Hill Viewpoint.
The children then decorated the boxes and helped select suitable locations for them.
They will be able to observe them throughout breeding season and watch the birds as they move in, build their nests and raise their young.
The activity formed part of a community day arranged by council officers and ward councillors to launch the refurbishments, improve signposting and clear dense foliage to improve biodiversity and more wildlife friendly habitats.”
Read the full story on the Bournemouth Echo here
via SongBird Survival | Blog | Nests for Poole
Fascinating new Ted-ed video
Learn how birds learn how to sing
A brown thrasher knows a thousand songs. A wood thrush can sing two pitches at once. A mockingbird can match the sounds around it — including car alarms. These are just a few of the 4,000 species of songbirds. How do these birds learn songs? How do they know to mimic the songs of their own species? Are they born knowing how to sing? Partha P. Mitra illuminates the beautiful world of birdsong.
Lesson by Partha P. Mitra, animation by TED-Ed.
Find more stimulating Ted-ed videos by subscribing to their channel here
Discover and subscribe to SBS videos here
via SongBird Survival | Blog | How do birds learn to sing?
Good news from Scotland
Scotland’s woodland and farmland bird numbers have increased over the past two decades but, during this time, upland birds have faced decline
That is according to a Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) report published last week entitled, The Official Statistic for Terrestrial Breeding Birds
The latest results reveal varied trends for Scotland’s terrestrial breeding birds, with woodland birds increasing by 67 per cent between 1994 and 2016, farmland birds increasing by 13 per cent, but upland birds decreasing by eight per cent.
Woodland specialists, such as great-spotted woodpecker and chiffchaff, have shown the largest increases. Great-spotted woodpeckers have expanded across Europe, possibly as a result of increased forests and woodlands becoming more connected.
For farmland species, goldfinches have continued to increase and are now a common sight in most gardens. Whitethroat, a small migratory warbler, has also bounced back from its historical lows associated with droughts in its Sahelian overwintering grounds in Africa.
Upland birds are the most concerning group, with declines for 10 of the 17 species. Among the largest declines are breeding waders, including curlew, golden plover and lapwing. Major work is under way to help tackle these declines, including extensive peatland restoration and the Working for Waders project.
Read more on The Oban Times (follow link below)
via SongBird Survival | Blog | Good news from Scotland
Today we received an email from one of our members
I thought you’d like to see this photo…..
The wood cost less than £20 and the only other thing I had to buy was some chainsaw-friendly aluminium nails for £2.15. All the other bits and pieces I had to hand such as nails and screws. Some of the boxes are hinged with old tyre inner tube which is now on its third life having spent the last few years cut into strips and used to support some newly planted Scots Pines.
I’m lucky that I have an air-stapler in the shed but they didn’t take too long to make….hopefully it shows what can be achieved with very little £ outlay.
A bit rough and ready I know but if any of the tenants complain I’ll address that in due course!!!!!
They are all now up in position and I’m really looking forward to seeing them occupied.
We’d love to see more of your fantastic bird boxes, feeders, birds in your garden – or simply ideas and tips we can share. Send yours to: firstname.lastname@example.org
via SongBird Survival | Blog | Nest boxes for NNBW
Our PhD student Hugh has successfully published another paper from his Gardens for Birds project.
Great Tit – Parus major – one of the species studied in this project
In this study, Hugh wanted to investigate how the local environment helps determine the materials used in nest construction, how this differs among related species using similar nest sites, or if materials used directly or indirectly influence the numbers of offspring successfully reared.
He found that use of anthropogenic material affects songbird nest arthropod community structure. Specifically, more man-made material used in tit nests resulted in more fleas in the nests.
Clearly, urbanisation may have wide ranging and little studied effects on our urban songbird populations. Hugh’s work identified that nest boxes are ecological communities in their own right; they may be more complex than they first appear, and worthy of consideration for further investigation.
Read the entire paper here.