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.
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.
Long-term monitoring research – watch our videos on this subject
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.
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.”
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.
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
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.”
Fascinating new Ted-ed video
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.
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)
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
Original post on Ornithology Exchange. 2 – 3 volunteer field assistants are needed to help with field research on nesting seabirds. Fieldwork will occur at Burgess Island, New Zealand. Rats were removed from Burgess in 1990, and since, seven Procellariiform seabirds have established breeding colonies at Burgess (White-faced Storm-petrel, Black-winged Petrel, Grey-faced Petrel, Sooty Shearwater, […]
Did you know today is Suffolk Day? Celebrating the beautiful county of Suffolk!
Our long-term farmland bird research project is based in the wonderful Suffolk countryside. Sadly, in spite of dedicated wildlife-friendly farming efforts at this site, the number of breeding songbird territories has declined by 30% in 10 years.
SongBird Survival is working to find out why. Read more about this project on our website: http://bit.ly/2rPttn4