Friday, 25 April 2014

Observing the birds

Observing the birds

If you are planning a garden, or thinking of putting up a bird feeder the simple act of spending time observing can tell you where to best place a feeder.

A very simply plan of the house and garden in relation to our boundary hedge (house = red, hedge = green, bird feeder = black and pond = blue, grey = car area) can demonstrate a good place for a feeder.

I observed the birds coming from all directions and then using the hedge as a corridor. They seem to avoid flying over open ground if possible. By placing the bird feeders next to the hedge I have attracted many more birds into the garden. One of the feeders is little more than 4 feet away from the house. I have observed the birds entering the hedge at either end, they seem to wait and check things out and then slowly move along the hedge until they get opposite the feeders.

They use the hedge as a safe haven and from there can simply make a very short flight onto the feeder. The further you move the feeders away from the hedge the less birds use it, so much so that 2 feeders with the same feed in but separated by 2 feet will show a marked difference in how much food has been taken. The one 2 feet further away takes twice as long to get eaten.

It makes sense to use natural bird corridors when choosing where to put your feeders and if you want to bring birds close enough to a window you need to provide the birds with cover right up to the feeder.

Simply placing a feeder in the middle of your garden may attract birds but by observing how birds like to move around using the safety of cover you can attract many more by either providing a corridor for them or by placing the feeder next to the cover.

Since placing the feeders next to the hedge I have also noticed that the birds are nesting close to the feeders, which makes sense.

Also by having the hedge corridor I can see that birds flying from one field to the next seem to choose to divert from their normal path in order to use the hedge and appear at the other end of the hedge to continue their flight to the next field, even when they aren't stopping to get my food.

Placing the pond next to the hedge, or at least close to it, I can also see that in the morning and often later at night birds flying home to roost seem to regularly stop off for a drink at the pond before continuing.

It's one thing to try and make your garden into a wildlife haven but by using the birds natural instincts to hide you can increase the potential birds by a big number coming to the feeder, and also your own enjoyment of them by bringing the hiding places right up to your window. 

I had seen a load of Gold Finches at the far end of the hedge, they seemed to always fly off away from the house until I placed Niger seed on to the bird feeder pole, then it became apparent that they have always travelled up and down the hedge upto the house but I hadn't seen them at the house end because they didn't come out of this part of the hedge. Once the food was there they started appearing from the house end of the hedge to get the seed. When the seed runs out I can see them still hiding in the hedge but they won't come out, replace the seed and within minutes they appear!.

I hadn't seen any Dunnocks at the feeder last year but this year there are and I think what has happened is that the more Great and Blue Tits feed the more seed ends up on the floor as they are very messy feeders, and with the more seed on the floor the more times a Dunnock appears because they like feeding off of the floor. Attracting one type of bird seems to help attract other types.


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