Friday, 12 June 2020 18:30:00 Europe/London
'Wren' is dinner ready?
You may be lucky to see Wrens visiting your wildlife haven, but what do you feed them? Wren’s will tend to favour live foods but they’re not always readily available especially whilst we are experiencing this unusual warm spring weather, worms tend to bury themselves further underground where’s it’s moist. Only a good rainfall will bring earthworms to the surface. So, a good option to feed Wrens in your garden is nutritious dried mealworms - packed full of protein and an ideal staple food for young Wren chicks. Ideally serve them up soaked in water overnight to make them plump and more palatable. Especially during nesting time. You can rest assured they will also take them away to feed their chicks.
Wrens may eat live foods, but they're accustomed to eating sunflowers hearts and seed mixes that have dropped on the ground from raised feeders. You may want to add a ground feeder to your bird feeding routine, as Wrens will forage on the ground keeping a low-profile from predators. Use a small mesh ground feeder to serve them up, positioned under a dense bush or vegetation to make them a regular visitor to your garden. You can also use the mesh tray on your feeding station positioned near to the ground. Alternatively, you can always just scatter the mealworms on the ground between the plants to give them shelter from danger or even under the patio table. Noticeably, willing Wrens will eat out of a hanging mealworm feeder talong with many other common small garden birds - but know this is not their favourite place.
How to spot a Wren?
The Wren is easily recognisable by its rich brown plumage, dumpy and almost rounded body, with a fine bill and a strikingly short narrow tail often held upright. The underparts are paler with grey barring. For such a petit bird it has a surprisingly loud voice and can hit two notes at the same time. Throughout the UK the Wren is the most common UK breeding bird with 8,600,000 territories. So, you may be unaware that you have this frequent visitor in your garden foraging very actively in dense shrubbery.
How do Wrens nest?
During courtship the male will sing alerting the female to possible nesting sites. The male and females can often have more than one mate; the females can even move on and leave the current mate to raise their first brood, while she moves to another male's territory to nest again. Wrens nest in various sites such as cavities, natural tree hollows, old woodpecker holes or narrow openings in buildings. They’re also known to nest in enclosed spaces like flowerpots, parked cars, shoes and drainpipes. These nesting sites are usually positioned low to the ground. The male will build incomplete nests in several places to attract the female to mate - then the female will complete the nest, adding her finishing touches. Each nest is built on a foundation of twigs, topped with softer plant debris, grass, animal fur and feathers.
A Wren can lay up to 7 eggs or occasionally more. All eggs are white and feature several reddish-brown dots. The incubation period usual last between 12-15 days. After a fortnight or so after hatching the chicks will fledge the nest. The juveniles look similar to adult birds but are redder with a streaked head and nape and darker underparts.
Thursday, 9 April 2020 18:30:00 Europe/London
UPDATE - We have our winners!
Congratulations to Abigail Boughtwood (Age 8), Phoebe Tonner (Age 10), Zachary Wilson-Dooley (Age 6)! We'll be in touch shortly with your parents to arrange your prize.
View the winning pictures and the rest of the entries on our Facebook page here.
This week we have something a little different - a colouring contest!
We've created a drawing inspired by nature depicting bird activity in British gardens. Each entry submitted will be in with a chance of winning a bird feeding starter kid (details below). The 3 lucky winners will also have their artwork displayed on our website and facebook. The competition is open to children only, but adults are more than welcome to have a go too!
Getting involved is easy, just download the PDF, print it off and then have fun colouring it in! When you're done, send us your photos to [email protected].
Competition closes midnight Monday 13th April and the winners will be announced on Wednesday 15th April 2020.
The perfect starter kit for feeding your garden birds, including bird feeders and a variety of seeds. The kit contains: 2kg Everyday No Grow Seed Blend, 2kg Sunflower Hearts, 20 Premium Fat Balls, 2 x Premium Seed Feeders, Suet Fat Ball Feeder
Download The Image
Friday, 3 April 2020 09:35:14 Europe/London
This year, April as we know it - will be very different as we all reside safely within our homes. Despite the strange times we currently live in, our gardens are all starting to witness increased wildlife activity. The weather-beaten plants and trees are beginning to bloom and flourish as they embark on enriching the landscape for the summer months ahead. At this time, the garden bird is either in courtship or still in search for a mate. You may see some birds in mid-flight carrying twigs and debris, which is a clear sign they are constructing a nest to raise their first brood.
Birds will often ‘stakeout’ the desired nesting location to ensure there’s no risk of danger. In most cases, it’s the female that builds the nest, but in some cases, the male of the species is on ‘wing’ to help her. Yet not all species run to the aid of their partner, some simply do nothing (sound familiar!). The gathered twigs, leaves and debris are entwined together to form a primary structure. For extra bonding, birds will use a natural glue such as their own saliva, spider webs and mud. Each nest is built to its own design which is unique to that particular species.
Whatever species of bird you have in your garden, you can help them by hanging nesting wool in a caged suet feeder to provide softness and warmth, or even as you begin your spring garden clean, be sure to leave extra piles of twigs and leaves in nooks to give birds the opportunity to collect as required. The Tit family tends to choose the softest of nesting materials, for instance animal hair, hay, dandelions seed and discarded feathers.
The Robin Redbreast will also gather soft materials and moss to build their nest, often located nearer to the ground among climbing plants, hedges and log piles. Robins are famous for turning human items like kettles, wellington boots and dormant hanging baskets in to nesting sites. So be aware not to leave those walking boots outside for too long!
You may be excited when finding out that you have birds nesting in your garden as they let you witness the joy of nature from your doorstep. However, please remember getting too close to a nest can intimidate adult birds and you’ll been seen as a threat, in some cases this may cause the nest to be abandoned. All garden bird nests are protected by British law. It is illegal to deliberately disturb or destroy a live nest of any species.
Nature may well be thriving, yet natural food supplies are still in short supply. For many bird lovers this is also a crucial time for feeding as many species appear to expend considerable time and energy building nests, this leaves little time to find food. By ensuring your feeders remain topped up and by putting out extra feeds such as high energy suets, you will give your garden birds the extra boost to help finish their project.
Your help will empower our garden birds to raise the next generation and you will reap the benefits from seeing an abundance of fledglings visiting your feeders during the summer months. To prepare for this, make sure you have plenty of essential foods such as peanut granules to avoid them from choking on whole peanuts, sunflower chips and protein rich foods such as our delicious Fledgling Mix with added mealworms to see them through to adulthood.
As you relax or garden this Spring and Summer, we would love to see any bird activity going in your own wildlife haven, please email them to us at [email protected]. They may even appear on our website and Facebook page!
Friday, 10 January 2020 16:40:49 Europe/London
It's well known that winter is a difficult time of year for our cherished garden birds and many unfortunately perish from starvation, especially if a harsh winter arrives. The good news is that you can make a big difference to help your garden birds survive through the winter with the following simple tips.
Fat sources are essential for your garden birds during winter, but please don’t place the left over fats from your cooking or the margarine or vegetable oil you eat yourself. This has no nutritional benefit to your garden birds. Try our suet balls, suet pellets and suet blocks as these provide excellent nutrition, energy and improve fat reserves. If you’re lucky you might attract the Great Spotted Woodpecker!
Peanuts are great high energy food for birds as they contain fibre, fat and protein in abundance. They are ideal for attracting greenfinches, house sparrows, nuthatches and siskins. They really are an incredibly powerful winter food.
Provide nutritious seeds such as Sunflower hearts and our seed blends as these specially formulated blends are crammed full of energy and protein. The birds will flock in large numbers to these nutritious feasts.
Use Ground Feeders - in addition to stocking the feeders with sunflower hearts, seed blends, Niger and peanuts, please spare a thought for the blackbirds, thrushes, sparrows and robins who feed from the ground.
Keep a constant supply of fresh water for both drinking and bathing to prevent dehydration. A small floating ball can prevent the water freezing or alternatively try our Ice Free product and CitroSan Sanitizer to reduce the spread of disease in your bird baths.
Be consistent and keep feeding your garden birds through the winter as they grow accustomed to you and especially in severe weather. The feeds you supply can be the key to their survival.
Wednesday, 11 December 2019 16:56:37 Europe/London
The robin is consistently recognised as the UK’s Number 1 favourite and is synonymous with Christmas. Its attractive plumage and friendly inquisitive nature have endeared it to generations with its regular appearances in the gardens. Other species of our feathered friends are just as evident during the Christmas and the winter months, yet the robin is the one that resonates at this time of festive cheer.
Did you know that when the first Christmas cards started to be sent during the mid-18th century, they were delivered by postmen wearing bright red coats. These postmen were nicknamed "robins" or "redbreasts" with the popular early cards of the era displaying the robins who characterized them.
Another bygone folklore comes from the legend that the robin got his redbreast when pierced by a thorn from Christ’s crown as he hung from the cross. This reality is unlikely as Christmas cards only began to show religious images a great many centuries later, so it’s most likely that the first explanation is correct.
Sadly, in ignorance during the Victorian era robins were often killed to provide feathers for decorating Christmas cards. Fortunately these days we are much fonder of the robin and indeed our other feather friends! It was during the 1960s that Britain adopted the robin as its favourite bird, although it was never officially confirmed. In 2015 there was another survey to find Britain’s favourite national bird, with the robin once again taking 1st place. This orchestrated the organisers to request that the government officially recognise the robin as Britain's national bird.
Despite its cheerful nature the robin is quite an aggressive and territorial species, with males sometimes fighting to the death to defend their adopted boundaries. Unlike many other birds robins remain on their own during autumn and winter and will sing to proclaim their territory. What resonates as a cheerful winter song to us, is actually a warning to ward of other robins coming too close!
Male and female robins are virtually identical in appearance with a brown crown, wings, upper parts and tail, a grey band along the sides of the breast, a white belly and of course the famous "red breast", which is actually more of a deep orange colour. The younger birds have no red in their plumage and have spotty brown coloured feathers.
Robins breed from March to August and build a cup-shaped nest made from grass, leaves, or even hair. Unfortunately natural shelters these days are diminishing, so adding a nest box to your garden will help to support the next generations survive and thrive within your garden.
Robins are found in most gardens and to humans are one of the tamest wild birds, happily feeding alongside gardeners as they work. They will even take live food such as worms from the hand. In the harsher winter months they will become even more confident as they become vulnerable to food shortages caused by ice, snow and diminished natural food sources. You can support your local Robins by feeding them our Robin and Softbill seed blend, suets (e.g. fat balls) and dried mealworms
Thursday, 5 December 2019 13:52:52 Europe/London
Friday, 1 November 2019 14:53:44 Europe/London
In this guide, we'll show you how you can help your birds this Autumn, plus find a 10% discount* below to help you get started (or stocked up).
Autumn is always marked by the falling of leaves and berries on the hedgerows. It’s also the time when you start to see more birds in your garden as they start feeding in earnest to ensure their survival through the harsher months ahead.
During October look out for; Robins laying claim to their winter feeding territories, Coal Tits returning to your garden to grab food and then hide it somewhere for later! Large murmurations of Starlings gathering at dusk to roost through the night, and then disperse during the day to feed. Winter thrushes, like Redwings also start to arrive.
Here’s how to Help Your Garden Birds Survive and Thrive!
Autumn is the time when it becomes important to help our feathered friends. You can do this by keeping your feeders full with high energy food sources, as the reality is without our help many are likely to perish in the colder months to come.
Here’s how you help make the difference:
- Support your garden birds with high protein bird blends such as Premium Robin and Softbill No Mess Seed Blend, Premium Mealworm Hi Energy Seed Blend, Premium Gold, and Robin Autumn/Winter Mix. Suet balls, suet blocks and suet pellets are also a perfect combo as they provide both nutrition and energy benefits. Starvation is the biggest threat our garden birds face so providing them with regular, reliable food sources can be the key to helping support their survival. P.S- dried mealworms are also a favourite!
- Add more feeders to your garden as this will potentially create the environment for more varieties of garden birds to visit your garden. For smaller garden areas bird feeding stations and window feeders are ideal. Did you know birds such as Blue Tits have to eat over a third of their own body weight to survive? This is also the time of year to clean out your feeders to prevent the build up of any fatal diseases that can kill our garden birds.
- Ensure you provide water as it’s essential for our garden birds and can be provided by water drinkers, water trays on feeding stations and bird baths. As the weather turns colder frost can cause the water to freeze so consider adding a bird-safe de-icer to the water, we can recommend one from our carefully selected range.
- Did you know this is the best time to empty your nest boxes and introduce more as is it’s a fact that there are not enough nesting holes or natural roosting spots to ensure our feathered friends all survive during the colder winter months. Now the birds ave finished breeding and there are unlikely to be any wasps inside the nest boxes it’s best the best time to clean and relocate if they haven’t been used as it may be due to them not being sited in the best location in your garden. After emptying, wash out with boiling water (taking care not to scald yourself) or mild disinfectant. Always remember, it is illegal to keep any eggs that you may find.
Key Facts To Consider in Siting Your Next Box
- Face away from strong northerly or easterly winds
- Face away from direct sunlight
- Secured around 6’ up the tree to prevent predators such as cats
- Away from smothering vegetation such as ivy that will make it difficult for fledglings to attempt to leave the nest box until their really ready. If you follow the above there’s an excellent chance you’ll be rewarded with fledglings next spring and really make a difference in supporting the sustainability of of favourite garden birds.
Lets also spare a thought for the hedgehogs as they plan their annual hibernation so please think carefully before disturbing any leaf piles, garden debris areas and check any bonfire sites carefully before starting the fire.
To help you get started, we're offering 10% off across our website until Midnight Monday 4th November. Use code AUTUMN at the checkout to get your discount. If you're reading this after the 4th, be sure to sign up to our emails for more tips, offers and discounts.
*discount code expires midnight 4th November. Sign up to our emails for more offers.
Tuesday, 6 August 2019 13:10:29 Europe/London
Hedgehogs were once common in the UK, often seen foraging for food in gardens in the early hours of the morning. These days it’s a different story, with hedgehogs vanishing from our Gardens at an alarming rate. Estimates put the decline at somewhere around the 30% mark in the last decade, putting numbers at around one million left.
There are a variety of reasons for this, but with so much building work going on around us, habitat loss is surely one of the major factors.
But the good news is there are steps we can all take to help our little spiky friends in our gardens. Below we’ve highlighted some of the ways you can help hedgehogs survive the summer in your gardens whilst they prepare for their October/November hibernation period.
1. Access to your garden
You might think this is pretty obvious, but how to do it is the key here. The best thing you can do is to cut a gap around 13cm by 13cm in your garden fence. This will help to link up your garden with neighbouring gardens and provide both easy access and easy escape for hedgehogs.
As an added bonus here, it’s worth talking to your neighbours to let them know that you’re doing (if nothing else to explain why you’re drilling through your shared fence!) and to invite them to do the same at the other side of their garden.
If you have concrete gravel board bases on your fence panels, you could either dig down and put a pipe in, or replace one of your gravel boards with a hedgehog friendly one.
2. Encourage them in with food and water
Providing regular sources of fresh water and healthy Hedgehog foods will encourage hedgehogs to return.
During the hot summer months, many of us have complained about sleepless nights, sticky public transport and generally being uncomfortable, but spare a thought for our wildlife.
We do at least have reliable access to drinking water, but natural water sources might dry up. To help prevent hedgehogs in your garden becoming dehydrated, leave a shallow bowl of water in your garden for our prickly friends to drink from. It could help save their lives.
You could also help them out by supplying them with readily available food. Our Spikes & Brambles Hedgehog specially formulated foods are ideal food sources as they provide the right balance of nutrients, vitamins, and minerals.
It’s particularly important to put out food on the days when it gets really hot, as the ground might be too dry and hard. This makes it more difficult for hedgehogs to forage.
Just a note on milk. Please avoid giving hedgehogs milk, as it can really upset their digestive system. Instead, stick to providing a shallow bowl of fresh water.
3. Cover up any drains or holes
If you have open drains or holes around your garden, make sure they have a drain cover on them. Most drains do come with them, but it’s worth a check!
If you have a pond, consider placing bricks or a wooden board to allow hedgehogs to get out again if they need. Rocks and planting baskets do a similar job. Hedgehogs can swim if they do accidently fall in, but they can’t climb up slippery edges.
Perhaps not a problem for that many of us, but if you have a cattle grid at the end of your lane or nearby, bricks or a plank can help hedgehogs that fall in to get back out.
4. Be careful when gardening
Things like strimming and mowing the lawn might not seem like much of an issue, but hedgehogs might be hiding in the grass. Take a good look around before you start.
We also recommend looking in compost heaps before forking them over and before lighting bonfires – both favourite haunts of our spiky friends.
5. Make them a home
By leaving part of your garden untended and ‘wild’, you give hedgehogs a safe place to forage and sleep. Once you’ve designated a spot, add some leaves and piled logs to encourage them in and also to encourage their food sources. If you’re really lucky, hedgehogs might choose to nest in your garden!
6. Give them a home
If you can’t designate an area of your garden to become ‘wild’, then consider buying a hedgehog home for them instead (or as well!). Purchase a hedgehog home and put it in a quiet part of your garden.
7. Once you’ve made your garden safe, keep it safe!
Avoid using harmful chemicals in your garden, as these could be harmful if ingested by hedgehogs.
Be careful of any larger animals such as dogs. Keep an eye on your dog, especially in the evenings.
Wednesday, 15 May 2019 11:18:05 Europe/London
If you're reading this, there's a good chance that at some point you've had some unwanted birds or animals getting at your garden bird feeders and you're wondering what you can do to keep them at bay. It's a question we get a lot, so we've written this guide to help you understand the differences and choose the best bird feeder for you and your garden.
For some garden bird feeders, larger birds and squirrels can take large amounts of food. As you can imagine, there are hundreds of feeders, many of which claim to be squirrel proof or pest proof, but often they’re not. In this guide, we’ll talk you through the different feeders and provide some hints and tips to keep pests at bay.
How to keep squirrels off your feeders
Squirrels are surprisingly clever when it comes to finding ways to get at free food. Just a quick search on YouTube brings up hundreds of videos of the antics of squirrels attempting to get at bird feeders. Here’s a couple of our favourites:
So how can you keep them at bay? The easiest thing to do is to buy a good quality squirrel proof feeder. These come in two main types;
- Spring loaded squirrel proof bird feeder
- Caged squirrel proof bird feeder
Spring loaded feeders have a small spring inside them, which causes the holes at the bottom of the feeder to snap shut when a squirrel or large bird lands on them. Smaller birds aren’t heavy enough to trigger this mechanism, so they can feed as normal. They’re effective, but as they have moving parts, they won’t always have the same lifespan as a caged feeder. A good quality feeder will help you get many years out of your feeder.
Caged feeders are a simpler design, but can take up a bit more space. The cage keeps squirrels away from the bird seed by simply putting the seed out of reach.
We stock a range of these feeders for all budgets, the most popular being the Squirrel Buster by Brome.
How to keep large birds off your feeders
Most feeders are designed to keep larger birds off your feeders by having a smaller perch. This makes it difficult for larger birds to feed. Some of them are very canny though, so you could look to buy either a spring-loaded feeder, or a caged feeder, which along with keeping squirrels at bay, have the added benefit of keeping larger birds away. Lastly, avoid putting your feeders close to handy perches such as branches that larger birds can use.
What else can I do to keep unwanted birds and animals away?
Another way you can help keep squirrels at bay is by feeding a no mess mix. When you feed normal seeds, you might notice birds leave a mess under your feeders. Unfortunately, other animals might also notice this and investigate, leading to some admitedly fascinating squirrel antics, but ultimately stolen bird seed!
If you're getting a lot of wood pigeons at your feeders, you should consider switching to a good quality seed mix that has low or no wheat content, as wheat is particularly attractive to Wood pigeons and other pigeon/dove species.
Our No Mess, No Grow Mix is a mix of seeds with the husks removed. It’s the husks that the birds would normally drop when they’re eating at your feeders, so this feed aims to reduce the mess and leave your garden tidy!
View our entire range
You can view our entire range of squirrel proof feeders on our website.
Thursday, 9 May 2019 14:58:44 Europe/London
This week, try our Bird Identification Quiz and test your bird knowledge! We had over 500 responses to our last quiz,with a fantastic average score of 7.5/10, so this week we've decided to make it just a little harder.
There isn't a prize for this weeks quiz, but if you complete the quiz to the end, you might just find a little surprise. A thank you from us for taking the time to play! You'll find it after clicking on 'submit' on the final bird (there's 10 to guess).
Can you guess the birds in this week's quiz?
Terms and Conditions
Play the quiz and unlock a secret discount code for our website. The code will expire on Sunday 19th May and is limited to one use per customer. The code cannot be used alongside other offers.