−−− BY LINDA JENKINSON −−−

I’m often asked whether we ought to be feeding birds during the summer months because of the numbers of insects that are present. My advice is, if you have made the decision to feed birds in your garden, stick to that decision but adjust the amount of food you provide depending on how fast it is being eaten. This is because your garden feeders become a reliable source of food when times are hard.

Food can become scarce, even in the summer months, when temperatures drop unexpectedly or during periods of rainy weather but there are other reasons why food becomes scarce. The most obvious one is that, at this time of year, there are far more extra beaks to feed than at the beginning of the breeding season. For example, blue tits alone average 8-10 chicks per successful pair.

Another reason for the scarcity of natural food is that we tend to clear our gardens at this time of year. We dead-head our flowers and spray our prized plants with insecticides. This depletes the amount of food available.

It’s true that birds will choose to make the most of the natural food that’s around whenever possible as they need to utilise this while it’s available to vary their diet. However, most of us are not able to provide the truly natural environment they need to thrive. By providing the right amount of high quality food throughout the year you’ll help to increase the population in your area.

Linda Jenkinson teaches people about birds in and around Leeds. For details of classes email linda@startbirding.co.uk or call 07778 768719. Visit www.startbirding.co.uk or Start Birding on Facebook and Twitter

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