Really Wild Birdfood Co
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In late 2018, Netflix released the movie Bird Box starring Sandra Bullock and host of other recognisable faces.

The film follows Bullock as she is faced with the hefty task of safely navigating her family through a post-apocalyptic landscape, all while blindfolded – quite the task indeed.

Had the former Miss Congeniality been equipped with a bird box camera, the trip could have been smooth sailing from start to finish! Ideal for bird and wildlife enthusiasts alike, our bird box cameras are perfect for nature lovers. More...

Plants that attract bees

The humble bumblebee is one of the most important pollinators in the world, playing a vital part in the global ecosystem in terms of food - including fruits and vegetables - as well as other useful crops, like cotton and flax.

The pollinatory power of bees also has a profound influence on both the meat and dairy industries, as they also help pollinate clover and alfalfa - two primary food sources for cattle.

Beeswax is also used in health and beauty, as well as the cleaning industry. More...

Richard finished spring planting yesterday, with the red millet going in well. The canary seed was planted about a month ago but has been struggling in the dry soil conditions.

The beans are looking strong, but they too need a good drink. Richard planted them deeper this year to help the roots find the moisture.

Planting the millet in these very dry conditions is a risk - the seeds need to be deep enough to find moisture, but not too deep or they won't grow at all! More...

It's the breeding season for hedgehogs, and it's as important as ever to give these loveable creatures a helping hand where possible.

Although their natural habitat is woodland, our urban gardens are also favoured by them due to the plentiful supply of food and shelter. If they are very lucky, someone might have left hedgehog food out for them, too. 

Hedgehog Awareness Week is organised by the British Hedgehog Preservation Society (BHPS) between the 5th and 11th May to highlight the problems hedgehogs face and what we can do to help them. More...

Recently, a long-term customer came into the shop to make a purchase. Nothing out of the ordinary there, except she had brought with her an envelope full of old catalogues and receipts from us, wanting to know if any of it was still relevant. 

We were pleasantly surprised and delighted when she pulled out a 2009 catalogue! We thought it had long gone, and memories came flooding back for Sian who remembers very well sitting at her desk and laying out the design herself using Microsoft Publisher; not to mention the printing and stapling involved in the operation.

We sent the customer on her way with a brand new 2019 catalogue, of course, (now outsourced!) but have kept a copy of the 2009 version in the office for posterity. A lot of our seed mixes and the products we sell have remained the same, but some we had forgotten about - suet coated peanuts, anyone...? Dried earthworms...?

Have a look closely at the photos below, and you can even see how little our prices have increased in 10 years, a few pounds at most!  Some seed mixes have even come down in price as they have gained in popularity - Deluxe Robin Crumble for one.

 

 

If you have any questions about our products, or if you'd simply like to get in touch about our leaflets, don't hesitate to give us a call on 01489 896785 or email us at sales@reallywildbirdfood.co.uk.

Live mealworms

The breeding season (April to July) is a great time to feed mealworms, wax worms and other live foods to your garden birds if you don't already do so!

Of the many varieties of garden bird whose numbers are in decline in the UK, it is the insectivores who have been the worst hit. The lack of mature, native trees in our gardens and ever-decreasing areas of natural woodland mean that wild birds cannot find the insects they need to feed their young, resulting in fewer eggs and fewer fledglings. This makes live foods a more conscientious choice, particularly during periods of colder weather (when insects will hide away in warm places) and especially when you consider that the birds' activity rate during the breeding season can be 100 times greater than during the winter months.

Live mealworms and wax worms are easily digestible with a high moisture content - essential for fledglings who cannot leave the nest to drink. Other sources of moisture for them include unripe seeds, earthworms and caterpillars, but there is growing evidence to show that the peak time for earthworms and caterpillars is possibly earlier than the peak fledgling explosion, so live mealworms and wax worms are a great option to bridge that gap.

Buy Live Mealworms & Wax Worms for Birds

It has been proven that feeding live foods can have a significant positive effect on the number of chicks reared by their parents. Wax worms and mealworms are also rich in essential protein (50.4%), very safe to feed due to their vegetarian diet (no spread of nasty diseases), and much easier to store and use than you might think.

If the worms come supplied in a tub, it should already have a ventilated lid and some bran inside to keep them going, so you can just keep them cool until you're ready to use them (ideal storage temperature: 8 to 10 °C). They can go in the fridge, but this can make them a bit dormant and less wriggly - and it's the wriggling that attracts the bird's keen eye. Temperatures below 5 °C will kill the worms, while temperatures above 22 degrees will make them pupate very quickly.

They do not need light - in fact, dark is good - and if you notice their food has depleted, you can add a bit of carrot, apple, oats or potato peelings. Wax worms and mealworms can be kept this way for several months at the correct temperature.

Bulk bags of live worms are more economical, but need to be unpacked on arrival. They can be stored in a large open plastic container such as a cat litter tray or similar, at a maximum depth of 1 inch. There is no need for a lid as long as the sides are deep and clean and the container is placed somewhere where it won't be knocked over!

Mealworms

Want to know more about live worms and how to feed them to your garden birds? Here is a very informative Q&A with our founder and resident vet, Lesley:

Q. Which birds eat live worms?

A. The insect and invertebrate eaters: robins, sparrows, tits, starlings, blackbirds, wrens and thrushes.

Q. What are mealworms?

A. They are the larvae of the flour beetle (Tenebrio molitor), a native British insect that eats flour, meal, grain and other related crops. They are vegetarian, which is important because when fresh, they don't smell!

Q. Where do your live mealworms come from?

A. Our live mealworms are grown in the UK for us and are British bred! There are many companies importing mealworms from Europe; ours will be fresher as they won't have travelled far.

Q. If I order live worms, what can I expect to receive?

A. Live mealworms are delivered by Royal Mail. They will arrive in a cardboard box, and within the box will be either some plastic tubs or larger quantities within a white polypropylene bag with a cable-tied top. Please don't worry if the plastic tubs don't have air holes punched in them - the lids are made of breathable material so the mealworms will be fine.

Q. Do the mealworms smell?

A. No! There is no smell given off by mealworms if they are kept in the correct conditions. There will be some bran or clean newspaper in with them when they arrive. For those that are in tubs, you don't need to do anything. If you have bought a larger sack of them, we would suggest transferring them into a shallow, smooth-sided tray or tub.

Q. How long will the worms last?

A. Being larvae, their longevity is dependent on the conditions and temperature they are stored at. The cooler they are, the longer they will last. If you find that there is a lot of black poo appearing, the chances are it is too warm for them or they are too deep in their container.

Q. If I order them today, when will I receive them?

A. All live foods are sent by Royal Mail. They therefore take 3-5 working days and will arrive separately from the rest of your Really Wild Bird Food order (which should arrive next working day). Orders received before 12.00 on Monday to Thursday will be dispatched on the same day. Orders received on a Friday to Sunday will be dispatched on the following Monday. We are ultra careful around bank holidays (especially during the warm summer months) in case they get held up in a warm sorting office somewhere, speeding up their metamorphosis. Please order a few days earlier around a bank holiday.

Q. I would like to receive a regular weekly order - can you do this?

A. Of course! We have many customers who request scheduled live mealworm deliveries, either on a weekly, fortnightly or monthly basis. Please contact us with your request.

Q. What sort of feeder should I offer live mealworms in?

A. They need to be contained in a smooth steep-sided container (otherwise you will find they wriggle up and out and will be gone in a flash!) - ideally something with a roof or overhang to protect them from the rain and sun, and drainage holes if there is no roof. Windows feeders lend themselves to mealworms, and it's fab to get a really close-up view of your robin and other smalls birds visiting. Caged feeders are also useful since they limit access to the bigger birds which can devour a whole pot in an instant!

Would you like to purchase some live or dried mealworms for your feathered friends? Here at Really Wild Bird Food, we offer a variety of mealworms and wax worms for you to choose from! Click the link below to shop:

Live wax worms and live / dried mealworms for birds

Mothering Sunday falls on 31st March this year when the birds will be in full springtime swing! To celebrate, we have teamed up with local artisan supplier The Bird Bakery to stock a new range of pretty bird cakes, made using our own home-grown seed mixes.

Perfect for your Mum's bird table - or indeed as gifts for other bird lovers in your life - these bird cakes will delight both the recipient and their birds equally.

The Heart Bird Seed Cake is filled with premium peanuts and sunflower hearts (packed with protein and essential oils) and the heart-shaped decoration contains a blend of other high-quality seeds to attract a wide range of garden birds including Robins, Finches, Blackbirds, Tits and Sparrows to name but a few.

mother's day

 

The Bird Seed Cake Slice is similar in content, except the mixed seeds make up the 'cake' and the peanuts and sunflower hearts make up the top layer, as an energy-rich 'frosting'!

new bird food product

 

The large Spring Wreath is a blend of seed, peanuts and sunflowers hearts, ready to be hung by its hessian bow or placed on a bird table.

Each of these items is adorned with paper roses for that extra special touch, without being toxic to birds and other wildlife.

We stock the Mini Bird Seed wreaths in boxes of eight. They are a mixed bag of three varieties - premium peanut and sunflower heart with a sprinkle of mixed seed, niger seed with a blend of mixed seed, and ultra-rich mixed seed blend - designed to attract a range of birds who will enjoy swinging away when hung with the natural jute string.

Each Bird Bakery item has a 3-month use-by date, although we recommend using within one month to be as fresh and tasty as possible.

See our Gift page for more ideas! https://www.reallywildbirdfood.co.uk/categories/gifts---offers/gifts

 

 

The Wheels are Turning Again!

After a few Winter months of inactivity on the land, the extra-ordinary February weather heralded the start of the farming year and the wheels started turning in earnest. Sian's dad has been weather recording for 34 years, and this February he recorded the warmest maximum temperature since his records began; a sultry 21 degrees C on the 26th February. Needless to say, farmers all over Hampshire were hard at work making the most of the beautiful days.

The first job for Richard was to drill our spring beans. This year he is using a variety called 'Lynx' (I do often wonder about the people who market the names for seeds!). To me, Lynx is either a men's deodorant or an elusive, scarce feline. Here's hoping the beans are not that elusive or scarce this year! They had a terrible time last year with flooding and then drought, so we are hopeful growing conditions will be much better this year.

lynx seed

lynx seed field

 

Richard chose Lynx seed because it is deemed to be the highest yielding, which also has good resistance to downy mildew and a reasonable length of straw which will hopefully stand up until harvest - making it easier to combine. 

This is the first time he has drilled into a cover crop and his main concern was that our tine drill would get bunged up with the cover crop, but it coped fantastically well and the beans went in without complication. You can see the remains of the cover crop in the photos here; lots of organic material stabilising and nourishing the soil. This is a very different approach from the old traditional one of cultivating the land or indeed ploughing.

He is now just waiting for the next window of good weather to start planting our spring barley. Thereafter, weather permitting, our canary seed will go in towards the end of March/beginning of April, followed by our millets when the warmer weather arrives in mid-May. So lots to do to keep your birds well fed next year!

 

Trivia Question!

Wrens tend to be quite solitary birds, but do you know what the Collective Noun for a group of Wrens is?

Here is a clue: doorbells can do this!

The answer will be on my next newsletter...........

 

Enjoy your birds and thank you for your business.

Best wishes,

Lesley.

The official nesting season is defined as being 1st March to 31st July inclusive, so is well underway now. You may have noticed that farmers have finished hedge cutting, as it is illegal to disturb nests beyond 1st March, and you may also have seen squabbling birds fighting for territory. They may start to gather nesting materials in a likely spot, but these might not become occupied as it's usually just for practice, or to show off to a prospective mate.

With the possibility of another cold spell, it is recommended to continue with your high-energy Winter feeding until around mid-March. The birds still need to maintain Winter energy levels, and of course will need a boost for all the nest-building and showing off! 

Once things really start heating up into Spring, it is time to change your feeding routine.

  • Fat balls can easily go soft and rancid in the heat so should be avoided. Commercially made fat products are suitable for use in the summer, but may not be as popular and so any uneaten product should be discarded after three weeks. Our RWBF High Energy Fledgling mix (available from 1st April) contains MINI suet pellets, especially to reduce the choking risk for chicks while providing them with the sustenance they need.
  • Peanuts should only ever be fed from a mesh peanut feeder so that small chunks are taken back to the nest, reducing the choking risk. Seed mixes containing peanut granules are a good option.
  • Fruit such as raisins, sultanas, soft apples and pears cut in half, or even bananas and grapes can be fed.
  • Mealworms and 'buggy' treats are good to provide in case of natural insect shortages, such as during a cold or wet spell in Spring/Summer, or a particularly dry spell where earthworms cannot be picked out of the hard ground. 
  • If a lot of food is being left in Spring/Summer then reduce the amount given. It could be that there is plenty of natural food around - great! But it's best to minimise the amount of food left in and around feeders so as not to attract vermin and disease.
  • Consider helping the natural food sources - for example some plants are great at supporting caterpillars so you could grow the plant instead of providing the food itself, and let nature run its course. It need not be complicated - holly, ivy and nettles are popular!
  • Live foods such as live mealworms and waxworms are a good choice, to supplement the birds' natural diet.

'Your Bird Stories' vary greatly from garden to garden, and we love to help customers with their individual ornithological issues.

Emma Kenworthy of Fishguard had an issue with starlings. She has nothing against them personally (in fact they are in sharp decline along with many other species), it's just that they have a tendency to scare off the little birds from hanging feeders. So she sent us a great pic showing off her new Ground Feeder Sanctuary, all arranged ready for the smaller birds to discover. The mesh sides are adjustable from 33mm to 58mm width, allowing you to choose which birds are excluded, or not. 

On the ground in the middle is our Archway ground feeder. As well as the clear perspex roof keeping the rain off, it is also preventing starlings from getting at the seed on the very ends of the tray. A suet-filled half coconut is firmly attached to the roof, a Flutter Butter feeder at one end, facing inwards, and a hanging seed feeder right in the middle.

We think this set up looks fantastic, with a wide variety of feed to attract smaller birds. Hopefully they come flocking soon Mrs Kenworthy!