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Pigeon

Pigeons are the bullies of many a back garden. They are significantly bigger than most garden birds, and they often use their size advantage to monopolise our seed feeders and hog all the food for themselves.

If you're tired of chasing pigeons away from your bird table, there are a number of steps you can take to deter them. Follow these helpful tips from the Really Wild Bird Food team...

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wet weather bird feeding

With the weather forecast looking wet, wet, WET for the foreseeable future, it's worth taking a look at our bird feeding practices to ensure we give our feathered friends a fighting chance as the season changes, the temperature drops and natural food sources diminish.

Birds naturally waterproof themselves by preening their feathers, coating them with oil from glands at the base of their tail to help water run off. They also trap pockets of air in the downy under layers of feathers to keep them warm - like a duvet!

So in light showers, you may see them fluff up their feathers, but in heavy rain, they will flatten them down to help water run off. More...

Are you a bird lover who’s trying to attract more unusual and wild bird species into your garden?

Having a good understanding of the best wild bird food to offer in your garden will dramatically improve your chances of drawing a wide range of wild birds into your garden.

For many wild birds, the only food available to them is whatever can be scavenged from the local shrubs, bushes and, of course, the ground. So, as you can imagine - it's slim pickings. More...

A much-loved garden-dweller across the globe, the songful sparrow is a welcome addition to any garden, providing a cheery sight and a wholesome ambience.

However, a decline in numbers has led to concern over the humble sparrow’s ability to survive in the UK. 

In fact, certain areas of the UK (such as Yorkshire and London) have seen the population of House Sparrows in particular drop by a staggering 70% between 1995 and 2017, according to the Breeding Bird Survey 2018.

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feeding birds 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 means that wild birds cannot find the insects they need to feed their young, resulting in fewer eggs and fewer fledgelings. 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 fledgelings 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 fledgeling explosion, so live mealworms and wax worms are a great option to bridge that gap.

Buy Live Mealworms & Wax Worms for Birds >

 

Feeding birds wax worms and mealworms 

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 wax 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). Wax worms and mealworms 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 mealworms and wax 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 how to feed live mealworms and wax worms to 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 or wax worms 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 on the 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. Wax worms and mealworms 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

Raisins attract a variety of birds to your garden. These are nutritious for them and are loved by many birds as well as hedgehogs and squirrels. Bird feed often includes raisins in the blend. But did you know that these are very harmful for the pets? Raisins pose a potential threat to the health of the cats and dogs and if consumed by the pets may lead to grave problems such as kidney failure. This is because of the presence of possibly some particular toxin that leads to such renal failures amongst the pets. Those who have cats and dogs as pets should be very careful when it comes to handling bird feed that contains raisins.

At Really Wild Bird Food we have added a new blend of bird feed to our range that is raisin free and thus absolutely safe to use with pets around. This bird feed blend includes flaked maize and home grown and rolled naked oats, pinhead oatmeal, peanut granules, white millet and the plumpest sunflower hearts which makes this bird feed blend a high energy feed and very healthy and nutritious for the birds. This blend is best suited for a number of ground feeding birds such as robins, thrushes, blackbirds, dunnocks and finches and can be used all year round.

Those who do not have pets can go for the Ground Blend which is a fruit and nut muesli for ground feeding birds and is packed full of succulent raisins. Raisins are loved by birds such as blackbirds and thrushes and this blend is great for all such raisin lovers.

Birds Feeding in Wet Weather

Bird feeders are your best option if you want to attract a variety of birds to your garden. There are many different kinds of bird feeders available, such as feeder trays, hanging feeders, window feeders and many more. But during wet weather spells, using these feeders is not very feasible since the water creates a lot of problems for feeding the birds. If the wrong type of feeder is used, the seeds will get wet and spoil. In the event of water collecting in the feeder, your bird feed can quickly rot.

However, there are a few things that you can keep in mind which will help you to continue feeding your garden birds during wet, rainy periods and to protect your feed from getting spoilt.

Guarding against rain

To guard against rain, it makes sense to use bird feeders that are in the form of tubes rather than the trays. There are special feeders available with rain guards. These rain guards are domes that can be fitted to the feeders to protect the feed and also provide shelter for small birds. These guards help to keep the feeder seed dry and free-flowing.

 

There are also the seed saver feeders available that are specifically designed for mealworms. These feeders are durable and perfect for feeding live as well as dried mealworms. Again, these feeders come with an adjustable dome that protects the feed from getting wet.

Choosing your bird feed

When considering your choice of bird feed during wet periods, it is better to opt for a free-flowing bird mix that is high in energy as it can flow with relative ease even if it becomes a little damp. It is also wiser to not fill your bird feeders completely with the feed - instead, maintain small quantities at a time and replenish them when necessary. You'll also need to keep your feeders as clean as possible during rains.

In case of spoilt feed, you should promptly remove the feed and scrape off the dirt and discard it.

These are some small yet effective tips that will help you to maintain and protect your feeders during wet spells.

Do you have a question for our resident vet Lesley? Ask it here!

 

 

Birds are at their most vulnerable state during the winter. The weather is harsh and food is not available easily. During these difficult times, the first step in helping these birds survive is to make sure that they have access to plenty of food and drinking water. But this proves to be difficult as the harsh weathers creates problems with the food supply. The harsh weather and moisture spoils the food in the feeders. There may be snow or ice that accumulates on these feeders during winters making the food inaccessible. A few essential steps need to be undertaken in order to make sure that the feeders withstand the weather conditions and are of good use to the birds during the harsh times.

The first and the foremost is cleaning these bird feeders and making them ready for the winter. This includes disinfecting of the feeders.
The feeders should be thoroughly checked for damages and any feeders in need of repairs should be repaired before the winter.
Most of the birds rely on the feeders for their supply of food when there is a scarcity. The bird feeders should be full and the stocks need to be replenished on a regular basis in order to make sure that there is a continuous supply.


It also makes sense to make sure that the feeders are secured properly.
Since the weather is moist, lumps of bird food is formed in the feeders. So it is advisable to clean these out before refilling. Seed should be kept dry as much as possible.
There are feeders available that are meant for the winter months. These usually have better capacities.
Feeders can also be covered in order to prevent snow and ice from accumulating on them. For the same purpose, these can also be shifted to covered areas in the garden.
These are a few things that need to be considered to ensure that the birds have a steady supply of food during the trying times.

Grey squirrels are a bit like marmite - you either love them or you hate them! Some people really enjoy watching the antics of squirrels as they raid the bird feeders and try to outsmart our inventive ideas for outsmarting them! However, more often than not, people ask us for advice about how to stop squirrels (and also larger birds to a lesser extent) getting onto feeders and scaring off your favourite garden birds. They are very determined animals and can cause major damage to property and land. They can also be extremely noisy, particularly during the breeding season.

Squirrels are rodents, and are born to gnaw. Their incisors never stop growing, so they must chew constantly to keep them worn down. They can have a seemingly insatiable appetite and can easily consume up to 1kg of food per week! They are also extremely cunning and physically equipped to successfully overcome obstacles that we put in their way, as you can see in these photos below.

Anyone who has ever tried to outwit a squirrel with a mechanical device knows how difficult this can be. Squirrels can climb polished steel poles. They can leap more than 8 feet. Their tails give them phenomenal balance, allowing them to effortlessly cross long lengths of thin wire. They can dig and, yes, they can even swim. However building a moat to protect your bird feeders from squirrels is probably not the answer!

If you are troubled by squirrels in your garden and on your feeders and bird tables then you really have three options. The first is to adopt a few measures which may work. The second is to provide an alternative feeding station just for the squirrels. And thirdly- (no, we are probably not allowed to mention a catapult!) if the squirrel behaviour is becoming intolerable, then you can contact a local Squirrel Control Service who will come out, remove the offenders and give you advice about preventive measures. You are likely to find them on-line or in a local directory under Pest Control.


If you do decide to challenge their expertise (that is the squirrel expertise—not the pest control officer!) then here are a few things which you can try;

Try buying a squirrel proof feeder and hang it on a pole system in the middle of your lawn, approximately 10ft away from tree branches and bushes.

When buying a 'squirrel proof' feeder, it may be worth considering what this actually means! Some brands, e.g. Droll Yankee New GenerationTM tube feeders come with a lifetime guarantee against squirrel damage, but do not prevent squirrels accessing the food.

Caged feeders like those in the NutteryTM range are also called 'Squirrel Resistant' since the cage surrounding the central chamber will prevent easy access to the bird food - but the squirrels can still be very adept at gaining access.

We now stock a range of tube feeder 'guardians' which are cylindrical mesh caged 'guards' which sit over the top of the tube feeders. These come in a range of sizes, depending on the size of feeder you wish to protect.

Finally, there are a range of feeders which will prevent the squirrels eating the food. The two most popular and, we consider, the most effective are the Squirrel Buster Range and the Droll Yankee Flipper. The Squirrel Buster range of seed feeders are weight activated and shut off feeding ports when a squirrel lands on them.

The Yankee Flipper uses a cunning weight-activated and motorised perch ring to spin the squirrels off the feeders leaving them no time to enjoy the bird seed! The squirrels soon realise that feeding from the Flipper is impossible and leave it well alone

Other things which might be worth trying are devices which help prevent the squirrels gaining access to hanging feeders. Squirrel baffles and squirrel domes (available for use either as a hanging dome or as a pole mounted dome) act as blockers.

Greasing poles or using a squirrel slinky to stop the squirrel scaling the pole may also be worth trying.

Ground feeding your garden birds may be another alternative. Rather than hanging feeders up, try feeding from trays which are protected by ground feeding guardians. These guardians come in two mesh sizes and the small mesh (size 1) will prevent squirrels squeezing through and accessing the food. And finally, if you haven't succeeded in keeping them off and are feeling despondent - just be grateful that its only a squirrel you will find in your garden helping himself!

And finally, if you haven't succeeded in keeping them off and are feeling despondent - just be grateful that its only a squirrel you will find in your garden helping himself!

With special thanks to Jeff Pike and Steve Frampton for photographs.