April is always a manic month for us in the wildlife enquiries team, as it is in the natural world here in the UK! Now we have some spring like conditions, out there in the wild things are waking, nesting and generally more active! Here are 5 of the most frequently talked about topics for us so far this April!

  1. Ducks and ducklings - From the number of queries we are getting it looks like the cold weather didn't pose any problems for the UK's mallard population! Lot's of people have been finding mallards nesting in gardens, building sites and even in trees! Our advice is usually to leave them be. When they hatch it's best to allow them to pick their route but escort them at a safe distance, if you can flag down traffic so they can cross the road safely then please do so. We have some more guidance on our website which may come in handy if you find them nesting in a place with no obvious escape route!
  2. Where are they? - Given the disrupted start to spring many of our much loved migrant visitors are running late. April is generally the month when we expect to see the majority of species arriving although some like the swift leave it a bit later. Anyone who is used to having their favourite birds arriving on a set date but not finding them arriving on cue this year, don't panic there is plenty of time for them and all the signs are that the migration action is hotting up. Fingers crossed for good weather and keep your eyes to the skies! Report your sightings to Birdtrack as well please!
  3. Nesting shenanigans - Most nature lovers have at some point opted to put a nesting box up (if you have not then why not?). Now is the time when nesting material is gathered, mating takes place, quarrels break out and some early starters have chicks to feed. Unless you have a nest box camera you are forced to observe all of this from the outside, don't be tempted to have a peek. Nesting birds do have some strange habits like pecking the inside of the box or taking out lots of fresh material they brought in. I like to think the tapping around entrance holes is a kind of declaration of ownership or a bit of forward planning, roughing up the surface so the young can grab hold when they are leaving later on. However, it's not really a behaviour that is fully understood, and it won't be until we find a way of asking the blue tits!!! 
  4. Time for a trim? - Lot's of queries have come our way asking about the legality of cutting trees and hedges at this time. As a rule we advise that hedge and tree cutting should not take place between March and August as this is the key nesting season for wild birds. If you are aware of an active nest in a tree or hedge that is lined up for cutting, point it out to the contractors mentioning that it is afforded protection under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. Check out the information on the Hedgelink website.
  5. Tapping at the window - Every year during the spring many birds get really confused by the glass in our houses, offices and sheds. The males see the reflection as another male intruding on their patch and will peck at it trying to chase off this unwanted invader, with frustrating results! The best solution to this that we have found is to cover the glass where the bird is attacking with clingfilm, taped round the edges. This should cloud the reflection and remove the trigger for the behaviour, giving the bird a chance to carry on with chasing off real rivals and hopefully preventing any harm from coming to him. Collisions with windows peak at this time of year as well so please consider putting some transfers on the outside of the glass to alert birds to the presence of the glass.
Got any hot topics that you want to discuss, leave a comment!
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