As most of you know, we have a very large almost acre garden here with mature oaks and beech trees plus pond area and we are lucky to have more than our fair share of garden birds of various species. Each morning we put out two bowls of live mealworms particularly for the tit members who are at their most active with either nestlings or fledglings to feed constantly. Birds get to know the routine and follow us to the garage each morning waiting for the mealworms to appear. Once they empty the bowls we leave them to forage for natural food until later in the afternoon when we provide a top up before they go to roost for the night. Rightly or wrongly, we follow the rspb guidelines to feed birds all year round but equally appreciate the valid views on only feeding during winter months. I guess what influences our decision is not totally selfish reasons to see the birds close up but rather looking at a blue tit in particular at the end of breeding season and seeing just how tatty and worn out they look having reared a nest full of chicks. Maybe if we didn't feed only 6 chicks would survive and leave a stronger gene pool - I really have totally mixed feelings about doing the right thing based on scientific evidence but it's still hard to look at a parent blue tit (trying not to be too anthropomorphic) and not offer some sort of assistance with live mealworms. I think the jury is still out for me but I do try let the birds forage naturally in-between spells of putting out food. We have no hanging feeders now except for one sunflower heart feeder which the two pairs of bullfinches use along with Coal Tit and Nuthatches; I also remove that 8 port feeder throughout the day so birds forage naturally so I am changing (ever so slightly ! ) in favour of mixing a bit of help with letting the birds do their own natural food sourcing.
Here's a video clip which is totally unedited where I just left the camera to run so there may be a few seconds with no activity throughout the clip but still shows you the abundance of tit members in particular that nip back and forth each morning to collect the worms.
"Each kindness shown to birds or men is sure to flutter back again"
Those are very valid opinions Rob and well thought out, I truly never know if I am doing more harm than good - it is such a mine field with varying views on supplementary feeding but I guess whilst rspb are selling food in their online shop are we ever going to get an objective view ? ! I will definitely cut down on the supplementary feeding that I do now during spring/summer months as there is certainly enough natural foods for the birds and we have lots of oak trees with the oak leaf caterpillars and insects/larvae that live behind the craggy bark. I have given peckish suet nuggets to the corvids as they contain mealworms and other seed and I still occasionally put raw pastry out which has sunflower heart, kibbled peanuts and berry suet which many birds including corvids, woodpeckers and tits will take.
Holy Moly, no wonder you go through 2kg of live mealies in a day, feeding that lot!! I don't know who was going the fastest, the birds back and fore to the two dishes, the running water or the fiddlers in the music!! One of those Great Tits could not pack enough in his beak and was not satisfied with one dish bit had to go into the second one as well! Great video Hazel, thanks for sharing.
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Hazel in the Gironde estuary, France
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