3 Juvenile Blue Tits hang out beside the Nut feeder (c. Oran O’Sullivan)

A number of people have remarked that the garden is alive again with young birds, fresh out of the nest and sitting around like bored students.. waiting to be fed!

While folk have been feeding birds in summer for 20 years or more now, in other words conventional wisdom changed its opinion back then and many of us changed to year round feeding in the garden.  For sure, I have varied the amount of food on offer, but I am still filling and refilling a peanut feeder every three days.  When i provide our own Robin and Wren blend, a feeder full disappears daily.

Feeder food is part of the woodland birds diet in our area: squadrons of Blue, Coal and Great Tits are joined by House Sparrows a Chaffinch or two and a few Greenfinches.  All bow out when the Great Spotted Woodpeckers come to chisel away at the Peanuts. Best of all the smart red capped juvenile woodpecker came for its first visit but seemed unable to figure out how to figure out a way onto the feeder from the trunk of the willow tree.

Young Great Spotted Woodpecker on its first visit (c. Oran O’Sullivan)

  All these birds choose to visit, its part of their (and our) routine.  They are not dependent on the food we provide, its just easier and birds are not lazy as such: they just need to make the best choices for survival.  Back in the blizzards of late spring, birds were in fact dependent on us, for those few weeks.

We feed to experience wild, up close, just like a nest box brings the lifecycle close enough to witness.  Its a powerful force and perhaps the most effective way of implanting environmental responsibility in a generation.