We have turned our gardens and outdoor spaces into open-air restaurants for birds by providing such things as sunflower hearts, peanuts, and suet.
Forty years ago nearly half of garden birds visiting bird feeders belonged to just two species – the starling and sparrow, but jump forward four decades and the species have grown to include goldfinches and long-tailed tits.
Researchers writing for Nature Communications say that by continuing to support our bird population we are helping to re-shape the urban bird community.
Birds such as wood-pigeons, nuthatches, and great spotted woodpeckers were once scarce in gardens, but it seems that they are being enticed in by such tasty treats like fat balls and soft foods.
It is also thought that feeder designs have helped. Old-fashioned feeders, which only favoured species like the tit family, have been replaced with feeders with perches, allowing other birds to access food safely.
‘We are substituting food we’ve taken away from elsewhere, such as spilt grain from less tidy farms of the past," says lead author Kate Plummer of the BTO. "The food that we are offering is helping birds such as sparrows from declining even more."
By feeding good quality food and keeping our feeders clean we are doing all we can to help - and it looks like we must continue to keep up the good work.
Years ago bird feeding was solely a winter activity but an increasing amount of us are now feeding birds all year round. We (Haith's) have always advised to continue feeding garden birds throughout spring, summer and into the colder months - as it seemed obvious to us that breeding parents and fledglings need our help even more during spring and summer. We're pleased that - over the past ten years, or so - that many birders have taken up the mantle and now feed all year round. And with so many more mouths to feed who wouldn’t need help!?
So the message is clear, keep bird feeding and hopefully, many of our bird populations will continue to thrive.