On the Fourth Day of Christmas – birds call for help
In 2013, the British Trust of Ornithology estimated that the UK was home to at least 84 million breeding pairs of birds. What can we do this Christmas, to answer their calls for help?
On the fourth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me four calling birds…
It’s official – there are more birds than people in the UK, by a factor of just over two birds per person. They come in all shapes and sizes, from giant barn owls to teensy little robins, and have a variety of diets and nesting habits.
But just because they outnumber us, that doesn’t mean they are best left alone and don’t need a bit of help. Quite the opposite – British birds are calling for help. What can you do to answer that call?
Putting out feed saves birds
An increasing number of Brits have become avid bird-watchers, especially since lockdown began. Our feathered friends like to congregate close to us, especially if they see an opportunity to get a little scrap of food. Birds residing in the British Isles, including robins, blue tits and other small breeds often live on a diet of berries, seeds, worms and small insects.
While we tuck ourselves up in the safety of our homes this winter, with plenty of food in the fridge and central heating to keep us toasty, birds are braving cold temperatures, trying to make it to the next day. The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds revealed that birds fill their waking hours having to consume 30 per cent of their bodyweight, to build up enough fat to keep warm on cold nights.
If they can’t find adequate food during any given day, birds can start to succumb to the cold very easily. By simply buying a bird-feeder, filling it with some bird seeds and hanging it up on a tree in a garden or any green space, you might help save several birds’ lives this winter.
Farmland birds most under threat
Of all the species of birds experiencing the biggest population declines in the UK, farmland birds are being hit particularly hard. As we saw, in our piece about the European turtle dove, farmers are inadvertently destroying the habitats of endangered bird species, by expanding the sizes of fields, and removing hedgerows.
In 2020, British farmers took part in the Big Farmland Bird Count, the seventh annual event since 2014. The BFBC is an initiative designed to raise awareness of the plight of endangered farmland birds. Braving all kinds of weather, over 1,500 farmers across the UK turned their eyes to the skies in February 2020, recording over 120 species on their farms. It is hoped that initiatives such as these will help farmers understand what they can do to help preserve and protect bird populations, and maintain the UK’s natural environment as a diverse home for millions of birds.