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Help make eggs this Easter

Garden feeding still important…

Around 60 million pairs of birds breed in the British Isles and, from the tiny egg of a Blue Tit to the biggest swan, all of their eggs have one thing in common; a hard outer protective shell. Now is the time that some of our most familiar birds will be getting down to the serious business of parenthood. Nests will be made and the first eggs laid. The British Trust for Ornithology is providing advice on how you can help make a different egg this Easter.

With spring flowers abounding and the countryside turning green, it is easy to think that now is a time of plenty for our birds, but they need our help just as much now as they did during the winter months. Female birds, 'mums to be', will be getting ready to lay their eggs, and will be searching out and consuming calcium to help form the shells that will be the home for their developing young. By putting out a little oystershell grit with your normal bird food you can help provide a natural source of calcium for them. Research has shown that birds with access to calcium in their diet produce more eggs than those that don't. So go on, put out a little oystershell and help to make a different egg this Easter, and remember you'll be helping a 'mum to be' in your garden. Oystershell grit is available from most bird food retailers.

As the spring progresses and young birds begin to hatch they need high-energy food such as insects and other invertebrates. Even seed-eating birds like House Sparrows feed their young on insects during the first few weeks. A pair of Blue Tits will have to find around a thousand caterpillars a day to feed their young. Providing extra food at this time can help, as adults will top-up themselves at feeders, giving them the chance to use all the caterpillars and insects they find to feed their young.It is not just 'mums to be' that need a little help; seeds and berries have all but run out in our hedgerows and seed eating birds such as Goldfinches, Chaffinches and Greenfinches can struggle to find enough food until the first crops of weeds have had a chance to flower and set seed. The Greenfinch is a classic example of a bird benefiting from garden feeding at this time of the year, as their greatest mortality occurs in April and May; the months in which people traditionally stop feeding. Results of the BTO/CJ Garden BirdWatch survey show that these birds peak in our gardens at this time of the year.

Paul Stancliffe, of the Garden BirdWatch team, said, Feeding our birds during the warmer months is just as important as feeding in the winter and, with advances in bird foods, we can now provide the foods they need; from extra calcium, to live foods and special seed mixes. We can really help our birds at this most important time.

For a free leaflet on feeding the birds in your garden, please send your name and address details to GBW, Room 37, BTO, The Nunnery, Thetford, Norfolk, IP24 2PU, email gbw@bto.org or telephone 01842-750050.

4th July 2014