Going Green: Birds are so important to the UK environment

The nightingale is one of the birds which have increased. Photo: AdobeThe nightingale is one of the birds which have increased. Photo: Adobe
The nightingale is one of the birds which have increased. Photo: Adobe
News from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs shows numbers of woodland birds in the UK are declining. In the last five years just three species – blackcap, nightingale and nuthatch have increased with unfortunately, a huge 23 other species declining.

Deers, removal of hedgerows and cutting down woodland has all been to blame for reducing habitats but unfortunately it’s not just woodland birds that are declining, farmland and sea birds are reducing In numbers too due to intensive farming, over fishing and climate change. The RSPB has said all bird trends are “dipping downward” which is disastrous news for the whole country.

There are things we can all do to encourage birds into our garden and local parks though. You can decide how active you want to be – whether it’s voluntary work and supporting the RSPB or getting the kids involved at home and putting bird feed up in your garden.

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Firstly it’s worth seeing what birds you’re naturally attracting. There are apps you can download that identify birdsong so even if you can’t see what you can hear you can get an idea of what’s visiting your garden.

Once you know, you can use the RSPB website to see what foods you can leave out. It’s worth leaving out a variety if you can though, from seeds to oatmeal to mealworms – whatever your budget can afford works so if it’s only occassionally, that’s great too.

There are home made bird feeders you can make from lots of different materials but the simplest is to use old toilet rolls, spread lard, peanut butter or vegetable shortening around the outside of it, then roll it back and forth in your bird seed. You can either tie string through it and hang it up or you can put it on the edge of a branch. Make sure you take it in once it’s wet through though.

You can also use old pinecones, take the kids or grandkids with you to look for some in your local woods, then spread peanut butter or lard over them – or you can melt the fats and dip the cones in – then dip them into seeds. These ones can be left out and don’t need to be taken in.

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You can also recycle plastic bottles by making holes in them and feeding sticks or chopsticks through the holes that birds can use as perches then make smaller holes before filling the bottle up with seed. The birds can sit and get the seeds out the smaller holes – just beware of squirrels who may try and join in.

Birds are so important to the UK environment as well as spreading joy. They’re predators as much as they are prey and keep ecosystems in balance. They’re also seed dispersers and can be pollinators too. With numbers going the way they are, encouraging them into our gardens could make a difference and halt the pace of the decline.

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