Tag Archives: Birds

Fat Balls

With so many birds stopping by the garden now on account of the Arctic weather buying food from the garden centre or the supermarket can start to get a bit expensive so I have been looking for alternatives so here are some tips to prepare your own bird gourmet meal.

I have been experimenting with making my own fat balls and so far I am really quite pleased with the results.

Bottom left in the picture is a beef fat preparation that I made by rendering down the fat from some sirloin steak and then adding to it some seed, fruit and oats.  Unfortunately this wasn’t a completely brilliant success and it started to melt down a bit in the warm October sunshine so it perhaps best to save this for a cold winter morning.  This wasn’t a huge problem however because the birds finished it off before it could completely drip away.  It was a success mainly with the Starlings who squabbled over it until it was gone.

Bottom right is a similar preparation but this time using pork fat and this seems to be much more successful.  It has an altogether thicker consistency and it seems to bind together so much better.  This time I added the seeds and the fruit but also some broken up bread crusts that seemed to soak up and hold the fat together well.  It looks good enough to eat yourself don’t you think?  A bit like a luxury Belgian Florentine! Again this was a big favourite with the Starlings and the Great Tit showed a great deal of interest as well.

One other little tip is that you might want to keep the kitchen window open while you are preparing the fat mixture!

Top left there is some pork fat that was left over after preparing the fat ball and this is always a big favourite with the birds and top right is the ever popular bacon fat.  Don’t throw it away, just grill it slowly for a while and the blackbirds will love it.

Don’t throw gone over fruit away either, because the birds will really enjoy chopped up grapes and oranges and as for an old pear, they will go crazy!

There are a number of places to go on the web to find out more about making your own bird food and I recommend this helpful site and page:http://www.cottagesmallholder.com/?p=357  Be careful however when you search on ‘fat balls’ because you might not always find exactly what you were expecting!

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Other posts about birds:

Blackbirds

Collared Doves

Dunnock

Mozart’s Starling

Robin

Seagull

Starlings

Starlings in the USA

Vinkensetting

_____________________________________________

Fat Balls

With so many birds stopping by the garden now buying food from the garden centre or the supermarket can start to get a bit expensive so I have been looking for alternatives so here are some tips to prepare your own bird gourmet meal.

I have been experimenting with making my own fat balls and so far I am really quite pleased with the results.

Bottom left in the picture is a beef fat preparation that I made by rendering down the fat from some sirloin steak and then adding to it some seed, fruit and oats.  Unfortunately this wasn’t a completely brilliant success and it started to melt down a bit in the warm October sunshine so it perhaps best to save this for a cold winter morning.  This wasn’t a huge problem however because the birds finished it off before it could completely drip away.  It was a success mainly with the Starlings who squabbled over it until it was gone.

Bottom right is a similar preparation but this time using pork fat and this seems to be much more successful.  It has an altogether thicker consistency and it seems to bind together so much better.  This time I added the seeds and the fruit but also some broken up bread crusts that seemed to soak up and hold the fat together well.  It looks good enough to eat yourself don’t you think?  A bit like a luxury Belgian Florentine! Again this was a big favourite with the Starlings and the Great Tit showed a great deal of interest as well.

One other little tip is that you might want to keep the kitchen window open while you are preparing the fat mixture!

Top left there is some pork fat that was left over after preparing the fat ball and this is always a big favourite with the birds and top right is the ever popular bacon fat.  Don’t throw it away, just grill it slowly for a while and the blackbirds will love it.

Don’t throw gone over fruit away either, because the birds will really enjoy chopped up grapes and oranges and as for an old pear, they will go crazy!

There are a number of places to go on the web to find out more about making your own bird food and I recommend this helpful site and page:http://www.cottagesmallholder.com/?p=357  Be careful however when you search on ‘fat balls’ because you might not always find exactly what you were expecting!

_____________________________________________

Other posts about birds:

Blackbirds

Collared Doves

Dunnock

Mozart’s Starling

Robin

Seagull

Starlings

Starlings in the USA

Vinkensetting

_____________________________________________

Bird Crèche

Baby Blackbird

I have spent a lot of time with the binoculars at the kitchen window and apart from the unfortunate incident with the neighbour who I think misinterpreted my bird-spotting hobby for peeping tom activities it has been a very satisfying weekend.

The most noticeable thing about the garden is the number of juvenile birds that have now fully left the nest and are beginning to get independent and established.  Just taking into account the sixteen bird species that visit my garden the RSPB estimates that across the United Kingdom there are about thirty-three million nesting pairs.  I have been doing some calculations and based on the number of broods and the average number of eggs that means potentially two hundred and ninety-five million extra mouths to feed each summer.  Now, I know that they are not all going to survive of course (I do watch Bill Oddie on the TV) but even allowing for a proportion of nest deaths this is still an awful lot of birds.  Across the entire World scientists estimate that there are three hundred billion and that is roughly fifty birds to every human being or a hundred million for every Giant Panda!

So the garden is like a big bird crèche at the moment and I’ve seen most of the familiar adult birds bringing the kids around to show them the ropes.  The Starlings are the most numerous and with their light brown feathers they look big and ungainly sitting next to their parents with their sleek green and purple plumage.  They look to me to be the sort of kids that won’t leave home and they follow the parents around squawking and begging for food even though they are surely big enough to fend for themselves by now.

Starlings

One thing that I am really pleased about is the increasing number of Goldfinch visiting the thistle feeder and they are bringing the little ones along as well.  Unlike the Starlings these little ones are very attractive.  They already have the distinctive black and yellow wing feathers but they haven’t developed the red faces yet, which won’t be there until the autumn.  I like to watch the Goldfinch fly because they have a sort of flicking action that is quick and distracting and creates a blur of colour as they go.  The young birds seem proud of their new coloured wings and sit on the top of the fence and practice the flicking motion in between feeding sessions.

There are other young finches as well.  The Greenfinch visitor numbers have been increasing over the last two months or so and now there are some fledglings as well.  One in particular amuses me, he already has his distinctive green colour but his head feathers are still immature and he sits on the fence proudly showing off a Stan Laurel haircut.  Even though the Chaffinch is the second most common bird in the United Kingdom I don’t see many in the garden but over the weekend a pair of adults have been visiting regularly and they have two youngsters with them.  The wing feathers have some colour but overall they are still quite dull and are a long way off full magnificent adult plumage.  The Chaffinch parents seem very protective and they sit and watch while the young ones drop to the floor and look for fallouts from the bird feeders above.

I found it surprising to learn that the Chaffinch is so common at an estimated six million breeding pairs and also that the most numerous is the Wren at about seven million so it is disappointing then that I haven’t seen one since April.  The third most common is the Blackbird at nearly five million and there have been a number of young birds in the garden already this year.  Earlier there was a nest in the wild section in the bottom of the garden and I watched three chicks hatch, develop and then just fly away.  Young blackbirds are attractive as well and have a lot of speckled markings that last year I managed to confuse for a Thrush.  They are getting quite confident now and will even feed quite close to the back door when I put out raisons for the sociable adults.

Yesterday there was a tiny baby Robin that visited the bird table.  He was about half the size of an adult and his red breast was bright was very immature and only extended a short way below his throat and certainly not across all of his breast just yet.  I watched out for him today but didn’t see him again.

In the late afternoon yesterday a tiny Sparrow landed in the Yew tree by the kitchen window and clung on for dear life.  I am sure he had left the nest too early because he was so small and he seemed reluctant to make another attempt at flying.  He kept calling out and eventually his parents came by to attend to him and bring food and watch over him.  Eventually he dropped to the floor and skipped across the lawn and into the flowerbeds under the watchful eye of his parents.  I hope he was ok, I’m sure he will be.

Sadly this morning I found the remains of another grisly murder, another Sparrow in exactly the same spot on the lawn as last time, ripped to pieces in a violent attack and now I am sure it is the Sparrowhawk.  I am confident however that it wasn’t the tiny baby Sparrow because the feathers were those of an older bird.

I like to see the young birds, it seems to justify my investment in all that bird food and this has been a good weekend.

Sparrowhawk kill 05

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Other Posts about Birds…

Blackbirds

Collared Doves

Dunnock

Fat Balls

Mozart’s Starling

Robin

Starlings

Starlings in the USA

Vinkensetting

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Collared Doves

Collared Doves really are the most stupid of all birds.  Currently there is a pair of them trying to build a nest in the eaves of my house (X marks the spot) and, it has to be said,  failing pretty spectacularly.  After six weeks it still hasn’t occurred to them that the spot that they have chosen is completely unsuitable.  Every day they deliver beak full’s of twigs to the narrow ledge above my bedroom window and everyday it falls down onto the drive and gives me a failed nesting debris sweep-up operation.

Each morning starting at dawn they sit there cooing away to each other, stopping every now and again for an avian wing-trembler, which I have to say doesn’t look very thrilling or satisfying, and then they return to their hopeless nest building task and if, against all odds, they ever get it built I am only going to take it down anyway!

The story of the Collared Dove is an interesting one.

Only a hundred years ago, the species was found primarily on the Indian subcontinent, although its range extended slightly into Europe but certainly no further than Turkey.  In the early 1900s, however, the species began significantly expanding its range and colonised as far as France, the Low Countries and Denmark and then in 1953 reached it the United Kingdom when it was spotted in Norfolk for the first time.

Today, Collared Doves are living above the Arctic Circle in Scandinavia.

The spread of Collared Doves across the United Kingdom has been very rapid. From the first breeding report in 1955 the species was subsequently reported breeding in Kent and Lincolnshire in 1957, with birds also seen as far north as Scotland.  Two years later Ireland was colonised and by 1970 there may have been as many as twenty-five thousand pairs in Britain and Ireland and between 1972 and 1976 the population increased five fold.

The Collared Dove, it turns out, is one of the great colonisers of the avian world.  After it was introduced into the Bahamas in the 1970s it managed to spread to Florida in the United States by 1982.  Its stronghold in North America is still the Gulf Coast, but it is now found as far south as Veracruz, as far west as California, and as far north as British Columbia and the Great Lakes.

All of this goes to show that although they are hopeless at building nests they regardless of this they are good at breeding and pretty spectacular at colonisation.

Collared Doves are quite big birds and have a buff grey colour that makes them quite conspicuous.   Although on first site they may look uninteresting they are really quite attractive with the half collar marking on the back of the neck, a pinkish flush on the chest and really wonderful black eyes with a red ring.  This is a picture of the visitor to my garden so you can see just how close, without a massive telephoto lens,  he will let me get to him (or perhaps her, because actually I can’t tell the difference).

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Other posts about birds:

Blackbirds

Collared Doves

Dunnock

Fat Balls

Mozart’s Starling

Robin

Seagull

Starlings

Starlings in the USA

Vinkensetting

_____________________________________________

A Life in a Year – 2nd October, Fat Balls!

With so many birds stopping by the garden now buying food from the garden centre or the supermarket can start to get a bit expensive so I have been looking for alternatives so here are some tips to prepare your own bird gourmet meal.

I have been experimenting with making my own fat balls and so far I am really quite pleased with the results.

Bottom left in the picture is a beef fat preparation that I made by rendering down the fat from some sirloin steak and then adding to it some seed, fruit and oats.  Unfortunately this wasn’t a completely brilliant success and it started to melt down a bit in the warm October sunshine.  This wasn’t a problem however because the birds finished it off before it could completely drip away.  It was a success mainly with the Starlings who squabbled over it until it was gone.

Bottom right is a similar preparation but this time using pork fat and this seems to be much more successful.  It has an altogether thicker consistency and it seems to bind together so much better.  This time I added the seeds and the fruit but also some broken up bread crusts that seemed to soak up and hold the fat together well.  It looks good enough to eat yourself don’t you think?  A bit like a luxury Belgian Florentine! Again this was a big favourite with the Starlings and the Great Tit showed a great deal of interest as well.

One other little tip is that you might want to keep the kitchen window open while you are preparing the fat mixture!

Top left there is some pork fat that was left over after preparing the fat ball and this is always a big favourite with the birds and top right is the ever popular bacon fat.  Don’t throw it away, just grill it slowly for a while and the blackbirds will love it.  I suppose it looks a bit like a juicy worm!

Don’t throw gone over fruit away either, because the birds will really enjoy chopped up grapes and oranges and as for an old pear, they will go crazy!

There are a number of places to go on the web to find out more about making your own bird food and I recommend this helpful site and page: http://www.cottagesmallholder.com/?p=357  Be careful however when you search on ‘fat balls’ because you might not always find exactly what you were expecting!

_____________________________________________

Other posts about birds:

Blackbirds

Collared Doves

Dunnock

Fat Balls

Mozart’s Starling

Robin

Seagull

Starlings

Starlings in the USA

Vinkensetting

_____________________________________________