Becoming an Urban Birder
I’m David Lindo also known as The Urban Birder. I’m a broadcaster, writer, tour leader and public speaker and I have dedicated my life to trying to engage my fellow urbanites in the towns and cities around the UK and beyond to connect to nature through the medium of birds. It doesn’t matter where you live; whether it be in a village, in the suburbs or in the middle of a concrete jungle, birds are all around us. All you have to do is look up!
One of the easiest ways to connect with birds is through feeding them. Even if haven’t got a garden and live in a block of flats you can still attract birds. I was lucky as a kid because I grew up in a semi-detached house in Wembley that sported a large garden. I was born with an innate interest in natural history but with nobody around me that shared that passion. I didn’t even have a mentor, so I had to teach myself. I quickly found that it was all very well learning the names of all the birds, but I needed to actually see some of them. So, my next cunning plan was to attract them to me.
Dressing up as a bird with strips of newspaper for feathers and an emerald conical Christmas party hat worn as a beak patently didn’t work. I could not even attract a pigeon! Then I struck upon the idea of constructing a bird table and hanging nut feeders. The bird table took the shape of an old fruit crate that I suspended from my mum’s apple tree. I had limited success as the food I put out routinely fell through the gaps, plus every gust of wind would send my flimsy construction topsy-turvy. I fared better with my nut dispenser but in those days, I had to save up my pocket money to buy a cheap and rather harsh plastic nut bag from the local newsagents. Despite my abject limitations I succeeded in attracting a host of birds to my garden including, one day, a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker!
Thankfully, there are much more proficient ways of feeding birds now as I discovered in later life when I moved to a house with a tiny concrete patio for a garden. Putting up a free-standing bird table stocked with crumbs chipped from a fat ball, sunflower hearts and on occasion, mealworms soon had the Great and Blue Tits swarming along with the occasional Wood Pigeon materialising out of nowhere. I also placed a small tray on the ground that I stocked with dried mealworms. The ground feeders like the Blackbirds, Robins, Dunnocks and the odd Song Thrush loved these. I proved that even if you have a postage stamp sized concrete garden in the middle of a city birds will eventually find what you put out for them. Water is another vital item to add to the menu. Not only is it important for birds to drink but they also need to bathe in order to keep their feathers in tip-top condition. So, keep the supply flowing.
So, to attract birds to feed in small urban spaces try out space saving seed feeders like the Egersund Seed Feeder or one of the SingingFriend range that are easily attachable to drainpipes or outside posts. Fill the feeder with seed mix and situate it where you can comfortably watch the goings on. Hopefully, before long you will be receiving your first visitors that will more than likely be Blue and Great Tits.
Window feeders are also a nice idea especially if you do not have a garden or live in a low-rise block of flats. I particularly like the Kos Window Feeder and Corfu Window Feeder because they can be easily adhered and are largely transparent. This means that you can watch the birds whilst sitting on the sofa watching a spot of TV!
One thing to remember is that if you are putting out food for the ground loving species, it is not advisable to put food directly onto the ground late in the afternoon because instead of attracting birds – as they may have already gone to roost – you may be inviting other less desirable visitors. An alternative is to use a Ground Feeding Table, perhaps with a guard, a Hanging Table or even a Feeder Tray attached to your tube feeders.
It always amazes me, the number and variety of birds you can attract once they have discovered the food source that you have provided. You will begin to see species that you never knew existed in your neighbourhood like Stock Doves, Nuthatches and Great Spotted Woodpeckers. Remember it’s not about quantity it is all about quality. Invest in the best quality food dispensed from the best types of feeders and you will realise that birds are everywhere no matter where you live.
26 November 2019
For information on our collaboration with David Lindo, click here
CJ's has a whole range of products that are suitable for use in urban gardens, so for ideas and suggestions of what to offer your urban garden birds, click here
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