Learn how hot weather affects garden birds

A change in routine

The last couple of days have been hot here in Kent and the birds at the feeders and bird table have moved to a new routine. Normally the larger birds such as the feral pigeons, the collared doves, the jackdaws and crow tend to come early in the morning and have their breakfast and some more come for a top-up of food at lunchtime.

Another group gathering with usually some different ferals will appear about 5 pm again looking for food and of course at this time of year some birds of various sorts are still in the garden beyond 8 pm. They are lucky that they can have top-ups during the day since I retired, as normally they would’ve had a supply of food put out at about 6 am and then another after 6 or 7 pm.

Feral pigeons
It’s quite noticeable with the feral pigeons though that even with the longest hours of daylight, they still go home, as it were, about an hour and a half before it gets dark. On the hottest days, the new routine consists of coming early in the morning and having some food but not in exceptionally high numbers and they do their normal ablutions and drinking and then disappear. A few will stay on the roof or round and about during the day but they must find it too warm and sunny. Then as the temperature starts to drop away they come for their evening meal. Over the last couple of days, this has brought a slight easing up in bird feeder filling. On a hot day, any suet becomes soft and tends to disintegrate when vigorous pecking ensues, but the birds have learnt this and know that they will have more in the way of pickings from beneath the feeder, leaving others to do the hard work.

The crow is still coming into the garden a couple of times a day and usually causes all the other birds to disappear. I’ve seen it on the suet ball feeder but it is generally walking about on the ground to see what is available. The crow doesn’t seem to like the jackdaws at all and sometimes will chase them away and fly around in a circuit, but no harm seems to come to them. The starlings are still coming but now in slightly decreased numbers to the feeders, but plenty are flying around and I would estimate over 40 the other day in a group. It was very interesting the other evening, unfortunately, I didn’t have a camera to hand, when about 20 of them congregated at the top of my large conifer. I was sitting outside and more and more were turning up and one or two adults were flying around as much to say, ‘Where are the others? Come on its time to go home for the night’. That was about 8.30 pm so they still had a good hour of daylight left. I’ll keep an eye out for them again as it would certainly make a great picture. The sparrows this morning have been in the holy tree outside my upstairs window, but I haven’t seen any more youngsters and I’ve also not seen the goldfinches this week.

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I have a wild cherry in the garden and the wood pigeons love to sit up in the tree and eat the small cherries, bobbing down under the branches and having a good feast. I’ve also seen a blackbird giving it a try but the starlings don’t seem to have cottoned on yet. They better be quick though as the wood pigeons are eating them with gusto and with four of them coming along, they won’t last many days. Yesterday evening a sea breeze developed and came inland as far as my garden and things were quite blustery for a while making landing tricky.

Written by Margaret Emerson

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