They may look calm on the outside but this time of year can be really stressful for your garden birds.
There’s very little natural food about in terms of seeds and berries, and often temperatures can be really variable with bitterly cold nights… All this when they are busy laying eggs, and trying to protect and feed their new broods. To top it all in Spring and Summer those pesky humans often radically reduce the amount of food they put out!
Many songbirds can lay an egg a day, then they sit on their eggs for 12 – 14 days, and 14 days later the baby birds are ready to leave the nest! As the birds’ equivalent of the maternity ward gets into full swing with more and more mouths to feed, - what’s really needed is plenty of protein-rich food.
The best food at this time of year is live insects. Fledglings have no way to drink and so their parents deliver insects which are made up of fat, protein and most importantly – water. If your garden has plenty of plants which encourage insects by default, - then you are seriously helping the survival rates of your bird population. If not, feed live mealworms or waxworms and you will be providing the ready-meal equivalent.
It’s common in late Spring to find young birds sitting on the ground or hopping around without any sign of their parents. This is perfectly normal – the chicks often spend a day or two on the ground before they’re able to fly, and the parents are probably keeping a watchful eye around the corner, or collecting food, so unless there is immediate danger best to leave well alone. Mother Nature really does usually know best.