If you have been watching BBC’s SpringWatch, you will know that it’s a perilous moment when a chick finally leaves the nest.
Survival depends on their ability to evade predators and find a constant supply of food and water. But there are some things we can do to help the fledglings in our garden to survive their first few weeks out of the nest.
Planting a bushy shrub under nest boxes or positioning bird boxes over existing large shrubs means an unsuccessful first outing doesn’t have to end badly, given a shrubby cushion to land on.
Providing feeders of soft, protein packed nuggets which often include added vitamins and minerals will help fledglings thrive. Avoid whole peanuts at all cost, favouring kibbled nuts, so young birds whose beaks are not fully formed can eat easily.
Put a collar on your cat to alert young birds to the potential predator. Alternatively, keeping your cat well fed and indoors at the most active feeding time for wild birds, dawn and dusk, can make a big difference. Placing feeders well away from potential cat “launch pads” or hiding places is also a good idea.
Check and top up your feeders and water twice a day to provide a constant source of nourishment. If a fledgling used to finding the feeder full comes and finds it empty, they may not have left enough reserve energy to find the next source of food. During spells of hot weather, water is also essential for their survival.