Are the wild birds nesting yet?
With the mild weather and everyone thinking about Spring, it begs the question, are the wild garden birds are nesting early this year?
There is such a thing as an official nesting season, this is defined in the wildlife and countryside act of 1981 as 1st March to 31st July inclusive. The reason for this legislation is to protect the wildlife and bird life whilst they are nesting or roosting. Although birds do start prior to and continue beyond these dates it is worth knowing as you will see a lot of hedge cutting and laying during February, but it is illegal for farmers to continue to do this if it disturbs nests, beyond 1st March.
There is quite a lot of evidence to suggest the wild birds in your garden are starting to make their first nest and seek the partner to share it with, although this is not particularly early for some (Blackbirds begin in early February normally) Chaffinch, Great Tit and Nuthatch all start to pair up in February. Many other species are starting to fight for territory now and so you will see them squabbling and tussling with each other. Gathering nesting material, like twigs, moss, wool etc and place it in a likely spot for a nest, but don't worry if they are not occupied, these first attempts at nest-building are usually just for practice or to entice a prospective mate to share a nest.
To answer the question about early nesting season this year, I do not think it is particularly early. It may be a few days or so, but each year is different and although some people think it is Spring already, I prefer to wait another couple of weeks before declaring winter finished. In our garden we have Snowdrops in full flower and Daffodils just starting to show yellow, but it is still possible for a late cold spell and so we do recommend that you continue
with your Winter feeding regime for at least until mid March. The garden birds still need a boost to maintain winter energy levels and the onset of the breeding season means they will be using lots more energy building nests and showing off to each other. We recommend our Spring / Summer mix
for after March, so if you are thinking of ordering more wild bird food in the nest few weeks, you might like to ask for a free sample of our exclusive Spring / Summer mix. It is designed to provide all the garden birds requirements for the summer and includes grit to help promote strong egg shells, particularly important in the second and third brood of eggs. It also contains fruit and suet for nutrition and energy .
In conclusion, it is a lovely surprise to see an early Spring, but be aware of a late cold spell and the effects that may have on your garden wildlife, let nature take its course and enjoy the show! :)