One day after school, Dave and Darcy watch a nature program all about garden birds. The presenter explains how some birds can find it hard to get enough food during the winter, especially if it’s really cold and icy.
Because birds live outside, they need to have extra food in the colder months to make sure they keep warm enough and have enough energy.
She also explains that feeding birds in your garden can encourage more species to visit.
Dave and Darcy decide to do an experiment. The next morning, they sit by the back window and watch the birds that come into the garden for half an hour. They write down the different birds they see and how many times they appear.
They spot two robins flying in and out of the garden, as well as a blue tit and a pigeon.
“There aren’t many birds in our garden,” says Darcy. “Do you think we would see more if we put some food out for them?” she asks Dave.
“Well, I would definitely visit a garden lots if someone left food for me!” he replies. “Let’s try!”
They look around the kitchen for ideas. Darcy spots an apple in the fruit bowl that has started to go bad, so she decides to use it to make a feeder.
She cuts it in half and uses a spoon to scoop out the apple core. She then gets a bowl and fills it with bird seed and a spoonful of peanut butter.
She mixes it all together and uses a spoon to stuff the hole in the apple full of the mixture.
Her mum helps her to poke a hole through the top of the apple so she can thread some string through it and hang it on a branch.
While Darcy is making her mixture, Dave has an idea. He decides to treat himself and the birds to a sweet treat.
He starts by snacking on a nice juicy orange, scooping out all the yummy bits in the middle and leaving the peel to use as bowls for the birds.
He then mixes together some bird seed, oats, nuts and raisins, and pours it into the two orange peels.
Darcy’s mum helps him to tie some string around the bowls so he can hang them next to Darcy’s apple feeders.
After they hang them up, Dave and Darcy sit back by the window to see if their new creations attract any more birds into their garden.
In only a few minutes, lots of birds start appearing.
“Look Dave, there’s a blackbird eating from one of your bowls!” cheers Darcy.
“That’s so cool!” he replies. “What’s that bird on your feeder?” he asks.
“I’m not sure. Mum, can you help us figure out what the birds are please?”
Darcy’s mum brings over her big book of garden birds and starts pointing out all the colourful species that are flying around the garden.
“That’s a starling,” she points to one of the trees, “and there’s a goldfinch! Can you see its red head and yellow wing?” She shows them the picture in the book.
“It’s so pretty,” Darcy replies.
“Wow!” shouts Dave. “There’s a woodpecker on my feeder! It must like the peanut butter!”
They spend the next hour watching all the birds flying in and out of the garden. They promise to keep their bird feeders topped up throughout the winter so the birds have enough food to keep them full and warm.
Did you know that birds love using horse hair to help build their nests? When we groom horses and their hair falls onto the floor, we often see birds picking it up to use as building material. They weave it amongst other things such as twigs, leaves, grass and moss to make sure their nests are strong and secure. Horses have shorter hair on their bodies and longer hair in their manes and tails – birds like using both to provide a good structure to their nests. If you have your own pony, try gathering up the hair next time your pony is moulting and put it somewhere safe for birds to collect. They also like dog hair, so try that if you don’t have a pony of your own.
If you liked this story, you’ll love the Dave and Darcy series, which you can purchase here.
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