Tag Archive for: birds

A Guide to January's Big Garden Birdwatch – Children Get Ready!

The Big Garden Birdwatch takes one hour, is free, and is an extremely worthwhile activity for children and families to take part in.Parents and children, don’t miss this year’s incredibly important birdwatching activity for the RSPB — and the planet — which occurs from Friday 26th to Sunday 28th January. The Big Garden Birdwatch only takes one hour, is free, and is an extremely worthwhile activity for children and families to take part in. It’s a great way to introduce children to the concept of conservation as well as getting them interested in spending time in and around nature. And, as we’ve reported before, nature is extremely good for children! In today’s post, we explain how easy it is to get your little ones involved and why taking part is a win-win-win for families, birds and nature.

What is the Big Garden Birdwatch?

The Big Garden Birdwatch began in 1979 and happens annually. It is the biggest garden wildlife survey in the world, each year attracting hundreds of thousands of participants up and down the length of the UK. 9.1 million birds were reported in last year’s count.

In essence, people get involved simply by choosing an outdoor patch, and then counting birds that land there during the course of an hour. They then report their findings to the RSPB. We’ll cover a bit more detail on how to go about that later in this article.

Why Does the Big Garden Birdwatch Matter?

The Big Garden Birdwatch is a great way to introduce children to the concept of conservation as well as getting them interested in spending time closer to nature.Monitoring populations of bird species every year allows the RSPB and other conservation organisations to see how the various types of garden birds are faring. Whether or not they’re doing well will be a barometer of the state of nature itself as well as that of the individual bird populations. If the RSPB and other conservation organisations can see a problem, they can then mobilise to try to do something about it. Likewise, if they see a particular bird species doing well, they can learn from that and better understand what measures are helping that particular bird population to thrive.

Nature is also incredibly good for children, helping them cognitively, academically, spiritually, mentally, socially, creatively and physically. Spending time in nature has also been shown to improve test results, lower stress levels and even improve earning potential. Learn more about the amazing benefits of nature to children here or, better still, get them involved in the Big Garden Birdwatch this January!

What Sort of Discoveries Has the Annual Big Garden Birdwatch Uncovered?

Each year, the Big Garden Birdwatch uncovers intriguing and useful data about how bird species in the UK are faring. For example:

  • Song Thrush populations are 80% lower than they were when the survey began in 1979.In 2023, the bird species spotted the most was the House Sparrow, followed by the Blue Tit in second place, Starling in third, Wood Pigeon in fourth and Blackbird in fifth.
  • Despite that, historical data from the count shows that even House Sparrow numbers have significantly declined — by 57% — since the count began in 1979.
  • Song Thrush populations are 80% lower than they were when the survey began.
  • Indeed, during the last 6 decades, data suggests that bird populations in the UK have dropped by over 38 million, a huge and worrying number.

How Families & Children Can Take Part in the Big Garden Birdwatch

There are 4 simple steps required to take part in the Big Garden Birdwatch this January:

  1. Register free, via the RSPB website. By registering you'll get a free guide to taking part and visual reference for identifying different birds.By registering you’ll also get a free guide to taking part in the event, which includes visual reference to the birds to look out for, as well as other perks like a discount on bird food and other bird feeding supplies available from the RSPB’s online shop.
  2. Choose a suitable outdoor patch to monitor during the survey event. It could be your garden, patio, local park, or even a view from a balcony will do.
  3. Between Friday 26 and Sunday 28 January 2024, count how many birds of each species, actually land in your patch during the hour’s monitoring.
  4. Once complete, confirm the biggest number of each bird species that has landed at any one time to the RSPB, along with the location of your patch. Please still confirm your findings even if you saw no birds land at all. Make your submissions online here between 26 January and 18 February 2024.

Children can take part individually or as part of a group. They can also undertake more than one birdwatching hour, and submit more than one set of results, so long as they do so from a different location (‘patch’) in each case. The RSPB guide gives more details about each step, so do ensure you visit the RSPB’s Big Garden Watch web area to get familiar with what’s required and to access your free guide.

Keen to Attract More Birds for Your Count?

A great spotted woodpecker visiting a garden bird feeder.If you’re keen to attract as many birds as possible to your Garden Birdwatch count, the RSPB has you covered. As well as providing useful tips on how to attract birds on their website, they also offer those taking part in the Big Garden Birdwatch a 15% discount on bird food and easy-to-clean bird feeders from their online shop. Delivery is also free to participants. Follow the bold links for more information.*

* (Details are given in good faith and are understood to be correct at the time of going to press. However, 3rd party offers are beyond our control and, as such, may be subject to change without notice).

Little Cedars Day Nursery in Streatham

High-Quality Childcare in Streatham, London, SW16

Little Cedars is a nursery & preschool offering high quality childcare in Streatham, near Tooting, Tooting Bec, Tooting Common, Tooting Broadway, Furzedown, Balham, Norbury and Colliers Wood.Ofsted rate Little Cedars Day Nursery as a Good ProviderWe hope your little ones have fun getting involved in this year’s Big Garden Birdwatch — they’re sure to enjoy the nature-based activity as they take their first step towards becoming little citizen scientists. It’s hugely worthwhile for the birds and ecology and, as we know at Little Cedars Day Nursery, nature is hugely beneficial to children too.

If you are looking for high-quality childcare services in or near Streatham, do consider Little Cedars Day Nursery. Ofsted rates us as a good provider of early years education and childcare and we represent a wonderful start to children’s early years. We bring out the very best in every child and prepare them well to ensure readiness for school when they leave us around the age of five. We support various childcare funding schemes too, making our childcare service even more affordable for eligible families.

To request a place for your child at Little Cedars Day Nursery in Streatham, or to find out more, please get in touch using one of the following options:

Our Streatham nursery and preschool is close to Tooting Common, Tooting, Streatham Hill, Streatham Park, Streatham Common, Furzedown, Tooting Bec, Tooting Broadway, Balham, Norbury and Colliers Wood, so may also suit families in those nearby locations.

Bird Feeders: a Creative ‘Nature’ Activity for Kids

A wonderful way to encourage young children to enjoy and learn from nature is to help them make bird feeders.A wonderful way to encourage young children to enjoy and learn from nature is for parents to help them make bird feeders. There are many ways to approach this creative, fun activity and it’s sure to result in lots of our feathered friends visiting. Birds are delightful creatures that are simply a joy to see and hear. They will also greatly appreciate the extra food, particularly at times of the year when it’s more scarce or when they have little mouths to feed. So, this is an activity that’s a win for everyone! Some birds may even become regulars if the food is topped up. In fact, we’ve given some of our own visiting birds names as they now come every day and even stare through the window at us when food needs topping up! With all this in mind, today, we take a look at some of the simple ways children can make home-made bird feeders to encourage birds to visit. Take a look and see how easy and creative the activity can be.

The Quickest & Most Simple Bird Feeder

The fastest and easiest bird feeder for children/families to make is an apple feeder.The fastest and easiest bird feeder for children/families to make is simply an apple. This can either be hung with string from a tree branch, bush, or similar, or the apple can be ‘spiked’ on the pointy end of a tree branch, a strong twig or something like a bamboo pole embedded in the ground (so long as it’s tall enough to keep birds safe* from predators). Easy! We suggest stripping some of the apple skin off to expose the flesh. Apples are a particular favourite of blackbirds and bluetits, amongst others.

Tip!

Don’t worry if birds do not come right away after you’ve put out your bird feeder. Birds and most wild animals are suspicious of any changes, so it may take a few days before they learn to trust the new feeder.

Monkey Nut Chains

Monkey nuts can be threaded into chains as a bird feeder suspended between branches of a tree.This is also a very easy bird feeder for children/families to make. All you need is some string and some monkey nuts* (peanuts still in their outer husk). A supervising adult will need to make some small holes in one end of each husk and then string can be threaded through to form a kind of chain (like a necklace). Monkey nuts can be threaded on to form the right length and then this can be tied between the branches of a tree, or similar. See our note about safely locating* them, though.

Home-made Seed Cakes

Home-made seed cakes are both easy and fun for children to make.Home-made seed cakes are another type of bird feeder that is both easy and fun for children to make. Basically, they consist of lots of seeds mixed into a ‘cake’ made from either suet* or lard*. The seeds are mixed in when the lard or suet is melted, so parents/adults will need to help with that part as it’s done by heating it in a saucepan. Once melted, the seeds can be added and mixed in. Once cool enough to be safe, the children can take over to make most of the feeders. First, a piece of string can be tied from the centre of the base of something like a flower pot or yoghurt pot (parents should make the hole, if needed). Then the child can mould the seed cake into the pots, or other similar plastic containers. Once cooled, the seed cakes will harden and can then be suspended from the branches of a tree, bush, fence post or under the eaves of a house or outbuilding. Bluetits, great tits, starlings and robins will usually be the first to try out the new cakes.

A Word About Seeds & Cheese

Your choice of seeds directly affects the success – or otherwise – of your bird feeders.Your choice of seeds directly affects the success – or otherwise – of your bird feeders. While many commercially-available seed mixtures contain several different types of seed, we have found that birds ignore some of them, so they go to waste. Our own bird feeders have been far more popular when they use more sunflower ‘hearts’ (the sunflowers without the other case) and less of the wheat and barley type seeds. Crushed peanuts* are also popular, but see our notes below about the safety of both baby birds and children when it comes to nuts.

TIP: birds like robins, starlings, wrens, dunnocks and blackbirds also adore grated (mild) Cheddar cheese, but ensure you only put out a little at a time. Don’t give them too much because, although they love it, it should only be given as an occasional treat, not a main meal. It’s also important never to let it go mouldy; mould can kill birds, which is also a reason never to give them blue or veined cheese.

Pine Cone Bird Feeders

Another type of bird feeder that is both fun and easy to make is a pine cone feeder.All you need is a big pine cone, ideally with the cone splines open, a birdseed mixture and either peanut butter*, suet* or lard*.Another type of bird feeder that is both fun and easy to make is a pine cone feeder. All you need is a big pine cone, ideally with the cone splines open, a birdseed mixture and either peanut butter*, suet* or lard*. All your child needs to do is paste the peanut butter (or suet or lard that’s been safely warmed to soften it) all over the pine cone, including into the open splines. Then the whole thing can be rolled over your seed mixture, so the seeds stick all over the pine cone. Once complete, the pine cone feeder can be hung with a piece of string in an appropriate place outside. Even better: hang several together so the birds can’t miss them. The birds will love pecking them when they’re hungry.

Carton Bird Feeders

Bird feeders made from recycled cartons can be great fun, fairly easy and can be quite creative.Bird feeders made from recycled cartons can be great fun, fairly easy and can be quite creative. All you need is an empty milk or juice carton, by which we mean the card ‘Tetra Pak’ type, plus some bird seed/food and some string. Parents will need to help younger children safely attach the string to the tops of the cartons and cut flaps/openings into the sides of the carton. These can be folded down, as shown in the photo, and suspended outside somewhere suitable for the birds. For extra creative fun, children can first paint patterns, designs or even faces on the cartons. This type of bird feeder is great because it not only holds the bird food but also potentially gives birds somewhere safe to land while feeding. As they were originally for holding liquid, they can alternatively be used to hold drinking water for birds — or perhaps children can make one for food and another for drinking water.

Plastic Bottle Bird Feeders

Clear plastic bottles can be used as bird feeders or for water.Children can get creative with how they use plastic bottles to feed birds.In a similar way, clear plastic bottles can be used as bird feeders or for water. The same approach can be used but flaps are not advised as they’re trickier for children to fold and also plastic bottles will have sharper edges than the carton approach above. So, this particular type of bird feeder needs extra supervision from a parent or adult. Take a look at the photos to see what’s possible, though. One photo (the first small image at the start of this article) even shows a plastic spoon that’s used as a landing platform and seed dispenser, all in one. Once finished, plastic bottle feeders tend to last a long time, so long as they’re regularly cleaned and refilled.

*Bird Safety & Well-being

Peanut butter, if used, should be free of salt, sugar and flavouring. During breeding season (Mar-Aug) it should be smooth, so it’s safe for baby birds.Peanuts and monkey nuts, if used, should be unroasted and clear of any fungus (break open the outer husk/check the nut surface). Do not touch or use if present.Suet, if used, should be beef suet i.e. from cows. It should be hard and crumbly, not soft and squeezable. Other suets may not be safe for birds.
Lard, if used, should be pure lard. It should remain hard even in warmer weather and should not be squeezable. It is unsafe for birds if it melts in the sun.Locating your bird feeder is important. To keep birds safe from predators, site at least 1.5m above ground and under the overhang of trees/bushes or eaves.Change bird drinking water and clean bird feeders regularly to avoid spreading disease or bacteria amongst the birds. See RSPB guidelines, available here.

**Child Hygiene & Safety

  • Supervise Children

    Children should be supervised by a responsible adult to keep them safe from harm e.g. from sharp tools like scissors and knives and choking hazards like nuts and string.

  • Encourage Good Hygiene

    Encourage children to maintain good hygiene. They should wash hands with soap and water after touching bird feeders, suet, lard, seeds etc. and/or wear rubber gloves.

  • Be Allergy Aware

    Ensure your child is not allergic to any of the bird food before coming into contact with it, e.g. peanuts, seeds, etc.

This article was brought to you by Little Cedars Nursery, Streatham. We hope that it was useful and that you and your little one(s) enjoy the suggested activities.

Little Cedars: a First Class Nursery & Preschool in Streatham

Little Cedars is a great choice for families looking for high-quality childcare in Streatham or near Furzedown, Tooting, Balham, Norbury or Colliers Wood

Little Cedars is a nursery & preschool offering high quality childcare in Streatham, near Tooting, Tooting Bec, Tooting Common, Tooting Broadway, Furzedown, Balham, Norbury and Colliers Wood.Ofsted rate Little Cedars Day Nursery as a Good ProviderAre you searching for the best nursery or preschool for your child in Streatham? Let us show you and your little one around and we’re sure you’ll soon see how well they would fit in. We offer children under five the very best start in life in a well-equipped, expertly staffed, home-from-home environment.

Apply for a nursery place, book a tour or get answers to any questions by selecting an option below:

Little Cedars may also be conveniently located if you are looking for nurseries/preschools near Streatham Hill, Streatham Park, Streatham Common, Furzedown, Tooting, Tooting Bec, Tooting Broadway, Tooting Common, Balham, Norbury or Colliers Wood.

Free Bird-Spotting Activity Poster for Children

The high resolution bird images show great detail if you zoom in.Spring arrives in the UK on 20th March, according to the meteorological calendar. As well as plants beginning to shoot, daffodils flowering and trees starting to bud, an increased number of wild birds can now be seen too. While a few overwintered here in England, many will have spent winter abroad, where it’s warmer, and only begin to return to the UK once spring begins. So, come springtime, more and more varieties of birds can be spotted — and that’s what today’s post is all about. To encourage children to appreciate, enjoy and learn from nature, we have put together a bird identifier poster that children and parents can download for free, print out to A3 or A4, or view on screen in beautiful high resolution. It highlights 37 species of bird that are popular in England, which children can try to spot as the days and weeks go by. Children can perhaps tick off each type of bird that they spot. With a little help from parents for the youngest children, this activity is a great way to teach them the different bird names and help them to recognise the different types as time goes by. It’s also a great children’s pastime that will encourage them to really appreciate nature. The A3 poster is free to download and share — simply click the preview image below to save or view it in Acrobat PDF format. Enlarge on screen for extra detail or simply print out as large as you can. Children will love this activity and feel a real sense of achievement as they learn more about these wonderful, feathered visitors.

Free A3 Bird Identifier Poster Download:

British Birds Identifier — Free A3 reference poster of the most popular birds — for Children.

Nature is So Good for Children

One of life’s great pleasures is the natural world and nature is something that’s beneficial to children in many profound ways (click the bold link to learn more). Children, including those under five, should be encouraged to spend time around nature, outdoors in the fresh air, whether that’s in the countryside, a park or in a garden (all under adult supervision, of course). Our bird-spotting poster is a great way to encourage them to get outside and take a close look at their natural surroundings. And, of course, putting out home-made bird feeders somewhere suitable will help. We’ll cover that topic in a future post as it’s also great fun for little ones.

37 Types of Bird are Featured

We’ve selected our favourite birds from hundreds of species that visit the UK. This is a Long-tailed Tit.We’ve selected our favourite birds from the hundreds of species that visit the UK each year. There was no way to fit in all of them, so we’ve picked out the most common visitors to our own gardens and nearby parks. In addition, we also added a few extra birds that would be great for children to keep a lookout for, despite a few being shy. Owls are around, for instance, coming out mostly at night. However, barn owls can be seen before dark if you know where to look (the sound of owls hooting or screeching is a dead giveaway). Buzzards, Red Kites and Sparrowhawks are more likely to be seen in the sky overhead, so we’ve shown images where their distinctive silhouettes can give their species away to the onlooker.

We have not yet included waterfowl, ducks, geese, herons, gulls and suchlike in this first bird collection, but may follow up with a second poster if this one proves popular. Let us know what you think!

More Ways for Children to Identify Birds

With a little bit of help from an adult, there are additional, fun ways for children to identify birds in the UK too, all courtesy of the wonderful R.S.P.B. Take a look at some of their bird identification tools available online:

Looking for Good Nurseries or Preschools in Streatham?

Little Cedars is a wonderful nursery & preschool in Streatham, offering high-quality childcare services near Furzedown, Tooting, Balham, Norbury & Colliers Wood

Little Cedars is a nursery & preschool offering high quality childcare in Streatham, near Tooting, Tooting Bec, Tooting Common, Tooting Broadway, Furzedown, Balham, Norbury and Colliers Wood.Ofsted rate Little Cedars Day Nursery as a Good ProviderAre you looking for the best nursery or preschool in Streatham? We’d love to show you and your child around Little Cedars Nursery if so. We provide high-quality weekday childcare and a rich early years education for babies and under-fives. Our nursery/preschool is also convenient if your family is near Streatham Hill, Streatham Park, Streatham Common, Furzedown, Tooting, Tooting Bec, Tooting Broadway, Tooting Common, Balham, Norbury or Colliers Wood.

To apply for a nursery place, book a guided tour or ask a question, please get in touch using an option below: