Weird as it may seem (non-fiction often is), those lively and tuneful; ‘warm-blooded egg-laying vertebrates characterized by feathers and forelimbs modified as wings’ (WordWeb), that we invite into our gardens (by providing them with free fast food and drink), are descended from DINOSAURS. Yes, it’s true! Not all dinosaurs went extinct. 65 million years on and what were once a type of Mesozoic era Dinosauria have left the ground for a life often spent mostly in the sky.
When birds do come to earth; it’s to seasonally raise children, regularly get some rest, and (for most species) forage and hunt all the livelong day. Like many sentient beings, birds stake out their territories in traditional ecological niches. Out there in the countryside and wilds, the miracle (by any other name) that is providence, provides checks and balances to ensure nothing gets too far out of line. Quite a struggle these days, what with the exponential global growth of human industry, and all. But, on the whole, we trust that nature manages a difficult job rather well.
What’s all this got to do with our garden bird cafés?
Well, when we encourage birds onto our turf en masse, the usual dispersal of species in the big outdoors is reversed and this leads, naturally enough, to a hygiene issue. As we all know, in any overcrowding scenario more germs and parasites than usual are to be expected. And thus, appropriate cleanliness precautions need to be taken by garden bird café proprietors. This is especially important during critical periods of the year, such as summer drought and (more imminent as we go to press) the potential for winter food shortages.
The message is clear; we all need to make sure that our bird feeding hardware (and adjacent ground area) is thoroughly cleaned every week or so, and subsequently replenished with fresh contents (food/water) on a regular basis.
Infected birds spread illness to our gardens, other gardens, and wild populations. If you should happen to see any sickly looking guests (puffed up throat feathers, runny eyes, drooling saliva, exhibiting a general appearance of malaise), take ALL food and water offline for a couple of weeks – to avoid reinfection. Sterilise your café equipment inside and out (one part bleach to nine parts hot water – rinse well). Then, be sure to start regular hygiene maintenance when you begin feeding/watering again.
NOTE: During a hard winter, or severe water shortage period, we may decide it’s best, for the greater good, to continue service at our garden bird café where an unwell bird has been spotted. But, do carefully monitor the situation, step-up hygiene precautions, and be prepared to close down for a while if necessary.
It’s not a lot of work to ensure a healthy garden bird café environment for our colourful little (and not so little) dinosaur troubadours. They deserve the best, not the least for the joy they bring. And, by showing them you diligently care about their well-being, they will, I’m sure, tell all their friends and neighbours that you run a five-star service!
TIP: If you want to be more economical in bird food provision costs, whilst ensuring top quality nutrients (rather than questionable low grade by-products), try putting some muesli on the menu. You may find your flighty guests love it (and chirp with extra gusto).
For more info on this and other crucial topics, you’re very welcome to have a peck around my Maiden Bradley site, here. . . http://tinyurl.com/MaidenBradley, or browse: Wikipedia – Maiden Bradley (External Links)