Encouraging wildlife.

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Robson Valley

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Nov 24, 2014
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McBride, BC
Reptiles need extra heat from the environment for digestion processes.
Lots of prey and warm places for digestion is hard to beat. (I feel the same, most days.)

Go ahead with the wild flower seed. You do a service to your environment.
Bees have been declared the most important animals on the planet (United Nations FAO??).
Not too hard to figure out.
I depend upon wild bees to pollinate my grapes. The domesticated honey bee is a lazy fraud.
What I must research this winter are flower species for mid and late summer for the benefit of the bees.
Then I have to train the gardener not to pull them as weeds! He gets a little too enthusiastic sometimes.
 
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MikeeMiracle

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Good idea this, think I became aware of making your garden nature friendly while watching Spring watch last year. One of the suggestions for those in towns/cities with gardens backing onto each other was simply to make a small 10cm hole in your fence to allow hedgehogs free access to the other gardens.
 
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Nomad64

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Just out of range
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Nomad64

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...The Ravens have quit talking for the year, 2019. Nobody will say a word until the end of February (day length?)...
We had been hearing a weird warbling call; somewhere between a curlew, cuckoo and wood pigeon but could never see what was making it. Mrs Nomad posted a recording of it on a twitching forum and answers ranged from a black grouse (rare but present here but unlikely), frogs and woodpeckers pecking metal telegraph poles (neither at all likely) and the official county bird recorder was sufficiently interested to pay us a visit but failed to come to a definitive conclusion - his best guess turned out to be correct.

I’m sure you are well ahead of me on this but although we regularly see large black birds (which I had assumed were rooks until I saw one flying next to a buzzard - they were a similar size!), we had never seen them at the same time as the call. A few weeks ago we finally got a clear view of the ravens making the call.

Ravens are famed for their intelligence and ability to mimic and only assume that they had heard a phone, vehicle reversing alarm or something similar noise and decided to add it to their repertoire. :)
 

Robson Valley

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I think the Ravens are the biggest of the Corvidae. Probably the smartest, too.
The First Nations have known that for millenia. Thus the birds have a prominent
place in the legendary beliefs here.They all say words that no other Raven speaks.
FN elders told me that they are saying their names. Everybody says the word when a Raven dies.

Your Rooks are half-way between Ravens and crows for size here.
I read stories about how smart they are as well. No surprise to me.

If you whistle to call in your horses here, the Ravens will do it just to pull on your chain.
Damn birds can call your dogs, too.

I try to visit with the Ravens in the winters. I have 50-60' tall spruce trees in my front yard.
Many kinds of birds roost and/or forage in my trees. I sit on the front door stem and call to them and talk.
They certainly listen or they are being very patient, expecting the usual dog food.
They can't forage in more than maybe 6-8" snow so a little shovelling and some dog food seems a good thing to do.
I measured 44" after one night's snowfall. Hard on everybody.
 
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Nomad64

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I think the Ravens are the biggest of the Corvidae. Probably the smartest, too.
The First Nations have known that for millenia. Thus the birds have a prominent
place in the legendary beliefs here.They all say words that no other Raven speaks.
FN elders told me that they are saying their names. Everybody says the word when a Raven dies.

Your Rooks are half-way between Ravens and crows for size here.
I read stories about how smart they are as well. No surprise to me.

If you whistle to call in your horses here, the Ravens will do it just to pull on your chain.
Damn birds can call your dogs, too.

I try to visit with the Ravens in the winters. I have 50-60' tall spruce trees in my front yard.
Many kinds of birds roost and/or forage in my trees. I sit on the front door stem and call to them and talk.
They certainly listen or they are being very patient, expecting the usual dog food.
They can't forage in more than maybe 6-8" snow so a little shovelling and some dog food seems a good thing to do.
I measured 44" after one night's snowfall. Hard on everybody.
Bird ID is not my forte but we seem to have a pretty full range of corvids from jays, jackdaws through magpies, crows up to rooks and the ravens.

It is sheep country here and there is a fair bit of persecution of the larger corvids due to fears of predation on lambs or sick sheep so they are wary of human contact.

Ravens in the Tower of London have a place in English folklore though it is probably less deeply rooted than the FN beliefs.

https://www.britishbirdlovers.co.uk/articles/the-ravens-in-the-tower-of-london
 

Broch

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Jan 18, 2009
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Mid Wales
Great thread Toddy!

Just to put a balance on the discussion: there is a growing concern about 'speciesist' attitudes to encouraging wildlife. Even some of the official support groups (such as the Sylva Foundation) are finally saying 'think twice before putting nest boxes up'. The same problem exists with bird feeding. Typically one is favouring specific species (or several in the case of feeding) giving them an unfair competitive edge over other species.

I only feed birds during the 'frost' months and then I try hard to put a wide variety of food out but have to admit I am probably guilty of favouring the usual species. I stopped feeding throughout the year when a study showed the increase in disease transmission around feeders during the warmer humid months (we've had no Greenfinches here at all for several years for example). Companies and organisations like the RSPB of course make a lot of money out of selling bird feed and bird boxes :)

As far as flowers/plants go I have a 'no introductions' policy in the field and wood (the garden has many ornamentals and non-native species). The lack of any wild garlic in the wood stretches my resolve but I'm sticking to it :)

So, what do I do to create a wide biodiversity? - just one thing really: encourage as wide range of habitats that are natural to the area as possible including short grass, long grass cut twice a year, wild scrubland, water, managed woodland edges and older/wilder woodland. When the habitat is there nature does the rest!
 
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Broch

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We had been hearing a weird warbling call; somewhere between a curlew, cuckoo and wood pigeon but could never see what was making it. Mrs Nomad posted a recording of it on a twitching forum and answers ranged from a black grouse (rare but present here but unlikely), frogs and woodpeckers pecking metal telegraph poles (neither at all likely) and the official county bird recorder was sufficiently interested to pay us a visit but failed to come to a definitive conclusion - his best guess turned out to be correct.

I’m sure you are well ahead of me on this but although we regularly see large black birds (which I had assumed were rooks until I saw one flying next to a buzzard - they were a similar size!), we had never seen them at the same time as the call. A few weeks ago we finally got a clear view of the ravens making the call.

Ravens are famed for their intelligence and ability to mimic and only assume that they had heard a phone, vehicle reversing alarm or something similar noise and decided to add it to their repertoire. :)
I have sat and watched our local Ravens for hours and the breadth of their vocabulary is astounding. Even when I think I've heard it all they'll utter some new phrase.
 

Toddy

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Where I live now was a field when I was a child, a wet muddy field with huge willows in it. Some of the willows are still here, but so is an amazing variety of other trees. There was an old mineral railway that ran along what is now the nature walk, the trees got a start as the hedge that ran along side that, at the edge of the field.
Now this is suburbia, a very leafy green and vibrantly alive suburbia, but still.

So, any little pocket of wilderness is precious and to be encouraged. The bird species range from herons (from down Strathclyde Loch's soggy side reserves, to Buzzards and Sparrowhawks. The little ones range from wrens to reed buntings with every kind of tit, corvid, blackbird and pigeon frequenting our gardens.
I have woodpeckers and even a moorhen (last January, hiding behind the rushes beside the wee pond, comically keeking round them to see if I was looking at it ) visiting my garden too.
Foxes, badgers, deer, squirrels, rarely these days hedgehogs, occasionally a weasel, mice and voles are fairly common going by how many I see the black and white tom cat from across the street carrying away, owls and bats, huge assortment of moths and butterflies, a wide range of insects......and this is suburbia, where every garden has a bird feeder of some kind.

I think we try to feed the birds as a kind of recompense for all the habitats that we've covered in houses and tarmac.
I don't think it's a bad thing :)

M
 
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Nomad64

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I haven't seen a hedgehog in years, not even flattened on the road. Our garden is very hedgehog friendly place but how can I get them to visit?

not sure if I need advice from a naturalist or an estate agent.
Build it (a hibernation box - plenty of plans on the web) and they will come plus some of the rescue centres offer hedgehogs on a fostering basis.

http://www.hedgehog-rescue.org.uk/fostering.php
 
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Toddy

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A long while ago, before the Council changed it's planning, I posted a thread about my wander along the burn path.....I'll copy and paste some of the photos, but pretty much everything over the burn path has been obliterated and is now under three blocks of flats and their carparks :(
Where the path ends used to have enormous open fields of wild grasses and scrub trees, in the last two years those fields have been fenced off and turned into factories :(

So, I do feed and I do encourage the wildlife that remains.
I hate this relentless build up everywhere around us, but when even the Council ignores it's own guidelines so that more housing can be built in 'good' areas, there's not a lot one can do but complain...and believe me, I did. Fat lot of use it did though :sigh: Apparently the rates are of great appeal to the council.

https://bushcraftuk.com/community/index.php?threads/a-wander-down-the-burn-path.57397/
is the link to the old thread, I'll try copying some of the photos, but with my recent luck with photos on the forum, I'm not promising it'll work.

M

This is the area that's now dead. Completely sterile under buildings and tarmac.





 
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Woody girl

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That's a shame. Blooming councils! If you had owned the land and wanted to build yourself a small house they would have said no. But the lure of lotsa money from the businesses and house rates of dozens of houses is a different matter. Suddenly it's a big fat wad of notes yes! Criminal in my opinion!
 
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Janne

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Feb 10, 2016
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Population is increasing and need to live somewhere. The alternative to building more/new houses is for existing buildings to be subdivided into smaller units.

It works, they did it in Soviet Union and several other Eastern Bloc countries. One family per room, shared bathroom and kitchen. Three of four generations in one former one family villa.
Once they got rid of that kind of politicians, they started building both single family and multi family houses.
 

Paul_B

Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
Jul 14, 2008
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Ravens are majestic fliers too. Upside down gliding while clawing at a paragliders wing was fun to see. Glad I wasn't the glider pilot though. Those claws are sharp.

There's a TV programme that comes on over here with change in seasons called spring autumn etc watch. They often bring on a film animal trainer on with his starling, raven or rook. One learnt how to pull up on a string with a weight on the end. This then unblocked a hole in a feeder at the bottom. You had to pull it all the way up or it drops down and closed the hole.

The bird doing it managed it in seconds. Mechanism was straight pull on string with beak then hold with claw. Another mechanism iirc was turn the perch dowels to wind string up.

Iirc the starling was actually the brightest. But the corvids more dexterous if that's the right word.

I once caught a blackbird making an old style telephone ring noise. Telephones stopped making that when I was a kid so the only way it would have learnt it was by hearing it on a mobile phone ringtone.

Off topic but where I grew up there was a hotspot in blackbird albinism. When very young i saw a complete whitebird. Later on they became various levels if black and white colouring. The local cats wiped them out before we left. I doubt there was anything to be done to help them.

My parents were big into coconut fat balls for winter feed. It's a good thing to do imho.
 

Janne

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I to have read about the (negative) impact garden feeding does by favouring certain birds, but what can we do?

I rather have an imbalance between the bird species than no birds at all...

We do the same here, feeding birds with seeds and dry cat food pellets.
 

Robson Valley

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Nov 24, 2014
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McBride, BC
Seems quite a diversity of niche requirements for the different bird species which over winter here.
Leaving the little birds to fend for themselves, I help the Ravens when:
1. There is a deep fresh snowfall of 6" or more. They can't dig up road kill like our 4-footed critters.
2. Extreme cold, which to me has always been -20C. This winter that might revise upwards to -10C.

Under these circumstances, the Ravens congregate as groups in the village. I have maybe 12(?) near my house.
I like to think that feeding them reduces their interest to kill and eat the little birds. Which they will do.

You never have to search very far to find many different examples
of the appearance of Raven in the legendary beliefs of our western First Nations.
"Running Raven" adorns my morning coffee cup today!
 

Janne

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Feb 10, 2016
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Ravens are beautiful.

Integral part of Norse mythology, no doubt that contributed to the London Tower Raven obsession?

Here, we have Ching-chings ( Greater Antillean Grackle or something like that).
Mini Ravens. Highly intelligent, fun to get a little bit tame!
 

Woody girl

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I have both a butterfly hibernation box and a bee box. The first year I had 90% occupation of the bees box with what I think we're leafcutter bees. They stopped up the ends of the bamboo "rooms" with wild rose leaves which I have read somewhere are their favourite. Last year there was no take up and this year there has been none either.
The butterfly box has never been used in four years of hanging in the garden with shelter under the budlia tree.
I planted extra bee and butterfly attracting flowers among my veg in front of the budlia but as I mentioned in another thread there was a complete dirth of butterflies and bees this year. I think I'd noticed a few whites and a couple of tortoise shells late August time. It's a worry to me considering I'm on the edge of moorland.
I have purchased some more specialised wildflower seed mix for my area and also have some cornfield flower seeds to plant up next spring.
I used to have a part albino blackbird visit many years ago and for several years I had his offspring visit too. All had white patches. Each generation had less white on them untill now there are only pure black ones. I can no longer tell if the birds that visit are descendants of the part albino one.
 
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slowworm

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May 8, 2008
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Encouraging wildlife doesn't need to mean that you turn your front garden into some out of place looking suburban jungle, or that you can't discourage pest species, like rats, while giving a helping hand to hedgehogs.
Well.... not a suburban jungle but or front garden is fairly wild, along with an acre either side of very rough pasture.

The fields are too small for any local farmers to cut so we initially left them for a couple of years. They've become very good habitat for all sorts of things and especially good for raptors such as owls. Just the other evening we had two young tawny owls a hootin' and flyin' in the front garden.

The fields are gradually filling with wild flowers which are good for our bees and mean there's plenty of seed heads for the birds. I also don't really like feeding the birds for the reasons given and try to increase natural food supplies. I also don't cut the hedges on the inside of our fields and they're full of nesting birds in the spring.

I know some of the local farmers think our ground is scruffy and needs a good flail but I'd rather have the wild life.