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The RSPB says mud pies could provide lifeline for birds as nine day heatwave predicted for Kent


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As the Met Office predicts nine days of dry, warm weather across the county, there are fears that birds could suffer as a result.

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) warn that the heatwave could prevent returning migratory birds from building their homes, but putting out a mud pie in your garden could be the solution.

A house martin collects mud to build a nest with. Credit: Tom Marshall, rspb-images.com
A house martin collects mud to build a nest with. Credit: Tom Marshall, rspb-images.com

At this time of year, spring migratory birds such as swallows, house martins and swifts are all returning to the UK, finding mates and attempting to build nests.

Sadly, these birds have seen sharp declines in their numbers over the last two decades – in some cases, by more than 50%.

Affected by changes in climate, loss of nesting sites and reduction in food supplies, swifts and house martins especially have been placed on the red list of conservation concern.

The rising temperature over the next nine days may sound delightful for us, but for the birds it makes building nests and settling increasingly difficult.

This is why the RSPB have compiled a list of things you can do at home to try and protect our feathered friends.

Make a nestbox to help the birds settle back in the UK
Make a nestbox to help the birds settle back in the UK

Firstly you can put up nest boxes or cups to provide a suitable place for these birds to breed and nest.

In the heat, it is recommended that you leave out a muddy puddle - the dry hard ground during a heatwave means less mud is available for house martins to use to build their own mud cup nests.

A simple way to help is to place a dish of soil and water mixed together outside for these birds to make use of while we enjoy the sunshine.

Having plants to attract insects will also provide much-needed food for the birds.

Having an insect-friendly lawn, planters or even balcony box will also help a range of pollinators as it has been found that flying insect levels have dropped by 72%.

Having insect-friendly plants can provide much needed food
Having insect-friendly plants can provide much needed food

Similarly, putting away the pesticide will help protect plants, soil and wildlife – no matter how tempting, spraying your plants with pesticide reduces the available food for migratory birds.

Lots of people don’t realise many birds nest on the ground and so you need to watch your step.

For example, little terns nest on shingle beaches, so putting dogs on leads and being vigilant can help to reduce the risk of disturbing their nests.

Charlotte Ambrose from the RSPB said: “Now is as good a time as ever to help the wildlife near you.

"Whether from your garden, balcony, or local green space, taking a few simple steps to give the nature on your doorstep a helping hand this spring can really give birds such as swifts, swallows and house martins the boost they need as they grace our skies once more.”

Click here for more ways to help nature this spring.

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