I`m a great believer in the benefits of engaging with nature and its so easy as it is all around us. Bringing birds in closer proximity to ourselves by providing bird feeders on our balconies, in our backyards or gardens is one of the simplest and most affordable methods of being close to nature. Indeed you don`t have to even leave your home, just look out the window! If you live in a communal environment think about having a communal feeder or placing one in your local green area.

Feeding birds in London accelerated into being a common activity at the end of the 19th century when the city experienced a spate of severe winters. It was unfortunately a frequent experience to see birds that had succumbed to the severe cold and the sharing of bread became a regular pastime in London`s parks and on the London Bridges.

Now our winters are much milder and feeding birds is more about our enjoyment and engagement with nature rather than bird survival. Foods for wild birds have become more sophisticated and healthier than crumbs from our stale loaves. Here`s some top tips to get involved with bird feeding:

1. FOOD

Nuts and seeds are the most popular form of food for feeders. Start off with peanuts and /or black sunflower seed avoiding anything that is salted. Fat balls are another form of food particularly favoured by many species and consider using bruised fruit to attract blackbirds and thrushes. Remember avoid bread being the only food source.

2. DON`T FORGET THE WATER

It may sound simple but often we forget to have a supply of water for them. This does not have to be an expensive bird bath, a simple container on the ground / in the borders will suffice or a saucer on the balcony.

3. YOUR PETS

If you own a cat, a little bell round the collar is often sufficient warning for birds that a predator is near. However when chicks become fledglings they are particularly vulnerable. They are not as nimble and fleet footed as their parents, so take extra care if you know that nests are present close to your feeders.

4. HYGIENE

Clean the feeders once a month by soaking in boiling water. Birds can be affected particularly by salmonella and canker from other bird`s faeces.

5. GET A BOOK

Now you are seeing more birds, identify them, get to know more about their habits and how you may attract other species. Watching the birds can be mesmeric, magical and therapeutic; don`t be surprised if you switch off and be transported into another world, good luck!

Take part in the RSPB's Big Garden Birdwatch which is every year at end of January. In 2019 it is 26 - 28 January.

 

Make the most of your Local Park

Discover some of the inspiring things that Londoners are doing to make the most of one of the city's great parks and then check out our other ways to enjoy the National Park City.

 

Make where you live wilder

What if we made where we live wilder? Watch our film of Londoners rewilding London wherever and however they can. What if even more created great little nature reserves for the city's wildlife?

 

Start thinking more naturally at school

Could your school do more outdoor learning? For ideas watch this video featuring children and adults of Christ Church Primary School, Brixton and Natural Thinkers ... and plenty of mud!

 

Enjoy London's Waterways

Go out and enjoy London's waterways. Watch our film and find out about some of the great things that Londoners are doing to make the most of the capital's beautiful waterways.

Use your imagination for Our City London

Are you a student or do you run a course? Might you be able to produce something which tells your own personal story of London as National Park City?

The National Film and Television's, Motion Graphics and Titles students made a set of films to promote their ideas of London as a National Park City.

 

 

Watch more of the student's films over in our Make A Difference section.

If you are a student and interested in creating something for London as a National Park City then let your imagination fly! We'd love to see and hear your ideas. Have fun with the brand, present a different view of London's wildness, green and blue and how anyone can Make A Difference. Share you're ideas with This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. - we'd love to hear them!

Making seed balls is very simple and a great activity enjoyed by young and old.  

Seed Ball Recipe

  • 2 parts soil. Do not use good quality soil, wildflowers have evolved over millennia to adapt and grow best in poor quality soil.
  • 5 parts clay mix, (as London is built on clay it is easy to find!)
  • 1-2 parts water
  • 1-2 parts seeds
  • Large tub to mix ingredients

Directions

  1. Mix the soil, clay and 1 part water thoroughly. There should be no lumps. Slowly add more water until the mixture is the consistency of bread dough
  2. Add seeds. But not too many!
  3. Keep kneading the dough until the seeds are well mixed in.
  4. Add more water if necessary.
  5. Take small bits of the clay mixture and roll into balls about one inch in diameter.
  6. The balls should hold together easily. If they’re crumbly, add more water.

Have a great day!

Also useful

Bowl of water to rinse hands and towel to dry hands with

We always have some vinyl gloves for those who do not want to get their hands dirty.

Tips for Community Seed Ball Making

To source your wildflower seeds the simplest approach is to buy a wildflower mix. To offer more choice and to get the chance to explain the important of  these flowers for pollinators you can buy a variety of seeds and offer them in small bowls for people to choose their mix or single type, a photo of the flower helps for those who do not know flower names. We believe it  is important to only sow native wildflowers and made sure all our supplies were following the Flora Locale & Plantlife’s Code of Practice. They provide a list of suppliers.  

It is important to explain to those making the seed balls that not many seeds are needed, kids tend to way overload and grab a fistful of soil mix making a tennis ball size which is far too big, explain that too many will not grow as they all need space. 

It's a good idea to make a few ahead, to show the finished product and correct size. Often people will try and make their seed balls too large.

We have found it easier to make up a few containers of the soil mix, and have the seeds in a small container to top up when empty. 

We have a table: soil at one end, people take a small bit, roll it in their hands then flatten it, choose and scatter seeds over flattened mix then roll it all together.  

Supply small paper envelopes/bags brown paper which the care instructions can be written, and if you offer a selection of seeds they add the names of the ones they have selected. 

Using your Seed Balls

We generally ask people to plant some in a designated area at the event, and to take some home. 

One project we've seen prepared a low bank and then encouraged people to throw their seed balls at the bank. Other ideas include scattering the seedballs in patterns.

Tell your seed ball makers to just drop the balls in an place where there is no grass to compete and loosen up the surface of the area, a fork works well, if weather is dry sprinkle them with water, keep an eye on them and water every 10 days if no rain happens.

Seed balls are much more successful where the soil has been prepared as if for normal seed sowing or in pots. 

You can read more about different ways to use seed balls on our Wildflowers For Londoners project

Please Respect London’s Existing Natural Communities

#WildflowersForLondoners seed balls are to be used to bring colour, beauty and wildlife to all our streets, balconies, gardens, schools, workplaces and shared spaces that make up London.

They are not to be used in or near where wild plants and flowers are already established. They should not be used within or near a nature reserve, a Royal Park, open countryside, or any protected areas. Derelict-looking "brownfield" sites can host important insects and wildlife which have found sanctuary from development elsewhere. These communities may be unique, and we should leave them alone & celebrate them. If in any doubt, then please find another location.

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