We are about to take part in the Big Schools Bird Watch and the children are getting very excited! We are making bird feeders and hoping to hang them in a small patch of trees bordering on to the school playground. However, this area is next to a railway line and as the school has suffered form rodent problems in the past, the site manager is concerned about us attracting rats to the feeders. We still want to go ahead but just wondered if anyone had experienced a similar problem. As we are an inner city school, we think the BSB will be a really rewarding experience for the children.Any advice will be very welcome!
Hi Birchy and thank you for taking part in the Big Schools' Birdwatch [BSBW]. I live in London and my garden backs on to a railway line. I have foxes and rats that regularly appear but neither raid my feeders, which are on poles or suspended from tree branches.
As long as you don't put out more food than birds will eat, and avoid sprinkling too much around on the ground, you will be fine. If the feeders aren't emptied quickly over the course of a week, try moving them. They work well near shrubs or hedges, which provide cover for small birds. But you don't want them so close that predators could lurk in the undergrowth within pouncing distance.
I have worked with a number of London Schools on the BSBW, I'm always lifted by the students' reactions during the sessions. Taking time out with a class of kids to just pause and look at wildlife is more rewarding than many would think. The enjoyment and excitement they express at spotting a robin, a sparrow or even a gull, is priceless. Far too often it's the first time they've visited local parks or had someone point out the different types of birds, trees or other wildlife; even feral pigeons are considered novelties by some urban pupils!