A little water goes a long way in helping birds during sizzling conditions

Harry Bellew

Friday 26 May 2017

• Thermometers are set to sizzle this bank holiday weekend following on from the driest winter in more than 20 years
• Summer migrant birds returning from Africa such as swifts, swallows and house martins, as well as garden favourites like starlings, robins and blue tits could struggle to find a supply of water in hot conditions.
• Gardeners can help by following RSPB advice of leaving out a fresh supply of water to help birds through the breeding season.

With temperatures set to soar this bank holiday weekend and fears that the UK could face a widespread drought this summer, the RSPB is asking people to help birds through the hot conditions by making water available to them in their gardens or outdoor spaces.

Every year migrant birds such as swifts, swallows and house martins announce the arrival of the British summer as they complete a 6,000 mile migration from central and southern Africa to nest and raise their young. After the UK experienced its driest winter since 1995, these birds will arrive to conditions that will make building their nests from damp sticky mud much more difficult, which could impact on their chicks surviving.

The wildlife charity is appealing to people to put out a supply of fresh, clean water, as well as some wet mud in a shallow container like a dustbin lid, to help these migrant birds survive the arduous conditions.

As well as helping summer visitors to create a home leaving out fresh and clean water is of huge benefit to other garden favourites like starlings, robins and blue tits helping to create a wildlife haven on your doorstep to enjoy throughout the summer.

Claire Thomas, RSPB Wildlife Advisor, said: "With the weather warming up and the evenings becoming lighter, it's the time of the year when our gardens and outdoor spaces can come alive with wildlife. Many of the our favourite garden birds are joined by swifts, swallows and house martins dancing between the rooftops creating one of nature's most wonderful spectacles.

"Unfortunately the hot weather will make extremely tricky for lots of birds to build nests and raise their young. Without the right materials to make their nests, such as damp sticky mud, it could lower the chances of their small chicks surviving the summer months. Even a small supply of water can make all the difference in helping to give nature a home."

Along with swallows, house martins that arrive in the UK from Africa will immediate start creating or rebuilding nests. House martins typically use pellets of mud to build dome shaped nests under the eaves of houses - this can take up to 10 days to create and depends on a suitable mud supply being nearby. While it can take a pair of swallows up to 1,200 journeys to find materials and build their nest, usually found close to large domestic animals like cattle or horses.

Both birds can have two or three broods over the summer before leaving the UK around September time, so a strong nest is extremely important.

Claire Thomas added: "As well as ensuring a good supply of mud for nests, people can help many other garden birds by making sure water is always available during this dry spell, for drinking and to keep their plumage in good condition."

To find out more about how you can help birds and wildlife in your garden or outdoor space, visit www.rspb.org.uk/homes

Last Updated: Tuesday 28 August 2018

Tagged with: Country: England Country: UK Topic: Birds and wildlife Topic: Giving Nature a Home