Starlings Sturnus vulgaris, gathering above reed bed at Ham Wall RSPB reserve

Fill up those feeders

We all know that families squabble at meal times. And birds are no different.

Demanding starlings

An RSPB member who served up a mid-morning snack for a flock of juvenile starlings was amazed by their vocal demands for seconds.

Emma Hartley was left flummoxed after the feathered freeloaders refused to leave her garden in Maghull, Merseyside after polishing off the food.

“I’d only just got back to the kitchen after topping up the bird table and feeders when the flock of juvenile starlings swooped down to tuck in,” said Emma.

“The food couldn’t have lasted more than a couple of minutes before they’d finished and were squabbling amongst themselves demanding more!”

Fortunately, Emma managed to wing it and find further supplies to pacify the passerines.

“Luckily, I quickly managed to find a bit of dried fruit and some old cheese, which, needless to say, went down a treat!”

Starling, Sturnus vulgaris: adult, garden bird on feeder, England

Starling declines

However, despite the benevolence of people like Emma, starlings are facing a tough time in the UK.

Although they remained the second-most-spotted bird in the 2015 RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch, sightings in gardens have declined by 80 per cent since 1979. Such a drastic decline has led to starlings being red listed, meaning they are of the highest conservation concern. 

Ben Andrew, RSPB Wildlife Advisor, said: “Starlings are very bold and boisterous birds, one that most people will have spotted in their gardens or in an outdoor space. It may therefore come as a surprise to know that starlings have declined quite significantly over the past 30 years. 

 “Leaving out a suitable supply of food and water will not only help starlings and their young prepare for the cold months, but will also help many of our favourite garden birds.”

Birds will appreciate a variety of foodstuffs, particularly anything fatty. For example, fat balls, homemade bird cakes made with lard and packed with seeds, fruit or dried mealworms are great treats to put out in your garden.

Kitchen scraps will also work well, while a recipe for successfully feeding birds may include chopped fat from unsalted meat, cheese, dried fruit and pastry.

The RSPB’s Giving Nature a Home campaign aims to tackle the housing crisis facing the UK’s threatened wildlife. We’re asking people to provide space for flora and fauna in their own gardens and outdoor spaces. You could put up a nestbox for birds, dig a pond to help support a large number of species, or build a humble home for a hedgehog.

How you can help

 RSPB Giving Nature a Home Campaign, 'Frog Face' TV advertisement

Give nature a home on your doorstep. We've got simple, fun activities for all the family.