Long-tailed tit Aegithalos caudatus, collecting insects from hawthorn bush in Durham

Looking for food chains

Food chains are everywhere. But you don’t have to ferret through a forest or plunge into a pond to see one in action. Just look out around your home or school to find out who’s eating what.

Where to look

Garden grub

Watching the birds in your garden is a good way to start. Watch carefully to see who eats what. Greenfinches and sparrows prefer seeds, while robins and dunnocks go mostly for insects. Blackbirds pull up worms from your lawn, but they’ll also happily feed on any apples you leave out during winter. 

School snacks

See who’s grabbing a bite around your school. In summer, you can watch black-headed gulls wheeling around to catch flying ants. In winter, you may see them paddling their feet on the muddy field, stirring up juicy worms. And keep an eye on crows. How many different things can you see them eating? 

Prowling the streets

Don’t look now, but there’s a predator near you! Maybe it’s a sparrowhawk stalking your neighbourhood (keep a lookout – they often hunt in gardens as well as woodland). If not, then it could be a toad or hedgehog looking for worms and slugs. And if you hear the midnight crash of a dustbin, it could be our largest predator – the red fox. Foxes are city survival experts. After all, why chase rabbits when you can dig out old bones from a bin?  

Greenfinch eating peanuts from a feeder.

Make your web

Try writing down all the different animals that live near you. Anything will do – from ladybirds to squirrels. Use a big piece of paper, then see how many you can link together by what they eat. You will soon build up a food web. Each time you add a new animal, try to link it to the web. You could make one web for your school and one for your home.

A simple oak woodland food web