Britain’s gardens are a vast, living landscape and the home to hundreds of species of birds. Learn to pay attention to these visitors to your own garden or local park and you’ll have a front-row seat to the unfolding drama that is the garden bird’s year.
As dawn breaks across your back garden, if you were paying attention, you would notice that the robin and the blackbird are always the first birds to arrive. These ground hunters have large eyes, so don’t mind the dim light of the early morning. And that’s just the beginning of what you can learn watching your own back garden. Ornithologist Mike Toms has spent a year avidly observing his own garden, and the result is a comprehensive picture of the lives of garden birds.
From the crowded yet quiet January garden populated by migratory fieldfares and bramblings, to the riotous gardens of spring, filled with songbirds competing for mates, the garden ecosystem changes throughout the year. Learn to spot these changes, to greet the arrival of the swifts in May and the new crop of fledgling goldfinches and blackbirds in June, and you’ll find a new world opening up to you.
A Garden Bird’s Year is the perfect introduction to this world. Supremely readable, it explains biology and behaviour to paint a picture of the lives of common bird species, while also offering practical information for watching and feeding the birds in your own backyard. Toms details birds’ preferences for particular plants, seeds and feeders, so you can learn to attract different species to your own garden. He also charts fascinating recent adaptations – urban birds sleep later than their rural counterparts, probably because cities are on average a few degrees warmer, and they sing either earlier or later, to avoid competing with local traffic; and the balance of migratory birds to Britain is being affected by the world’s changing climate. Many species of garden birds are threatened, but there is much that each one of us can do to support them, to attract them, and to help them thrive through the year.