Pet Gazette March 2019 - Page 12

12 | PET GAZETTE | WILD BIRDS GOING WILD The interesting displays wildlife will treat us to as we approach springtime S pring is here and whether your customers in the middle of a city or a remote corner of the countryside, they won’t fail to spot nature coming to life. As the warmer days tempt us outside, we all have the opportunity to open our eyes and get closer to nature. Your customers will see many signs of spring – from birdsong and bumblebees to Boxing Hares and bluebells. Ponds come alive at this time of year. Even a small pond can attract frogs, newts and dragonflies, as well as giving wildlife a place to drink and bathe. Frogs emerge from hibernation in March with one thing in mind – mating. The transformation of jelly-like frogspawn into mini froglets is one of nature’s greatest miracles. A great bit of drama unfolding right in front of the eyes. Lots of wildlife will be venturing out into the big wide world, some for the first time. People can help emerging bumblebees and other insects by providing them with nooks and crannies for shelter and safety. Ladybirds that may have sought shelter in a corner of a room or shed in large groups, also start to appear. Ladybirds are popular with most gardeners for their aphid munching diet; they come in a host of colours, sizes and spot formations. Daffodils might be the flower we normally associate with March, but there are plenty more to enjoy in the countryside. The lesser celandine has shiny yellow star-like flowers and can be found in woods, lawns, hedgerows and beside ditches and streams. As well as fresh green growth pushing through the soil, one of the great wildlife sights of the year is when a carpet of bluebells transforms woodlands into a place of magic and wonder. Make sure you don’t miss this amazing spring spectacle. As well as a time of new growth, it’s also mating season for many animals and this results in some bizarre behaviour. Great Crested Grebes perform an elaborate courtship display. First, one bird approaches the other underwater, emerging by its side. Head shaking follows, then the birds mimic in each other by bobbing their heads up and down. An amazing aquatic dance sees them swim together and apart before the pair rise out of the water, bellies touching, offering a gift of weeds in their beaks. If March is famous for just one thing, it’s Brown Hares boxing. These ‘mad March Hares’ are in their mating season, with the males seeking out any females that have come into season. These fisticuffs in the fields are usually the females fighting off unwanted attention, telling a male to back off. Don’t forget to feed your birds. Warmer spring weather often leads www.petgazette.biz to an increase in natural food so many of us feel we can stop feeding our feathered friends. If they have a regular supply of food, they need to devote less energy to foraging, so have more for singing, courtship and best building. March is the start of the nesting season for Britain’s birds. Advise customers to find an RSPB reserve near them and start uncovering the amazing signs of spring, visit www.rspb.org.uk/ reserves. Bird of the month – Great Tit Of the six Tit species that breed in the UK, the Great Tit is the largest. It has similar plumage to a Blue Tit but with a distinctive black head and white cheeks. The chest is bright yellow with a black stripe running down from the throat. Males and females are similar but the stripe in males is wide and sometimes extends down to the legs. Great Tits are extremely vocal and can have around 40 different calls. The most common is ‘teacher, teacher’ which many compare to a squeaky wheelbarrow. These woodland birds can be found throughout the UK, and have quickly adapted to life in our gardens. They feed primarily on insects but will happily take sunflower seeds and others from a bird feeder. In the summer they feed their young protein-rich caterpillars which they prep by removing the guts before feeding to the chicks. Great Tits are some of the earlier nesters and will start to look for sites in February. They can easily be encouraged to nest in gardens by putting up nest boxes. To find out how your customers can give nature a home, visit: www.rspb.org.uk/homes. March 2019