Tag Archives: feeding birds

Installing an insect house, and feeding birds live food

This month’s wildlife garden activities have focused on insects: installing a nice new home for some of them to live in, and feeding others to robins.

Installing an insect house

The credit for the first bit needs to go to Dr C, who did all the hard work. I was given a lovely insect house for Christmas. With spring well and truly here, and lots of blossom on the fruit trees, it was about time we installed it.

Our previous insect home (a bit of log with holes drilled into it) has started rotting away. To keep this one in good condition for longer, we decided to install it off the ground, on a post.

Insect house in border
Insect house in border

It looks to me like it’s designed for solitary bees (not all bees live in hives). We’ve put it in the border next to the buddleia, which provides plenty of food for pollinators.

Close-up of insect house
Close-up of insect house

Feeding live food to the birds

The second insect related wildlife garden activity is providing live mealworms for the robins, who must have a nest with chicks nearby.
I have been feeding birds dried mealworms for years (soaked first to rehydrate them). Everything seems to love them. But even with the soaking, I have been a bit concerned they may be a bit dry for chicks whose only moisture comes from their food.

When I first started feeding dried mealworms to the birds I was quite squeamish – I didn’t want to touch them.  But I had to admit they smelt surprisingly tasty. I got used to dried mealworms, but I was a bit concerned that, confronted with squirming, squishy live insects, my squeamishness would return. Luckily that hasn’t been the case.

Live mealworms are best put out in smooth sided containers, so they can’t escape. We put up a clear plastic feeder that attaches to our window with suckers, so we can see the birds feeding. I was concerned that it might take the robins a long time to pluck up the courage to feed from it, but they’re bold birds and soon got the hang of it. They certainly seem to appreciate the mealworms, and we’re getting through the supply quickly. I haven’t spotted any other birds using it yet.

Window bird feeder with mealworms
Window bird feeder with live mealworms

Hopefully providing live food will help to give the baby robins a good chance of surviving.