Did you know that garden birds should be fed all year round? Did you know that birds eat four times as much in spring and summer than they do in winter? Did you know that only about 50% of all eggs and young in the nest survive? Did you know that the birds’ energy needs are greatest in April through July during the breeding season? Did you know that a bird’s normal daily food intake is equal to 30% of its body weight? Did you know that small garden birds have a body temperature of 44° C? Did you know that you must provide a varied food diet in order to attract different species of bird to your garden? Did you know that garden birds prefer gardens that are not too well-kept? Did you know that you can make your garden more bird-friendly by planting fruit trees and berry-bearing bushes? And, of course, evergreen plants to provide shelter for the birds. Did you know that you can make your garden more bird-friendly by planting fruit trees and berry-bearing bushes at different heights? Did you know that it is a good idea to leave a few fallen apples on the ground for blackbirds and thrushes? Did you know that you should place nesting boxes where there is shade to avoid overheating in summer? Did you know that you should plan to have one nesting box per 200 square metres of garden? Did you know that you should clean the nesting boxes once the breeding season is over? Did you know that many birds also use the nesting boxes in winter? It is therefore a good idea to line them with insulating material so the birds can stay warm. Did you know that you should wear gloves when cleaning the bird table, bird feeders and nesting boxes and that you should wash your hands thoroughly after you have finished? Did you know that starlings are very sociable birds and prefer to live in ‘high-rise’ buildings? It is a good idea to erect several nest boxes above one another, in a large tree or on a tall post, for example. Did you know that you should clean bird tables and bird feeders at regular intervals? Did you know that garden birds must have access to water to meet their bathing and drinking needs? Did you know that access to a fresh water supply in the garden increases the number of birds by as much as 50%? Did you know that you must not disturb birds in nesting boxes during the period from February to August? Did you know that you can reduce your chemical pesticide consumption by having birds in the garden? Did you know that a pair of tits can eat approx. 35 kg of insects in a year? Did you know that birds are hungriest in the morning? Did you know that birds need an unhindered view from the feeding station so they can spot potential enemies in good time? Did you know that the birds prefer gardens with trees and bushes that offer protection and a place to build nests? Did you know that the ideal feeding station consists of a feeding table and a range of different bird feeders? Did you know that different species of garden birds have different food favourites? Did you know that different garden birds have different ways of eating their food? Did you know that it can take about 14 days for birds to realise you have established a garden feeding station? Did you know that birds benefit your garden by eating large quantities of harmful insects and vermin and that in the breeding season a tit family can eat about 5,000 insects and other vermin? Did you know that starlings eat daddy-longlegs and garden chafers that would otherwise ruin your lawn? Did you know that the size of the opening determines which birds can move into the nesting box? Did you know that you should only put out as much food as will be consumed in one or two days? Did you know that bird tables and feeders should be placed at a height where dogs, cats and other unwelcome guests cannot reach the bird food? Did you know that tits prefer to hang upside down when eating fat balls or from seed feeders? Did you know that sparrows prefer to eat from bird tables? Did you know that blackbirds, chaffinches and yellow buntings prefer to eat on the ground? Did you know that garden birds need very different nutrients and that you should therefore feed them different kinds of foods depending on the time of year? Did you know that garden birds love to take dust baths in summer? Did you know that it is a good idea not to prune hedges and other garden vegetation until the breeding season is over, i.e. you can start pruning from the beginning of August? Did you know that migratory birds are birds that migrate to warmer climates in winter and return in spring? Did you know that non-migratory birds are birds that remain in the country the whole year round? Did you know that climate change has caused several species of bird to postpone their migration and leave a month later than before? Did you know that man-made phenomena have led to a fall in suitable natural bird habitats? Did you know that garden birds are equipped with an instinct that tells them what nutrients they need? Did you know that birds reduce their activity to an absolute minimum in winter and instead use their energy to stay warm? Did you know that there are four times as many birds in summer than in winter? Did you know that birds eat most food in June and July? Did you know that you can start feeding garden birds at any time of the year? Did you know that about 435 different bird species are found in Denmark? Did you know that garden bird food should be stored in a cool dry place? Incorrect storage can cause the food to become too dry. Did you know that very often it is the same bird that occupies the nesting boxes year after year? Did you know that nesting boxes for tits should be placed approx. 15 metres from one another? Did you know that by feeding the birds you are turning your garden into an efficient ecosystem: The insects in the garden pollinate the flowers, the birds eat the insects and seed/fruit from the plants… Did you know that Denmark’s smallest bird is the goldcrest, which weighs about 5 grams? Did you know that the blackbird builds its nest from dried grass, withered leaves, twigs and soil? Did you know that the bullfinch male is one of the most colourful birds in Denmark? Did you know that that the blue tit and the great tit are in the same family? Did you know that you should move your bird table and feeders at regular intervals to avoid build-up of old seed and bird droppings? Did you know that you should remove old, wet food from the feeding station? Did you know that the birds’ are most active in spring and summer when they have to build nests and search for food for their hungry young? Did you know that migratory birds also come to Denmark in the winter? They fly here from northern regions of Scandinavia. The waxwing is one such bird. Did you know that the birds change their plumage at the end of August? Did you know that the tree sparrow is the commonest bird in Denmark? Did you know that the great tit is the commonest bird in Danish gardens? Did you know that a blue tit weighs approx. 11g? Did you know that blue tits raise two broods of 10-13 young in the breeding season? Did you know that humans have altered nature to such an extent that today birds are hard pressed to feed themselves? Did you know that there are about 1.6 million gardens in Denmark? Did you know that wrens use their nests as beds when they have no young? Did you know that climate change has resulted in a depletion of birds’ natural food sources? Did you know that you should avoid using chemical insecticide in your garden, as parent birds feed their young on garden insects, which can kill their young? Did you know that hedges make an ideal nesting place? Did you know that all varieties in our product range are subject to all year round testing? Did you know that birds sing to mark their territory and attract a mate? Did you know that birds begin building their nests in March/April? Did you know that garden birds change their plumage in August? Did you know that many garden birds raise their third and last brood in July? Did you know that it is a good idea to mix seashells in the food, as they are extremely rich in important minerals which the birds need? Did you know that fledged young stay with their parents for a couple of weeks to learn about life and its inherent dangers? Did you know that an average-sized garden can accommodate 15-20 pairs of breeding birds? Did you know that you can create a rich varied birdlife in your garden by providing a broad range of food products? Did you know that sunflower seeds are rich in oil as well as vitamins A & E, which are important for the birds’ plumage and sight? Did you know that many garden birds prefer black sunflower seed to the striped variety? Did you know that nuts should be served in a nut feeder, as birds can choke on them if they are served on bird tables?
Answer: Black Sun is a natural phenomenon that occurs in spring and autumn when huge flocks of starlings gather in marshland areas before migrating.
The starlings come from all the countries around the Baltic and Norway. Presumably it is the weather that triggers their need and instinct to head south, as it happens immediately before the first frost of winter.
Just before landing for the night, the huge flocks of starlings draw fascinating patterns in the sky. Referred to as Black Sun, the phenomenon is a form of training before the actual migration itself, which is seldom witnessed as it takes place at night.
It is probable that over thousands of generations the starlings have learned that it is safest to migrate in one large flock (just as herrings protect themselves by swimming in large shoals). And the fact that they chose the South West Jutland coastal mudflats is no coincidence either, as the area provides sufficient food for the thousands of starlings. Added to this is the fact that many birds prefer to migrate along coastline areas.
Observations and studies have shown that birds use different navigation systems that vary from species to species. Another factor is whether the migratory route is hereditary, acquired learning or a mixture of both. Large birds that migrate in flocks often use an acquired or partially acquired migratory pattern. Geese are an example of this. The young birds learn the migratory route by following the older birds. Geese often have established resting areas, which are visited year after year on their way north or south.
The stork is an example of a bird that follows a migratory route that is both learned and hereditary. Normally the young storks follow the adult birds when they migrate south. In this way they learn the migratory route. Studies have shown, however, that young storks that for one reason or another become isolated from the flock, can find their way again. Other studies show that acquired migratory patterns are stronger than hereditary ones. This means that young storks will always follow the adult stork if they are close by. This is the case in Sweden, where for many years storks have been raised and released into the wild in the hope of attracting a large stock population. Unfortunately what has happened is that the old storks do not migrate but instead winter in Sweden. The young storks therefore stay in Sweden, which was not quite the objective of the exercise.
Birds that follow hereditary migratory patterns must have some kind of compass that enables them to establish their direction. Many studies have shown that the birds have different kinds of ‘compasses’. Some birds may only use one kind of compass while others use several kinds. When it comes to determining the migratory direction of birds, scientists measure their migratory unrest under different conditions. In practice this involves placing the birds in a funnel equipped with an inkpad at the bottom and blotting paper at the sides. A bird that shows a great deal of migratory unrest will constantly hop up and down in the same direction, which is seen as a ‘footprint’ on the blotting paper. There are also other less subtle methods for determining the birds’ migratory direction.
We know that certain birds use the sun and stars by which to navigate. In order to navigate using the sun, birds must have an inner clock. They simply have to know the time – and they do. Scientists discovered this using a simple method. They placed the birds in a funnel and then placed the funnel in a room with an artificial sun or sky. By moving the sun or the sky the scientists discovered that the birds moved too. If, for example, they moved the sun ten degrees, the birds altered their direction by the same amount.
Some migratory birds navigate using the earth’s magnetic field. The earth is surrounded by magnetic lines that form a special pattern around the earth. Somehow the birds are able to use this pattern and thus use the earth’s magnetic field by which to navigate. This has also been corroborated by putting the migratory birds in a funnel and then placing the funnel in an artificial magnetic field. When the magnetic field changed, the birds changed direction.
Carrier pigeons and certain sea birds use smells to navigate but scientists continue to disagree about the importance of this olfactory ability.