A Grain of Love
The BSPB campaign for winter songbirds feeding
We are so used to them that we take their presence in the background for granted and see them as a constant in our everyday life. The truth is that we, humans, depend on their survival. In all ecosystems the individual links are interconnected and the disappearance or the destruction of even one leads to disharmony. An example of that can be found in our capital, Sofia: we all love the chestnut trees which adorn the parks and the central streets and are symbolic for the city. They act as the lungs of the city and provide the much needed fresh air, coolness and shade in the summer. The chestnut trees host a big variety of inhabitants – insects, rodents and birds. We see some of these inhabitants as a positive presence, while others we consider pests. Perhaps you have noticed that in the last decade the chestnut trees in Sofia turn yellow in the very beginning of summer and their leaves fall off in June. This is caused by the leaf-miner – a species of moth whose larvae destroy the leaves. Its only natural enemies discovered so far are the birds from the tit family. They are recognized as nature’s caretakers. The Great Tit in particular is widespread and is capable of consuming a huge amount of insects – it devours its own weight in insects daily. In the period of raising the young one family of tits can consume up to several hundred kilograms of insects!
One would think that birds can survive by themselves and do not need our help. The truth is revealed to some extent by the data gathered by the BSPB with the Common Bird Monitoring Scheme. Its analysis reveals some alarming tendencies. Over the last six years the number of House Sparrows has decreased with 42%; for the Collared Dove – with 35%; for the Jay – with 30%; for the Blackbird – with 22%; and for the Great Tit – with 13%.
Would Sofia be the next European capital to lose its entire population of House Sparrows in the same manner as this happened in London and Paris? This depends on us all…
In order to help the uncommon ‘common’ birds that spend the winter close to us, we started the campaign “A Grain of Love”. The initiative is open to everyone. Either by donating or by putting up a bird feeder for the winter you can help our feathered neighbours survive the winter in the cities, towns and villages.
What does winter feeding mean?
Well, it’s simple. Some well-known birds – such as tits, woodpeckers, sparrows, robins, jays etc., do not migrate south and spend the winter in Bulgaria. Their survival in the cold months is harsh, especially when it starts snowing. The cold means that they need a lot of energy to keep their bodies warm. And we, humans, can help them obtain that energy. How? By giving them a handful of seeds. That is why the BSPB launched a series of events to put feeders in parks and city gardens, and in front of public and office buildings.
How can I participate?
1. Make a bird feeder. This year we plan an even greater campaign to include all nature-lovers from all across the country. To join us you just need to make a bird feeder from a used plastic bottle and put it up on your balcony, in the garden or in the nearest park; then you need to supply it regularly with sunflower seeds. Note that they must be raw and unsalted. Sunflower seeds are the most appropriate food for the species of songbirds which spend the winter in our country and can be found easily at reasonable prices.
2. Make a donation for the winter feeding. You can donate money or raw sunflower seeds to the BSPB. Last year we raised more than 700 lev through a fund-raiser on the For Bulgaria platform, and through two charity bazaars in the city of Dobritch. We invested the money in sunflower seeds which went to feeders across the country. The BSPB organized over 40 events – workshops for making feeders from recycled materials and presentations in 11 cities. As a result from the workshops more than 400 feeders were made and put up for the birds.
3. Pass the idea on. Share it with your friends, on the social networks, present a friend with a feeder, organize a workshop in your kid’s kindergarten or school – you are free to find the best way for you personally to help us spread the idea and find new supporters. Do not forget that when we are many, we can make a real difference. Because every grain we give to our birds is a grain of love!