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BIRD FOOD & WATER IS THE KEY TO CAPTURING YOUR GARDEN BIRDS ON A BIRDCAM !


How to make a BIRD CAKE.doc ~ click to save this Word doc


Welcome ~ to Simbird & the Birdfeeder and Birdbath information guide ~ Simon Knott

You can only get very close to your Garden Bird's and other wildlife with your Bird Webcam or Birdcam if you are prepared to feed the Garden Birds and it is just as important to give fresh clean water daily or as often as you can... The reason is both for drinking (Birds need drinking water like us) and for cleaning their feathers ~ to keep them in peak condition for flying. I use a Garden Bird bath statue (see the above animation picture of Blackbird enjoying a wash!) This is perticularly important in the winter, where ice may form on the surface and you will need to break it !

The next is to set up your feeding stations by various methods... the more types of Birdfeeders you can put in your garden ~ the wider selection of Birds that will be attracted to your garden... I have Black sunflower seed feeders, mixed seed feeders, peanut feeders, thistle/niger feeders, hanging Bird tables, fixed ground tables (for ground feeding Birds), fatballs and fruits (Blackbird love apples cut in half)

Simbird Bird Tree... Zoom in with Canon S5 On the right you can see my Bird feeder tree...click >
it is a tree which had grown so big its branches were blocking out the sun to the garden ! So I decided instead of cutting it down I could transform it into a Bird feeding station by chopping off the top of the branches, making a bare semi-circle tree with the remaining branches for the Bird feeders and a platform for Birds to hop from branch to branch... looking out for my cat "willow" and other preditors before they decide which feeder to attack first ;-) The Birds also use the very top branch to make songs and calls to attract a mate and to mark out the boundaries of their territory...

You can see from the picture above ( click to see larger version ) that I've taken the tree picture with the zoom contracted which is ready to zoom in ~ with the Canon S5 Digital Camera and the Canon TC-DC58B Tele Converter Lens ~ to any part of the tree where there might be action. The tele lens converts the focal length of the body lens by a factor of approximately 1.5 ~ 35 mm film equivalent at maximum telephoto of approximately 648 mm*

My Feeders

The following list gives you some ideas on what feeders you might like to use :

Mixed Seed feeder Black Sunflower Seed feeder Hanging Bird table + Nuts Apple or fatball Fatball

Click on any thumbnail for a larger version... They are mostly hanging type feeders and hanging Bird tables which can hang from any branch on my tree or you can hang them from brackets or tall posts stuck in the ground. The first from the left is a general mixed seed feeder, which can also be used for black sunflower seed. The second from left is a black sunflower seed feeder (this one allows for the Birds to sit and eat more easily). The middle picture shows my original hanging Bird table [ which you can feed any loose food ~ like seed, crushed nuts ( so baby birds do not choke ), bread, gratted cheese, fatballs etc...] and it also has a nut feeder hanging from below, which is kept very dry by the roof of the above hanging Bird table. The second from right is a apple feeder ( but I'm using it as a fatball feeder at the moment ) nice roof to keep off the rain too. And lastly on the right is a fatball feeder ( If you find the Birds getting caught in the mesh take it off and skewer the fatball or use it for fruit instead )

My fixed garden Birdtable is in fact the 3 meter wall ~ instead of using a ground feeder ~ where my cat "willow" might pounce ! This is how I get most of my Birdcam pictures as I can rest a old bird table with a roof, which houses the Bird webcam or Birdcam :

*Philips ToUcam Pro Webcam Infomation*

In front of this Birdcam is where I put a Gardman Compact Ground Feeder ~ which can be used to feed mealworms to Robin ~ as it will drain any rain and keep the food drier and cleaner. You can also use it to put in loose feed like mixed seed and black sunflower seed. In the picture at the back is where I put apple halfs for the Blackbirds and in the distance you can see the hanging Bird table and nut feeder as mentioned earlier.

When the Birdcam is set up you can experiment with positioning the feeders for distance ~ focusing and to see at what times of day you get sunlight and the best pictures, the sun can either highlight the Birds or may blacken the image because of too much backlighting... on my software I can use a backlight compensation mode which lightens the Bird in front of the light (see the photos below which show different setups and lighting effects)

Bird feeder Bird feeder Bird feeder Bird feeder Bird feeder
~ Click on any of the above images to see a enlarged digital photograph ~

Types of Food Energy

This is a list of foods to give you a idea on calories and types of Bird food to use... but it is best to have a mixed selection of food sourse, to give the Birds a balanced healthy diet :-)

Food Calorific Value (per 100g)
Mealworms 150 calories
Raisins 300 calories
Apples 350 calories
Oats 370 calories
Cheese 400 calories
Niger 480 calories
Sunflower Seed 500 calories
Peanuts 560 calories
Sunflower Hearts 600 calories
Suet 800 calories


~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Cleaning

It is important to keep your feeding stations hygienic. Bird feeders bring lots of birds into contact with each other day after day a great opportunity for disease to spread. Tables and other feeding surfaces should be disinfected on a regular (weekly or fortnightly) cycle by using boiling water or Bird/Pet disinfectants such as Ark-klens or Tamodine-E (available at pet stores or RSPB online shop), followed by thorough rinsing and air drying before subsequent use. It is a good idea to move the position of feeders regularly as this stops the build up of food and dirt. The ground beneath feeders may be kept clean by regular sweeping and disinfected and also Bird baths shold have regular cleaning and changes of water to keep it fresh... A good tip if you are unable to keep disinfectanting is to use foods like Blacksunflower seed which leave less mess (only the shells are left for you to pick up with a dust pan and brush) and put out less food, but still try to clean at least fortnightly ~ but on a regular basis is the key.

Tips and Advice

You will get better pictures when the birds start to find the food you put out for them and get used to the webcam... Do not put out too much to start with as in the beginning there will be less Birds and so they will not eat up all the food and this will go stale.
Remember Birds do not like to eat food which as gone off ! They smell this and do not eat this bad food... it will just rot ! Always try to keep everything clean and fresh... you do not want the Birds getting ill before they have settled into your garden oasis :-) After a while they will clean up the food quickly and they will almost poke their little beaks into your lens... to look at you !

Practice and patience makes perfect... in getting the best shots... take lots and lots and select the best ;-)

You will find they feed at certain times of the day

I use different feed for a variety of Bird and wildlife...

You can feed all year round to both help out the Adult Birds bring up the young and for getting those nice Spring and Summer shots of the young Birds...

Feeding note : Young Birds choke easily on whole peanuts ~ therefore from April to September only feed whole peanuts in a peanut feeder. Tip* : I crush the whole peanuts into small granules so that I can put them out loose in a tray during this time;-)

Finally... Good idea to put up many Birdboxes around your garden, which allow them to choose the best birdbox and postion... That way you will at least get one or two occupants ;-) The height for a Robin is approx shoulder height or less than 2M, some bush cover for hidding and a open box... and for Tits, Bluetit, Great tit, Coal tit, Sparrows, Starlings and other birds 2M to 4M high on a wall or tree... But the high nesters of 5M need more space ~ this includes Woodpeckers (3-5m) and larger species such as Owls and Kestrels. Site barn Owl and Kestrel boxes on isolated trees or the outsides of buildings near woodland or overlooking open ground, with good visibility from the nest. Also face the entrances so that they are facing away from hot sun or weather coming in from the west ~ so boxes are usually positioned facing somewhere between N and NE... ( but in theory it can be into the wet weather from the west (or NW at least) if sheltered or to the sunny south if shaded ? But best to be on the safe side :-)

But please do not locate any Bird boxes near to the feeders or Bird tables as the Adults will be physically and mentally worn down by the constant fights for its own territory.

Hope you have fun feeding the Birds and setting up your Birdcam... And let me know how you get on with building your own Birdcam and if you've setup a Birdcam website by email.

Information on Birdcam tips and advice


Any comments or ideas for Simbird are welcome my email is below...

Happy Birding

Simon Knott

simon@simbird.com





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