Springtime

USPCA Spring

Though it still seems a long way off with the terrible weather we’ve had, Spring is here. With the improving weather comes a new set of animal issues to consider.

Livestock

With the weather warming up and livestock being returned to the pasture with their young, it is important to make sure you keep your dogs on a lead when near livestock.

Livestock mothers can be very protective and if your dog is off the lead you could find yourself in a tricky situation.

Wild Birds

Spring is the perfect time to attract birds with nesting material, encouraging them to take up residence in your backyard. This gives birders the unique opportunity to see the entire life cycle of backyard birds, from courtship behaviour to nest building to raising the young fledglings. With the right nesting material, you may even be able to attract several families of birds to your backyard.

The term “nesting material” refers to anything that birds may use to construct a nest.

Different birds will use different materials to build their nests depending on the size of the nest, where it is constructed and how it will be used in terms of number of eggs, multiple broods and yearly reuse.

Baby birds

Fact: Baby birds will leave the nest for the first time..

Fiction: Picking them up, putting them in a cardboard box in the garage and feeding them soggy bread is a good idea.

Best advice: Leave them be unless they are in peril i.e. by a busy road. Mother birds are very protective of their young and they know how to respond.

Many fledglings perish each spring through well intentioned human intervention

Feeding the Wild Birds

Although its tempting to continue to put out lots of food for birds in the spring and summer, you should be selective in what you leave out for them otherwise you may do more harm than good.

The RSPB recommends feeding birds high protein foods in the summer months,

‘Black sunflower seeds, pinhead oatmeal, soaked sultanas, raisins and currants, mild grated cheese, mealworms, waxworms, mixes for insectivorous birds, good seed mixtures without loose peanuts, RSPB food bars and summer seed mixture are all good foods to provide. Soft apples and pears cut in half, bananas and grapes are also good. Some people use soaked dog or cat food and tinned pet foods, but these may attract magpies, crows and cats.

Avoid using peanuts, fat and bread at this time, since these can be harmful if adult birds feed them to their nestlings. If you feel you must put out peanuts, only do so in suitable mesh feeders that will not allow sizeable pieces of peanuts to be removed and provide a choking risk.

Home-made fatballs can go soft and rancid in warm summer weather, and should be avoided. Commercially produced fat bars are suitable for summer feeding but discard any remains after three weeks.’

All Wild Bird Supplies available at the USPCA Animal Hospital Newry.