Worms with attitude

  Diemmess 11:18 08 Jan 2012

Mealworms crunch plastic!

For some years the head gardener in this family has fed a tame robin with live mealworms. She started with a fledgling too young to fear us which followed her around. That opportunist has passed his skill down through several generations, feeding from the hand in the nesting season and the depths of winter, but that's a story on its own.

The mealworms are bought over the net and arrive in small plastic tubs filled with bran. The plastic is very thin and easily cracked, but by the time the tub is nearly empty there are always one or more holes chewed out at the edge where the flat bottom ends and the wall of the tub takes over. By this time several worms have dug their way out but are still trapped by a larger box. These holes have been nibbled out of the thin but hard plastic. The worms must have a beak like nail clippers.

These worms are about 2cms long, mercifully don't smell, but do look a little like blow fly maggots. My 'keeper' feeds the worms with small shreds of apple skin and a tub will last a few weeks depending on how hungry the robin.

  carver 11:58 08 Jan 2012

I always take them out if the container you buy them in and put them in a far stronger container, have you thought about buying the dried mealworms far cheaper and last a lot longer.

Have you tried putting some thing like half a potato in the box to keep them fed and stop them munching on the plastic because if they eat the plastic that will be passed onto any birds that eat them.

  Forum Editor 12:36 08 Jan 2012

As a plastic tub of mealworms came in at the front door my wife would be leaving via the back door.

On one never-to-be-forgotten (or forgiven) occasion we were on a boating holiday on the Cambridgeshire waterways. The children were young, and I decided to teach them to fish. I bought a container of maggots on the way to the boatyard,and as the staff helped to load our luggage into the boat, one of them unknowingly opened the lid of the maggot container. It was inside a tackle bag, so we didn't notice, and off we sailed, into the sunset to start our holiday.

I'll draw a veil over the night's proceedings - suffice it to say that by morning I had been over the whole boat on my hands and knees collecting stray maggots - they were everywhere. My wife developed a phobia which has never left her.

I would love to feed our garden robins as you do, but the screams would draw complaints from anyone within a square mile.

  carver 20:27 08 Jan 2012

FE I sympathise with you, earlier last year I went for a 4 day fishing holiday with a friend, cut a long story short he left his maggots in the boot of my car overnight and they sweat ed and got out of the container and even though I spent the best part of a couple of hours picking them out of the boot I only got about a third of them.

Three weeks later I had to put up with a car full of flys every day for about 2 weeks, worse part there were so many the car alarm would go of 2-3 times a day.

  Bingalau 20:57 08 Jan 2012

I buy the dried type of meal-worm to feed the birds in my garden, but I never thought of trying to feed them by hand. I mix them in with two or three other types of seed and put a ration out for them every day. The buggers feed better than I do. But I like to see the different species of birds that are attracted to the garden. I can sit and watch them feed and it is better than watching the telly of course. But when I am outside I don't take a lot of notice of birds. But I regard the ones in my garden as mine. (I actually hate to see the masses of pigeons in city centres. (flying rats is the right name for them I think). But I certainly am not a "Tweeter" (nor do I tweet on the Internet).

  Aitchbee 12:53 10 Jan 2012

Bingalau - I'm the same as you...a bird-watcher.

When I hear the birds through my open kitchen window, I have a look to see what's there, at the feeding stations which I have set up at the back of the house.

This morning there were a lot of shrills, and crows cawing overhead.

A sparrowhawk had landed and was in the act of killing a young starling with it's talons and beak.It then flew with it's catch over to some bushes twenty feet away.

It's the first time I have seen a bird of prey from my window.

It might have been a kestrel or falcon...not sure...but was fascinating to watch.

  Diemmess 10:41 12 Jan 2012

A newly fledged buzzard early morning 28/8/11 A flattering photo over and beyond a neighbour's field with an 18 x zoom.

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One day last summer I opened the back door and a shrieking blackbird whooshed past hotly pursued by an almost subliminal sparrowhawk which brushed my chest as it went over a wall and out of sight.

What has this to do with mealworms ability to chomp plastic in order to escape? Not a lot! - but FE might understand that is how we discovered the mealworm's ability to chew for freedom, when a few were found wandering around our fridge.

  Chegs ®™ 06:15 15 Jan 2012

I don't put out food for the birds as we & lots of neighbours own cats & I regularly find feathers or corpses in the garden.I do live near a "meadow" and regularly see birds of prey whenever I'm out.I haven't a clue what type of bird these are,but will stop and watch them until either they've gone or my body seizes up.

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