Hi, I'm Clare Cahill
I am the founder of A Little Bird Company. A little company that helps you attract little birds to your garden.
I've always fed the birds. Initially it was more out of a sense of duty if I'm honest. I'd fill up my battered old feeder, head off to work and by the time I got home it was empty.
It was only when my first daughter was born and I was at home on maternity leave did I realise the food was being eaten entirely by pigeons. Enormous pigeons! I'd given them so much food they could barely walk.
Not that I have anything against pigeons - I'd just imagined there were all sorts of beautiful little birds eating my food while I was at work.
Little did I know, but catching sight of these pigeons in the act was the first step on a journey which became my livelihood.
From Gluttonous Pigeons to Spectacular Goldfinches
I started experimenting with small bags of individual ingredients to try and work out what would attract the smaller birds. I patiently observed. Did they like sunflower hearts? Hempseed? Mealworms?
It was all just trial and error at first. I discovered certain types of suet pellets that the little birds loved. Other suet, they rejected and it turned into a disgusting congealed pile in my feeder.
Caring for the birds became my new way of living. As a new mum, I was suddenly without the structure of working and the routine of knowing what would happen next. My newborn was unpredictable, but the birds weren’t. I’d fill a pot of tea, top up my feeders while it brewed, and watch the birds from my window as I sipped a nice hot tea and cuddled my beautiful daughter.
It became my new project. Something I could do alongside caring for my daughter.
I carried on testing different ingredients and came up with a mix that seemed to work a little better. I started spotting blue tits and robins and blackbirds. Greeting the little birds at my feeder each day felt like such an accomplishment and connected me a little more with the wildlife outside my window.
I continued to research and observe. I noticed some birds would feed from the ground whilst others only visited if the seed was higher up. I tried different feeders. Ones that wouldn’t get brittle in the summer heat, or crack in the frosty weather.
By the time my second daughter arrived just over a year later, I was in the rhythm of putting out bird food each day. I started needing more food as word got out that my garden had the tastiest supplies. I went from using 1kg a week to over 10kg - all of which fed the hungry beaks without any mess or waste.
As my daughters grew, their interest in birds grew too. One day as they were getting ready for school, I looked out and spotted a goldfinch. They’re not particularly rare - in fact, they’re one of the populations of birds that’s increasing in the UK - but we’d never seen one in our urban garden. It was the most amazing moment to see such a beautiful bird and know I’d encouraged him in with my food. It felt like a proper accomplishment. I’d come so far from a sea of pigeons to spotting this tiny, spectatularly coloured goldfinch, who was bursting with character. It felt like I’d achieved something.
As the variety of birds grew, so did my business
When my family and friends saw (and heard) my garden filled with such a wide variety of birds and bird song, they wanted to get their hands on my
special bird food mix. The results they had in their own gardens were so good, they told their friends, who in turn, told theirs.
Sharing the joy and enthusiasm of their gardens being full of little birds gave me such pleasure. It was also insightful to know my mix worked in gardens other than my own. It was a lightbulb moment.
The COVID lockdown had prevented me from going to work, and I started to question whether I wanted to return to my old job as a primary school teacher. Starting a business would give me the freedom to spend time with my family as well as pursuing my new passion for birds.
And so, A Little Bird Co. was born.
A space of my own
For a bootstrapped business owner, each new customer and every bit of positive feedback gave me a huge confidence boost.
Growth was slow and organic, but over time, I found myself tripping over more and more boxes and vacuuming bird seed from my lounge floor daily.
The time had come to find a more suitable place to work.
I now hand-mix and send my seed subscriptions from a beautiful studio at an equestrian center in the middle of the pretty Hertfordshire countryside. It’s hard work, but me and my dog, Bella, are surrounded by wildlife on all sides, beautiful green fields and horses, and I love it.
Some days I have to pinch myself at how far I’ve come. I have my loyal customers to thank for that.
Why my bird food is different
Cheaper bird food blends from the supermarket and garden centre are padded out with inexpensive filler ingredients like wheat, maize and dried peas to keep the cost down. The big birds love it. Sadly the little ones can't peck through the husks with their tiny beaks, and even if they could, the big birds would scare them away.
My top-quality blend is different.
I choose only the most nutritious and beneficial ingredients that are guaranteed to be popular with little birds. I adjust my hand-mixed blends
seasonally so the birds have the specific nutrition they need while nesting, breeding, molting and during the cold winter months. Sunflower hearts make up the basis of all my blends, but I add oyster shell for extra calcium in spring for strong and healthy eggs or extra suet and mealworms for energy in the winter.
If you want beautiful little birds like blue tits, robins and goldfinches, feed them something they love.
I Care About More Than Birds
Some species of wild birds are becoming endangered in the UK. My goal is to support small bird populations in urban areas by making it simple, enjoyable and affordable for families to do their bit. You can help them by creating a safe habitat and supplementing their diminishing food supply.
I love birds of course, but it’s bigger than just that. I also care about our planet.
Frustrated, not only with the quality of bird food available but also the single use plastic used to package it, I didn’t want to be adding to the problem. My business is plastic-free and I designed my own compostable packaging.
I also support communities from overseas by supplying fair trade products such as this beautiful, yet sustainable Artisan Nesting Box. It’s
hand-crafted by talented women in Bangladesh and decorated using recycled sari fabric.
I carefully select every product I sell. I’m a one-woman band with my personal reputation at stake, so only offer items that I’ve personally tried and tested in my own garden. The seeds are mixed by hand; the products are intelligently sourced and it’s all packaged and sent by yours truly.
Welcome the little birds to your window
Back in those early days as a new mum, feeding and watching the birds grounded me and gave me structure. It slowed me down and helped me learn to abandon the timetables I had always lived by and follow a more natural rhythm.
When I started putting out bird food, I could barely recognise a robin from a blackbird, and maybe you're the same. But I encourage you to set aside a little time each day to sit and your window and enjoy watching the birds pecking the food you've put out for them
My promise is to make it as simple as possible for you to offer your little birds the very best!
Start welcoming birds to your window today with A Little Bird Company