Sunday, December 1

Just hanging about

In an earlier post I wrote about how we encouraged a diverse range of birds to visit our garden. I described the sort of bird tables that we had so now I want to move on to the hanging feeders.

We like to position our feeders with three considerations. 
  1. Can we watch visiting birds from the house?
  2. Will the birds be happy to feed there?
  3. Is the feeder safe from cats?
We have one of those feeding stations with various hooks attached from which to hang feeders.
It's developed a bit of a bend due to being blown over in a strong wind. This I find visually annoying but the birds don't seem to care. The three hanging feeders contain black sunflower seeds, a general seed mix and niger seeds. 

The niger seeds are in a normal seed feeder which isn't recommended but we found our bird visitors didn't take to the feeders specially designed for niger seeds. The niger seeds are second choice of food for our flock of goldfinches and have also attracted siskins. 

Birds often wait on the roof of the bird table for a turn on the feeders and also some scattered seed lands there providing another feeding opportunity. You can also see a flat wire tray just behind the green feeder on which more food can be placed. The globe on top was used for fat balls but we found the starlings could get in and made short work of any fat balls placed in there so we looked for a container that they couldn't access and found this.
The only problem is that now the sparrows have taken over and make short work of the fat balls instead of the starlings. This cage hangs from the magnolia tree next to the house. Also hanging from the magnolia tree are three other feeders.

One contains peanuts and the other metal cylinder with holes is for buggy or fruity nibbles.
Buggy nibbles are bits of suet with insect or fruit fragments mixed in.
Then there is the extremely popular sunflower heart feeder. This seems to be everyone's all time favourite food and the feeder is the source of much squabbling.
This feeder can be calibrated so that the heavier birds can't use it and ours is set so that either three sparrows or goldfinches can feed at any one time. The birds seem to have worked this out and will repel any extra birds that try and feed causing the hopper to close. A queue will form in the tree waiting for an opportunity to hop onto the ring.

Another hanging feeder is the piece of birch trunk. These were being sold off for £1 at a nearby RSPB reserve after they had coppiced some birch trees. 
At the moment this is empty but as winter sets in I'll fill the holes with a mixture of the various bird foods held together with lard. I'll also hang up some half coconuts filled with the same mixture.
One coconut half will be tied to the magnolia tree so that robins and blackbirds can gain access so they don't get left out.
The hanging shells are great for the tit family although other birds manage to access them. Starlings - having the wrong sort of feet - aren't supposed to be able to cling but ours can!
I've bought lard in readiness so now all I need is to get mixing.
I've a 'recipe for fat cake on my website here. It's important to use a hard fat for bird cake as soft spreading type fat can clog the birds feathers - also using fat left over from cooking meat can give birds food poisoning.

One type of food that I should have mentioned in my last post was another favourite namely soft-bill mix. We buy a mix called Golden Chorus which is specially produced for birds that don't tend to eat seeds, such as blackbirds and robins. Various other similar mixes are available which usually contain, insects bits, berries and maybe honey too. As well as the birds being fans, hedgehogs also love it!

If you are interested in our full (almost) gardening activities my November diary entry is now completed on my website here.

Copyright: Original post from Our Plot at Green Lane Allotments http://glallotments.blogspot.co.uk/ author S Garrett

29 comments:

  1. Does your bird-feeding station have a Michelin star, and if not, why not?

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    1. We'll have to apply, Mark but I wonder who the judges would be?

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  2. Super photographs Sue. We have a robin that we feed when we are on the plot, he's straight out when he see us, but haven't had much luck with the hanging feeders which are very attractive to the squirrels.

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    1. We just have the occasional squirrel SG that hangs upside down by its tail to access food. It's one reason that some of the feeders are on long hooks.

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  3. Squirrels are our problem too, big time. Some of your feeders look like they would be robust enough to defeat them though. Love the robin with the big smile on his face!

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    1. Some of them are advertised as squirrel proof Jessica - that is if any really are.

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  4. Lucky birds to have all that food. I bet they love your garden. I was wondering if you ever have a problem with mice or rats attracted to the spilled stuff on the ground. When we had our hens there would often be a rat or two visiting and I try not to put anything out that will attract them now. I have put up a fatty coconut as I figured it wouldn't be so messy. I saw a robin on it, so hopefully he'll be back!

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    1. We do get field mice in the greenhouse and garage, Debbie but we are near to open fields and we got these before we fed birds as much as we do now - no doubt some have a nibble at the any left over seed that spills onto the ground too. As incidentally do hedgehogs when they are about. We haven't seem any rats but then again they reckon that you are never too far away from a rat. Compost heaps are supposed to be a favourite haunt and we haven't one of those in the garden. I suppose the answer is that we haven't a rodent problem but no doubt they are around and would be regardless of bird food.

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  5. What a great post, it's good to see what you're feeding each species. I find that the suet and also dried mealworms are very popular here.

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    1. The blackbirds and robins love those CJ. The smaller birds will fall out over sunflower hearts. The species we get in the garden are shown on the link from the sidebar if you click on the goldfinch image. About 25 species to date that we have seen.

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  6. No wonder you get such a diverse mix of birds in your garden, you cater for each one. I fill my feeders with mixed seed, sunflower hearts and niger seed, and I have a couple of suet block holders. The starlings are the main ones who eat the suet blocks, but I do like to see them in the garden. They're supposed to be declining in numbers but I get plenty here.

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    1. You don't do badly yourself, Jo. You offer quite a variety, We get lots of starlings and house sparrows too

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  7. I really enjoy watching the birds at this time of year. You have a great photo of the robin. I love the way there seems to be a robin in every garden and every park.

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    1. They are great little birds, Kelli. Even if they are pretty feisty with one another. We get young ones too.

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  8. Having read this I really wish I could release some of our birds in your garden, wow....how wonderfully SPOILT your birds are, they will be grateful over winter. You seem to have covered every base, even the hedgehogs!!! Fantastic bird pics! xxx

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    1. I wish that you could too, Snowbird.

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  9. I use bought dripping for making up my bird feeders as I find this doesn't melt so easily in the winter sun like the lard does. Probably more pricey but the birds love it. I like your feeder for the suet pellets, I will keep my eye out for one of these!! I want to get a bird feeder sorted for the bee plot this next coming year.

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    1. I'm assuming the bought dripping doesn't contain meat juices, Tanya as the home produced stuff is bad for the birds.

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    2. Should have added the suet pellet feeder came from the RSPB

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  10. Unique feeders. A bird cake??? I have never heard before. It's so interesting!

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    1. Our birds can struggle in winter Endah which is why we have to feed them more.

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  11. I love all of the feeders. No squirrels? I am down to one feeder, because the squirrels empty them in a day.

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    1. Only the occasional squirrels, Bonnie and the don't seem to do much damage. I;ll maybe wish that I hadn't wrote that!

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  12. Playing catch up with blogs.. great posts about about feeding the birds and lovely photos too!. I love watching the birds feed.. I'm slowly adding to my collection of feeders and hope to have even more later. The birds certainly need our help.

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    1. They do, Julie and now selling food for them is big business too

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  13. Wow! you really take effort on bird visiting the plot! I must take some photos of birds to my garden too next time!

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    1. The feeders are in the garden, Malar. It wouldn't be fair to put food out on the plot as in winter we don;t visit enough to keep up the supply.

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  14. Buggy nibbles are new to me, thanks for the heads up.

    I like your list of things you take into consideration for hanging feeders. Another thing I have to think about when hanging my feeders is distance to the window/risk of bird strike. Some species in particular seem particularly naive when it comes to windows no matter how many decals I plaster onto them or how dirty my windows are. The dark eyed juncos are so suseptible I don't fill my feeder for a month or so after they fledge because (this is dreadful) otherwise the wham! of a bird strike happens with regularity.

    The squirrels are infrequent visitors, thankfully, but the bears like to stop by, so our feeders only hang from a second story deck. Your set up really puts mine to shame!

    Christine in Alaska

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    1. The only window where we have a problem occasionally is the patio window but as it is under a porch it is only occasionally - there are fruity nibbles too, I guess the bears would make short work of a bird feeder - do they go for peanuts?

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