Feeding the birds

Last  spring we decided to try and encourage birds back into our garden. Our two cats had pretty much put paid to visits for quite a few years, but age had now prevented them from being overly active in the garden.

Next step, a couple of feeders were purchased and hung in one of our small trees at the bottom of our garden.

We gazed expectantly but it took a while for the birds to return, but eventually they came. Blue tits, sparrows, jackdaws a plenty and collared doves enjoyed the fare provided both hung and on the ground.

The jackdaws being bigger birds made a bit of a mess spilling seeds on the ground below the feeders, but this obviously provided food for the ground feeders.

Imagine our horror when one day mid summer when I stood at the window watching the feeding when a ground feeder arrived who was definitely not welcome at the feeding station. You guessed it, a rat.  

Mrs Digweed immediately ordered the removal of the feeders.

Coming into winter I would love to start feeding the birds again. Question is, what can I feed them which will not encourage the furry beasties?



  • PosyPosy Posts: 968

    Nothing. Some feeders are designed to reduce mess but birds always scatter some around. The truth is that we are very selective in our love of wildlife: we like pretty, harmless things but rats and slugs and greenfly are no more or less wild than birds and hedgehogs. If you put out the food, they will come. However, they are never far away, anyway, so the occasional glimpse need not worry you overmuch.

  • BLTBLT Posts: 468

    I have put out seed and water.. Its has been out for over a week now andonly today have any birds discovered it.. I had a Blue Tit checkout the bird box above the bird table as a Des Res lol.. Now a Magpie has discovered it too which scares off the smaller birds..

    I am thinking of creating a second feeding area so the bigger birds leave the smaller ones be.. But where is the problem as I do not want to encourage Rodents..

  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 19,692

    Don't put out too much food - only a small handful, or a small amount in a  feeder. Bring it in at night or clear away any that isn't eaten. Once birds are visiting regularly, you can increase the amount accordingly. You also need to tailor the feed according to  the birds that initially appear - it's a gradual process. 

    Use good quality food too - not those bags which contain a load of sunflower seeds and barley/wheat etc. You could use just sunflower hearts only, and then see how it goes. image

    I have a cage which is made of mesh and only allows the smaller birds inside to feed.  I then put a small amount on the ground for the bigger birds. 

  • LynLyn Posts: 8,062

    We made an area with patio slabs, then bought one of those poles to hang feeders, easily swept up and washed down. .

    Gardening on the wild, windy west side of Dartmoor. 
  • josusa47josusa47 Posts: 683

    Perhaps you could encourage your senior cats to patrol oftener.  The rats don't know the cats are past it.  The smell of cats might be enough to keep them away.

  • cornellycornelly Posts: 342

    We have done the same as Lyn a pole with a couple of feeders on a paved area, we keeps cats away by "using used drinks", and rats by placing poison under our shed it is on 2 by 2 inch runners, rats are always in the area, where ever you live, it is just a matter of control, very rarely see them at the feeders, keep grey squirrels away by axle greasing the feeder pole.

  • AngieRAngieR Posts: 345

    You can buy feeders with trays on the bottom which helps cut down the amount of feed that ends up on the ground.  Let your cats patrol but ensure they have bells on their collars.  The bells alert the birds, I find it works.  I have lots of birds visiting with very few casualties.

  • ShepsSheps Posts: 562

    I agree with, Lyn re the patio slabs, I did the same and it's a doddle to clean up ( which I did this morning ) just jet wash down, throw over a bucket of diluted Jeyes and go over with a stiff garden brush, then jet wash to rinse, done.

    I try and reduce spillage by using feeder trays, I get loads of Goldfinch visiting the feeders and the trays really do help.

    Here's one of my feeders with tray attached.


  • Lovely photo Shepsimageimage

    I have the same type of feeder for the Goldfinches - works well.

    Just spent nearly half an hour catching up a young Goldie which flew in to the GH whilst I was working in there.  Normally I find the best method is to go outside and wait but this one was determined to rattle about for ever.  All well in the end - caught up, cob webs removed from feet, a minute sitting on my hand and then he/she was away.

  • ShepsSheps Posts: 562

    Thanks philippa...and well done you for rescuing the Goldie image

  • cornellycornelly Posts: 342

    Goldfinches are many this year, we only feed sunflower hearts in the feeders and it is a big attraction,imageWhat do you feed Sheps

  • ShepsSheps Posts: 562

    Hi Cornelly... I feed sunflower hearts too.

    Lovely picture ?

    Last edited: 12 November 2017 16:17:48

  • I’ve been thinking about the ‘tray’ options for my nyger feeder. It, along with several other feeders, hang from a tree above a bank. Unfortunately the spilt seeds, which are many, fall onto the grass bank and germinate causing a real mess.

    Before providing the nyger seeds we just could not attract Goldfinches at all and we had tried everything so I don’t want to do away with this feeder but would like to try and address the collateral damage.

  • Must admit I've never found the dropped nyger a problem but as the feeder post is in the lawn, any germinating seeds get chopped off by the mower on a fairly regular basis.

    Somewhat different on a bank tho.  Fairly easy to pull out the seedlings but time consuming I imagine.

  • That feeder with metal mesh and a saucer is just what we need and the picture of all those goldfinches feeding is lovely - just what we dream off on our feeders, are they available at the GC or is it a specialist type Sheps? Our nyger feeder drops seed but not only that, we have to keep shaking it as the seeds block the little feeder holes.

    We have given up with the peanut feeder, the birds just aren't interested in it anymore.  By far the most popular are the sunflower hearts at the moment.

  • ShepsSheps Posts: 562

    I stopped feeding nyger because of the seedlings, they would sprout up between the gaps in the paving and in the gravel, I just feed the Goldie's sunflower hearts now.

  • ShepsSheps Posts: 562

    Hi GD...you can buy the metal mesh feeder from GCs and B&Q stock them for about £12 each, but the metal tray was bought from Pets At Home for about £5.

    Also, you can buy the above from those well known on-line shopping sites.



    Hope this helps image

  • ShepsSheps Posts: 562

    Also, if anyone buys the same as mine in the picture, you need to make sure that there is a threaded nub in the bottom part of the feeder, otherwise the tray will not screw on.

    Mine came from B&Q and is branded as Peckish, but some of them come without the threaded fitting on the bottom so you need to check. 

  • cornellycornelly Posts: 342

    Get the seed and feeders from Little Peckers, good feeders and I buy seed in bulk, to get it cheaper, only feed sunflower hearts.

  • I stopped using trays under my bird feeders. Whilst they do reduce wastage, I found that they attracted wood pigeons who would sit on them and empty the feeder within hours. Squirrels would also sit on them and empty the feeder within minutes.

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