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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 Isle of Wight.Posts: 3,601

    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: 525

    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 west central ScotlandPosts: 49,148

    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. 

    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

  • LynLyn DevonPosts: 21,144

    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: 3,531

    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: 968

    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: 347

    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 West YorkshirePosts: 1,315

    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.


  • ShepsSheps West YorkshirePosts: 1,315

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

  • cornellycornelly Posts: 968

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

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