Forum home Wildlife gardening

Feeding birds - success with keeping out the bullies?

Presently, we have hanging nyjer seed, fat ball and sunflower heart feeders and two ground feeding trays, one of which we use for mealworms and the other for mixed seed or hearts.

The problem with our ground feeders is that they are so quickly taken over by pigeons and magpies which take a spot beside them and empty them, leaving nothing for our local blackbirds, robins and dunnocks.  Even the starlings don't get a look in before it's all gone.

What success have others had, in a garden with the above birds, in preserving something for the smaller birds?  The raised table next door has pigeons on it too so that won't work and, when I put a guardian cage over the ground feeders, nothing went for them.

I was wondering whether a raised table with a roof on it would work, in that magpies and pigeons would be too large to get into the gap.  But will blackbirds and dunnocks feed off a raised table?  I know the robins will be happy to.


  • philippasmith2philippasmith2 Posts: 2,931
    What you term as bullies are simply birds looking to feed their young .  You cannot really stop one bird from using your feeders however annoying you find it.
    Big birds pecking at the likes of fat blocks/peanuts etc. will leave bits on the ground for the smaller birds to hoover up .
    You can't pick and choose who visits your garden if you put feeders out.
    There are numerous threads on here which will give you a pointer towards the type of feeder you can use if you wish to try and eliminate certain birds - the Search facility should bring them up for you :)
  • ButtercupdaysButtercupdays Posts: 4,405
    edited May 2021
    I've suspended a wire mesh feed tray on thin wire and hang it from the branch of a small tree, near my back door.
    It is busy with all sorts of small birds including blackbirds, though the Dunnocks prefer to pick up the spillage from the other feeders. Most of them stay round the front of the house and poke about on the gravel yard or tidy up the duck food
    One of the stock doves has learned how to access it, but can't when it is windy, which is most of the time and it is not overly greedy. The other 2 are too nervous and are too busy flapping their wings to eat :) The jackdaws, magpies and crows have not even tried and don't usually come that close to the house anyway. Some individuals can and do visit the fat ball feeder, but I leave it only about a third full, so they have to work for it.
    The tray is also inaccessible to the rat that lives somewhere under the stone wall. The ducks make sure that very little other food is left for it either!
  • nick615nick615 Posts: 1,364
    We've never seen a squirrel in the 14 years we've been here.  I feed a small flock of feral pigeons with seed mix in the early mornings - 19 this morning - but they're content with foraging for bits the rest of the day, so no bother.  We do have fat ball and nijer feeders but, for small birds in general, the covered bird table on the left of the attached pic may be an option?  What it doesn't reveal is that all four sides are covered with pieces of an old fireguard, the side I need to open for replenishing food is hinged by electric cable clips plus a simple gate catch to secure it.  I cut away enough wire to allow the birds I wanted to enter, but not enough to give access to the 'poachers'.
  • AstraeusAstraeus Posts: 325
    Thank you all very much.

    I have no issue with feeding the magpies and the pigeons. In fact, I actively do so. But I don't want them to be able to gobble down two full trays of feed and leave nothing for the others. I'll look at a couple of the options above but it looks like a covered house and a hanging tray might be the way forward!

    @pansyface, have a look at this chap: if yours is Einstein, he has Galileo, Darwin, Euchimedes and more in his garden!
  • FlyDragonFlyDragon Posts: 834
    I scatter suet pellets and mealworm for the ground feeders so they have to forage for it.  The blackbirds and other smaller birds excel at that and the bigger ones can't hoover it all up straightaway so everybody gets a look in! 
  • WillowBarkWillowBark Posts: 236
    @pansyface Your tale of Albert made me laugh out loud! I can't help but have respect (and a few smiles) when wildlife outwits us like that. A lovely story.

    @Astraeus Glad to learn that the video-maker took safety into account, because I was a bit worried at first, but I have to say that that was some very fascinating watching. Such clever animals!
  • FireFire Posts: 17,116
    edited May 2021
    I am trying a kind of car boot sale, wide-spaced bird cage to try and feed my nesting wren. My jury is out at the moment - still tweaking.

  • FlyDragonFlyDragon Posts: 834
    @Astraeus thank you so much for posting that video, really cheered me up!
  • A slinky will prevent the squirrel from climbing up the pole. Squirrels cannot jump more than 4.50 feet from the ground so no problem. No trees nearby so no aerial acrobatics.
Sign In or Register to comment.