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What do they put in those bird feeder balls?

I normally buy half coconuts filled with suet and seeds to feed the birds in the garden, but was not able to find them recently, so just put bird feeder balls out. Not only they stayed untouched by birds, but the one that got wet from rain dissolved to something resembling chalk. It’s not fat, it’s not seeds, it looks and smells disgusting and birds don’t eat it (even the fresh ones, not the one in the water). It literally looked like some chalk and sand when wet, not like fat and seeds. 
Admittedly it were not the most expensive feeder balls, just a supermarket own brand, but I really started wondering if they are not just not edible, but potentially harmful for birds? 



  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 52,184
    I've used cheapo ones from Home Bargains, and I've used good quality ones from a reputable supplier. They all get eaten with the same relish. 

    Some people do find they don't get eaten, but it may depend on the birds you have in your area, as well as the ingredients. If in doubt, it's better to buy from a good supplier, and only put out a small amount to see if it gets eaten.
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
  • LynLyn Posts: 21,960
    Fat balls here mainly get eaten by ground feeders so I chop them up in the ground food.
    the birds prefer the suet slices which I buy from Wilco,  very good value and if you buy enough in one go, the postage equals out.
    I buy several other items at the same time and they usually do a free postage over a certain amount. 
    Gardening on the wild, windy west side of Dartmoor. 

  • The birds around here just don’t eat the suet balls  …. I got stuck with a load of them and gave them to @WonkyWomble who lives 40 miles away. The birds in her garden devoured them in a matter of days. 

    The goldfinches here won’t eat nyger seeds … my brother lives 40 miles away … the goldfinches there love the nyger seed. 

    I think some birds are just picky 🙄 

    Gardening in Central Norfolk on improved gritty moraine over chalk ... free-draining.

  • B3B3 Posts: 25,256
    My sunflower seeds are going slowly but there's no goldfinches about at the moment.
    Pigeons have to be almost as patient as vultures. They potter about under the feeder waiting waiting waiting.
    They're flattening the grass and daisies are taking over. Result!
    In London. Keen but lazy.
  • punkdocpunkdoc Posts: 13,732
    Our Goldfinches don't eat the nyger seed either, but the bullfinches love them.
    The Goldfinches do like the Teasels which I grew for them.
    How can you lie there and think of England
    When you don't even know who's in the team

    S.Yorkshire/Derbyshire border
  • fidgetbonesfidgetbones Posts: 16,706
    I gave up with nyger seed. Fat blocks go faster in cold weather  but I hate it when they go moulldy after getting wet.  Sunflower kernels are the perennial favourite round here.
  • Jenny_AsterJenny_Aster Posts: 914
    edited December 2021
    It can be a bit of a worry, unless you know which country the feed has come from and what are their standards. 

    I used to buy those hide chewy 'bones' for my dog, that was until I read on a dog forum that a lot of these bones come from China where the hide is treated with arsenic. I don't know how wide spread a problem this is, I've got no evidence except comments from Google, but since then I've stopped buying them.

    Unacceptable products do sneak in, wasn't it a couple of years ago when a major store was selling bobble hats, unbeknown to the store the 'bobble' was made with dog fur?
    Trying to be the person my dog thinks I am! 

    Cambridgeshire/Norfolk border.
  • LynLyn Posts: 21,960
    I suppose we don’t know half of what China does,  I buy a lot of cuttlefish which has to be cleaned properly, never buy from China.  Probably soaked in bleach. 
    Gardening on the wild, windy west side of Dartmoor. 

  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 52,184
    When we started getting goldfinches visiting regularly, I followed the advice here on the forum about nyger seed versus sunflower hearts. I'm glad I didn't bother forking out for them, and the special feeder! They're perfectly happy with the s'flower hearts, and the stuff they chuck out gets eaten by the ground feeders. 
    We have a constant parade of blue, coal and great tits, robins and sparrows which all get wired into the suet. The starlings also make a beeline for them.  I keep one attached at ground level too, for the blackbirds, thrushes and dunnocks etc. I use the block ones as well as they balls and they don't seem to have a preference. Like @Lyn , I often chop some of those block ones up and put them in among the shrubs.   
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
  • Goldies here will eat both Nyger and sunflower hearts - often difficult to tell which they really prefer as the sunflower are popular with practically everyone !
    The various Fat blocks seem preferable to the balls but that could also depend on the makeup I think.
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