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How much bird food do burds eat a day?



  • I bought wild bird seed from Homebase for a plastic bird feeder and the birds haven't touched it. I put another bird feeder full of peanuts and that emptied very quickly, but I suspect the local squirrel was involved - are they good at getting nuts out of a wire mesh bird feeder? I don't have a good view of my garden from the house, so I don't know if any birds had some nuts or it was just the squirrel.

    There are so many cats on my street, so perhaps my garden has failed the birds' risk assessment image
  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 50,221

    Squirrels will easily empty those feeders 30x7. Cats are a huge problem when trying to get birds in. They need to feel safe. I have a cage which I put feeders inside for the small birds, which has been very successful, but I've had to spend considerable time, money and energy cat proofing the garden. I also have a large conifer at the rear of the garden which provides good cover for birds as they come in and out.

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

    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
  • ObelixxObelixx Posts: 28,818

    Saw a funny sight today.  The woodpeckers have a favourite peanut feeder which hangs on a nail on a wooden post so doesn't swing around in the wind.   It was nearly empty so, rather than go for a swinging feeder this bird flew to the ground to swipe peanuts from the mixed winter seed on the ground.   Looked bizarre as its feet don't seem adapted for the ground.

    We have always had cats so we constructed a high bar supported on two vertical posts and I hang peanut and fat ball feeders from it as well as those blocks with insects or fruit in the mix.   Ground feeders get fed below on a large stone slab which is easy to hose down every now and then.  Apart from a few alpine strawberries there is no immediate ground cover for pussies to hide in and there is a twisted hazel close by into which the birds can flee when the sparrow hawk dives.    

    I have other peanut feeders hung here and there near roses so the birds can hoover up the greenfly whilst they're queuing for peanuts.   Works for me.  No spraying and happy birds and roses.


    Vendée - 20kms from Atlantic coast.
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • maureen60maureen60 Posts: 193
    Fairy girl, how do you cat proof your garden? I feed using sunflower hearts, mealworms, Niger seed and home made fatballs.

    I have lots of birds, but also cats prowling around.

    At weekends I borrow my brothers Kack Russell's which keep the cats away, but during the week they return
  • ObelixxObelixx Posts: 28,818

    You can't cat proof it unless you have a resident dog which is out in the garden all day which is not really an option.

    You can take steps to make sure the bird feeding areas are safe, as I have, and that there is shelter for birds when predators are about - not just cats.   You could also invest in a Water Scarecrow which is very effective for deterring cats but would need to be site the sensors and spray away from bird feeders in case they trigger it.

    Vendée - 20kms from Atlantic coast.
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • Think I'm going to have to put seconds out today - the garden seems unusually infested with bird lifeimage

    Has anyone tried flutter butter or similar? I was wondering if a bird might get stuck in the jar..?image 

    Wearside, England.
  • LesleyKLesleyK Posts: 4,029

    I've never heard of that Victoria - will look it up.  It is getting cooler and more birds are coming into the garden here tooimage.  We had a woodpecker on the nut feeder this morning and the yellowhammers have come out of hidingimage.

  • Those are nice birds Lesleyimage I haven't seen either since I left Northumberland...

    Wearside, England.
  • BoaterBoater Posts: 241

    Apart from the hungriness of the birds, I have noticed lots of other factors:

    Some feeders seem to be able to feed at a faster rate than others - take the regular plastic seed feeders with a couple of openings at the bottom for example - the mid price ones I had could be emptied about twice as fast as the really cheap ones I got after I suffered some vandalism.

    Sunflower hearts in a plastic seed feeder go down much more quickly than in a wire mesh seed feeder, even though many more birds can feed simultaneously on the mesh feeder - presumably it is harder for them to get each seed out?

    In high winds some feeders will accidentally drop seed when swinging more than others - the squirrel buster is particularly bad for losing seed quickly in high winds because it essentially dispenses seeds into an open tray, with a squirrel proof shroud around. The shroud is spring loaded to the weight of a squrirrel, so if a squirrel (or big bird like pigeon or jackdaw) climbs on it slides down and covers the tray, but when the feeder is swinging in the wind, the tray is open....

    A squirrel will make short work of emptying most feeders. Plastic ones they just chew around the openings to get seed faster - if you stop them doing that they soon work out how to tip them and empty them from the lids, or knock them off the hanger to do the same. I use some soft plant tie wire to secure the lids of my feeders now to combat the squirrels.

    Jackdaws are another issue for me - corvids are smart so maybe not limited to jackdaws. Mine have worked out that if they can't get to seed they can swing the feeders until the seed spills out - even the squirrel buster if they can get it swinging without putting weight on the shroud!

    Everything goes for fatballs, I have seen as many as 6 jackdaws or maybe 12 starlings on a small fat ball feeder ripping the balls to pieces in no time (other birds pick up the scraps off the ground) - but if there are only sparrows and tits about the balls can last for days!

    Weather makes a big difference - I have seen large numbers of birds trying to get onto the feeders in windy and/or wet conditions, but they don't stick around for as long and presumably head off for shelter once they have taken on enough calories to get through another day/night?

    Time of day is also a factor - here in Scotland we have short days in winter especially when it is overcast, so the birds stop feeding and head off to roost quite early and the seed lasts longer than in the spring and autumn. If I fill a feeder after about 3pm it likely won't get touched until the following morning, so if I am filling in the morning and get up late, that can greatly reduce the number of feeding hours the birds have (if the weather is good I try to fill them at night to maximise feeding hours).

    I have given up with plastic feeders, too expensive if there is just one squirrel about! I have wire feeders for fat balls and peanuts (go down slowly as long as the lid is squirrel proofed), wire mesh feeder for sunflower hearts (can take other seed), and I use the squirrel buster for mixed seed, which has the mesh shroud completely protecting the inner plastic container.

    I get: house sparrows, chaffinches, blue tits, great tits, goldfinches, robins, blackbirds, starlings, jackdaws, wood pigeons, collared doves, siskins (some of those just collect spillage from the ground).

    And yes, in the right conditions, it is not unusual for a feeder or sunflower hearts to go in less than a day!

  • We had 2 or maybe more gold crests bobbing about with the blue and great tits the other day…never had them in the garden before!  Didn't see them on the feeders just flitting around on the tree right outside the kitchen window…such a privilege!


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