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Does anyone have any tips on how to encourage small birds into our garden? We put food on the bird table but it just rots! Fat balls, peanuts and seeds are all left untouched. We have moved the bird table next to a tree to encourage activity, but to no avail! I've also installed a small wildlife pond, but that has been quite unsuccessful so far. We do live in a very urban environment- could that be it?



  • Ladybird4Ladybird4 Third rock from the sunPosts: 35,498

    Hi TyCerrig. How long has your bird table been in place as little birds can sometimes be hesitant about something new in their area? I have to confess that my birds do not seem to like fat balls at all but having spoken with others on the forum I may have just got a poor lot. I would say be patient. Once the birds find the food they will keep coming back. Concentrate on just one food to start with. Have you any seed feeders you could hang from either the bottom of the table or the tree? Wildlife will find the pond too.

    Cacoethes: An irresistible urge to do something inadvisable
  • fidgetbonesfidgetbones Derbyshire but with a Nottinghamshire postcode. Posts: 16,463

    I would try a feeder with sunflower hearts only. Once you get birds eating that, introduce a fat block or two. Niger seeds for goldfinches are wonderful, but goldfinches only seem to appear at well populated feeding stations, so I would leave those for a bit.

     The quality of the food is a big factor. I have very fussy birds.  I threw some old bread out, and they just turned their beaks up at it. image

  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 49,041

    I'd agree with Ladybird here too - patience is a big part of it, and also agree wiht fidget that good quality food is the best way to go.It's a subject that gets discussed frequently, and the general consensus is to get a no mess mix which will attract lots of small birds and is far more economic in the long run. You could also use a robin mix - it's usually quite similar.

    The hanging feeders will attract the tit family more than food on a bird table in my experience. You're certainly doing the right thing if you have food near the cover of a tree, but try a hanging one in there and see if it makes a difference. Small quantities of fresh food so that it doesn't get mouldy, and clean the feeders regularly if food isn't eaten. I have spares so that I can swap them and wash them accordingly. Having the water available is great, and make sure you have some suitable planting which will provide all sorts of food - seeds and berries for instance. It's a big picture rather than just one or two things.

    Keep trying - I'm sure you'll get some in but it might be next winter before you see a change. I had almost no birds when I moved here a few years ago as the garden was very sterile. It's full of birds now image

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

  • Thanks for the great tips. I do have a problem with neighbours cats - there seems to be millions of them! I fear they may be scaring the small birds away. Unfortunately I seem to have no problem attracting pigeons, but I don't want them - maybe I shouldn't be so fussy. I shall keep persevering and being patient, but hanging s feeder in the tree in the meantime is something I will try. I've also tended to buy the cheaper food too, so perhaps that's something else I'll look at. Hoping for a friendly frog to come make a home in my wildlife pond too - it all looks so simple when Monty does it!!

  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 49,041

    The cheaper feed is usually full of wheat which attracts the pigeons. The no mess mixes are worth having as there's no waste  image

    Cats are a common problem - I bought a water scarecrow and it's made a huge difference as nothing else worked. Once birds have the right food and habitat, and feel safe, thye'll come in regularly. Being consistent with the food is important too.  I also built a cage round a couple of feeders which means the little birds get peace to have their share of food. The bigger birds can have the food I put on on the ground so everyone's happy. image

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

  • That would be good to see too! Does anyone have any ideas on how to attract wildlife to the pond? I've created a 'beach' and used lots of pieces of wood and a little bit of planting. 

  • RedwingRedwing SussexPosts: 1,305

    You say you live in a very urban environment; I think this may be your problem. Are there any parks locally or other open spaces? What species do you see in the locality? If there are tits, finches and house sparrows locally, I would have thought they could be encouraged to come to your garden too but if there are no birds around, then you have a problem. A bit more info would help.

    Based in Sussex, I garden to encourage as many birds to my garden as possible.
  • We live in the middle of a housing estate and the only birds I can attract to our garden are pigeons and sometimes rooks! We do get the occasional visit from a blue tit, sparrow or robin, but it is very rare. This is also the range we see in the locality, although my wife did once see a couple of goldfinches sitting on a goal post in someones garden! I had hoped the wildlife pond would help, but that appears to be largely unvisited also!

  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 49,041

    TyCerrig - what other planting do you have in your garden, and what do other neighbours have? That's important as birds and other wildlife need a variety of things to make them come in. Even if there's only a few other householders with suitable habitats, you should be able to encourage more birds in. 

    Don't despair - put small amounts of good quality food out, and be consistent. If you can encourage a few neighbours to do the same, it will gradually improve. Even in the middle of cities and towns, there are huge bird populations - it's just a matter of giving them what they need. Some simple annual and perennial flowers which attract insects (the good and the bad!) will bring in those bird predators to feed on them. Shrubs, trees and grasses all provide food or shelter. Early spring bulbs offer nectar for early bees and insects, and all these things add up over time, as you will be creating a little lifecycle in your garden. Your beach will get used by birds and insects for drinking and bathing, once they start coming in regularly  image

    My cage feeder is simply a step ahead of the squirrel proof cages which are readily available, and it was created because we get a lot of magpies, starlings and jackdaws which swarm in and hoover up all the food on the ground, leaving the little ground feeding birds like dunnocks and robins with very little. Open feeders were just as bad, as the starlings are like plagues of locusts!

    The robins and dunnocks quickly learned how to 'perch' to access the feeding ports (I've added more branches to make it easier)  It also stops the squirrels. It needs to be properly constructed as it was a quick fix at the time, and will get a proper roof as well as timber supports. It's just the shelves from one of those little growhouses wired together, and then fixed to the fence.The front opens to allow me access.


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

  • Fairygirl, I've tried to plant a variety of shrubs but it is a work in progress, so will try to increase the variety in 2017 to make it as bird friendly as possible. I put 2 small raised veg in last year also. Liking the cage idea, that would certainly keep out the pigeons and rooks! Might plagiarise your idea!!

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