Helping Our Garden Birds Over the Winter
As the winter sets in the stocks of seedheads and berries are slowly depleting and the birds are craving for something to whet their appetite. It is well known that every winter many birds die of starvation and it can be easily be prevented by each householder doing their little bit. If you think that there aren’t many birds in your vicinity that proves that you have never put out bird food, because after a few days of putting any type of food for the birds in your garden you will see how many feathered visitors it will bring.
What type of bird feeder should I choose
I always have a few hanging bags for the birds, but this year I wished to go one step further. When I saw this Bird feeding edifice in Aldi, for only £7.99, I decided that this will be my sharing station. The feeding stations boasts three separate sides, giving my garden visitors the choice of having a three course meal at once or coming back and fro as many times a day as they wish, each time for a different treat!
Bird feeder to attract tits
One side has the regular small netted surround which is excellent for peanuts or sunflower seeds, this mainly attracts blue tits, great tits and coal tits, it is fun to watch their eating habits as they are so agile and they can swallow food with their body perched at any angle.
Bird feeder to attract finches
The other side has a plastic tube with small opening suitable for all types of small seeds and grains this side with its bar for a steady perch will attract gold finches and chaffinch as well – they are very dependent on seeds and only eat worms and insects in the breeding season.
Bird feeder to attract robbins
The third side has a large metal cage suitable for suet or fat balls this is especially liked by robins, firstly because they enjoy a more fatty diet like worms not just seeds, and also they find it difficult to feed through closed netting. They prefer to feed in a more upright position and are often found picking up the bits from the ground under a feeding station that have been scattered by other small feeding birds, robins with their unmistakable red breast have a perch and pounce attitude, so they will be the ones using your feeding station as an off licence!
Make sure you place your bird food near a window where you can watch from the warmth of the house and you will not miss out on the shy or quick birds that will not come if you are pottering around the garden. Nowadays all these feeds are available in any supermarket or pound-shop in the pet food aisle.
How to prevent squirrels from stealing food from bird feeders
The menace of bird feeders is the grey squirrel that has recently become so abundant all over Britain. It also feels the pinch in the cold winter and it will do anything to get at a bird feeding station. I have had plastic mesh bird feeders that have been totally shredded by the sharp teeth of a squirrel trying to access the peanuts inside and even metal ones have been gnawed away. (We tend to get very angry to see the squirrel stealing , is it because we don’t like them and associate them with rats, or is it just that we want to teach them a lesson not to look at somebody else’s plate ? – I wonder!)
The answer is to hang the bird feeder on a piece of elastic available from any haberdashery shop, as seen in the picture, in a place that is only accessible by climbing down the elastic. Wicked as it is to watch, the squirrel will place his paw on the elastic but since it stretches and keeps moving he does not feel it as a secure base and after a few tries he will go elsewhere.
Which is the best value bird feed?
If you are feeding birds in a big way and you would like to treat your birds to a top class meal, Notcutts are selling their 12.75kg bags of ‘Premium Sunflower Hearts’ at half price, reduced from£37.99 to £18.99. They also have reduced their 12.75Kg Wild Bird Seed Mix from £18.99 to £9.99. However, if you think that the birds won’t mind not getting a high street brand a 12.75Kg Wild Bird seed mix, can be bought at Aldi for just £4.99. I did not check it out, but when talking of a ‘mix’ the proportion of more expensive seeds could vary largely from one brand to another!
Always have a small bird bath or a topped up plate of water near the feeding station because everyone needs a drink after a good meal! In frosty weather pour a bit of water from the kettle to defrost the water early in the morning, and you will be thanked with a lively garden even in the depths of winter.
Good gardening, caring and sharing,
Boris Legarni .