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How to attract different birds to feeders

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 girlymonkey 16 Jun 2020

I have a selection of bird feeders in the garden, and tend to supply a mixed seed feed, peanuts, fat balls and sometimes mealworms. We attract hoards of starlings, quite a lot of sparrows and a few pigeons and a pair of blackbirds. Would providing different food attract different birds, or is this the best I can expect in a housing estate in Stirling? What other things would you include to get more variety?

 Durbs 16 Jun 2020
In reply to girlymonkey:

First thing to check is whether you've seen any other types of birds around? 

But yes, definitely some species are very fussy eaters - our 3 feeders (mixed, peanut, fat balls) all hang from the same tree, which regularly has loads of goldfinches on it, but they never use the feeders (niger seeds apparently are what they want ). Robins will only come out for mealworm usually, long-tailed tits only use the fat balls.

Might also be the position of it; some birds are more nervous and won't use a feeder out in the open (preferring to flit to-and-from a tree/bush), others apparently the reverse, enjoying the risk of sparrowhawks perhaps?

 Lankyman 16 Jun 2020
In reply to girlymonkey:

> What other things would you include to get more variety?

A scattering of roadkill would attract more buzzards.

2
 mondite 16 Jun 2020
In reply to Lankyman:

> A scattering of roadkill would attract more buzzards.

I have been semi tempted by that for the local red kites.

Durbs has covered the main points. Something you might want to look at as well is a table/ground station (with a cage to protect them) depending on the local rats etc. That can attract in those which normally dodge the hanging feeders.

niger seed is good for the fussy sods.

 nikoid 16 Jun 2020
In reply to girlymonkey:

Sunflower seed hearts are going down a storm at the moment. Everyone seems to like them, green finches, gold finches as well as more common visitors such as sparrows, robins, tits etc.

For some reason the peanuts are hardly being touched, usually a favourite with the woodpeckers, but haven't seen one for a while.

 wbo2 16 Jun 2020
In reply to girlymonkey: Biggest factor is what's around.  We're overrun with wheatears at the moment (slight exaggeration but there seem more than normal).  How far to your nearest woodland, or similar?  Probably not too far, but....

I'd also note that it's summer - why would a bird leave it's habitat , where food is currently abundant, and poke around in a housing estate just in case?  I don't even feed at this time of year - whatever  I provide is likely inferior to a natural diet

Post edited at 09:46
 girlymonkey 16 Jun 2020
In reply to mondite:

Rats are a big concern for us, we had an 18 month infestation in the house when we moved in and then they found another entry point a year later. Our feeders all hang from a metal pole to make them rat proof and I don't think there's anything I can do differently in that respect.

I think the mixed seed has Niger seeds in it.

 girlymonkey 16 Jun 2020
In reply to nikoid:

Will try some sunflower seed hearts, thanks. Yes, our peanuts are the least popular. They do get eaten, but more slowly than anything else.

 girlymonkey 16 Jun 2020
In reply to wbo2:

We have woods a couple of streets away, but they are totally surrounded by housing so maybe there just isn't much around. Not sure.  Maybe I will just have to enjoy the starlings and sparrows!

 Durbs 16 Jun 2020
In reply to girlymonkey:

I was told by my mum that peanuts in their husk are good over winter, but you should swap to husk-less in spring/summer as the papery stuff can quickly introduce mold to nests...? Not sure if the birds are aware so avoid it, but certainly we've gone from filling it weekly to monthly. 

Oh as wbo2 says - there's loads of natural fruit and seeds around at the moment, so theirs just less demand.

 mondite 16 Jun 2020
In reply to girlymonkey:

> I think the mixed seed has Niger seeds in it.

Probably not. They are extremely small and normally need a special feeder since they spill out of anything else.

 girlymonkey 16 Jun 2020
In reply to mondite:

There is certainly something small and black through it. Might be something else though. Our seed feeder is a solid plastic cylinder with a scooped ring around the bottom where the feeding holes are so the small stuff works fine in it. 

 brianjcooper 16 Jun 2020
In reply to girlymonkey:

> Rats are a big concern for us.

I had a rat problem for a while until the pest controller politely told my neighbour, who had bird feeders, that the seed 'spillage' that was landing on the ground was attracting them. Make sure the feeders have a tray underneath to avoid this.  

 The Lemming 16 Jun 2020
In reply to girlymonkey:

I use to put out wild bird seed, but in the end settled on sunflower hearts and sunflower seeds. This seems to get me all sorts of birds.

I throw down some meal-worms but only use sewit and fat balls in the winter because I hate Starlings.

Sadly the Goldfinches bullied out the sparrows years ago. I used to have 20-30 mobbing the garden in the summer, now I get maybe one or two sparrows a year.

1
 Tom V 16 Jun 2020
In reply to The Lemming:

I like starlings. My late father in law referred to them dismissively as"sheps". I 've just looked it up now and it's a shortened version of "shepstare", a lot of the references quoting a section in Izaak Walton's "Compleat Angler" about  using a quill off a "shepstare's" wing. Their plumage is beautiful in some lights.

They are a bit ebullient in the garden but a flock swirling around in the sky is one of the absolute wonders of the natural world.

 kathrync 16 Jun 2020
In reply to girlymonkey:

Three factors:

  1. What is already in the area.  You are unlikely to get any birds that are not in the area anyway.  Also, predators might be a problem. You mentioned rats. I had almost no garden birds for 3 months last year because of a sparrowhawk nesting in the area.
  2. Variety of food.  Cater for seed, fruit and insect eaters. If you have goldfinches or siskins in the area and want them to come, a dedicated nyger seed feeder is a better option than nyger in a seed mix. For fat, I have more luck with pellets than balls, although I put both out. Fat mixed with mealworms or fruit tends to go down best. Use a variety of feeders too as different birds prefer to feed in different ways (some perch, some cling etc).
  3. Variety of locations. Provide a mix of hanging and ground feeders. Some birds such as robins, dunnocks and blackbirds prefer to feed off the ground and don't really like hanging feeders. Also, make sure there is cover near by (bushes or something) as many birds prefer to make a dash and grab what they want rather than hanging around in the open (particularly dunnocks and bluetits). Different birds have different preferences and may be territorial, so spread feeders around a bit.

Also, birds are more likely to eat if they have fresh water close by so a bird bath is worthwhile. I put out a nyger seed feeder, a seed mix in a seed feeder, a mix of sunflower seed hearts, fruity fat pellets and mealworms in a nibble feeder, a mix of insect-y and fruity fat nibbles in a nibble feeder, insect-y fat balls in a fat ball feeder, and a ground feeder with a seed mix, mealworms and sometimes fat. I don't put peanuts out any more, nothing was really taking them. I regularly get assorted corvids, robins, blackbirds, sparrows, dunnocks, starlings, bluetits, great tits, coal tits and goldfinches, and quite a variety of pigeons.  More rarely, I see chaffinches, woodpeckers, collared doves and a sparrowhawk. I live in a housing estate in the Milngavie area - I can't imagine a Stirling housing estate is too different!

Post edited at 13:28
In reply to brianjcooper:

> Make sure the feeders have a tray underneath to avoid this.  

We have hens that take care of this.  At busy times they just stand underneath with their beaks open.

 mondite 16 Jun 2020
In reply to The Lemming:

>  I used to have 20-30 mobbing the garden in the summer, now I get maybe one or two sparrows a year.

All "sparrows" have had a massive drop in numbers for reasons which are unclear. I am happy they seem to be rebounding a bit and have a few hanging around the feeder.

Starlings have also had a drop in numbers so it is nice to see them in the garden although as Tom V says they can be rather loud. That said when they are bored and doing mimicry its impressive. They are absolutely gorgeous when seen through a long lens or binoculars.

There doesnt seem to be much in sunflower hearts vs whole seeds in terms of attracting different birds but the hearts have the advantage of avoiding the mess of the husks.

 kathrync 16 Jun 2020
In reply to mondite:

> I have been semi tempted by that for the local red kites.

Dad lives in the Chilterns - his neighbour occasionally puts out food for the kites.  I am not sure I would do it regularly, but it is worth doing once because it is incredible to watch them coming down for it!

 Jon Greengrass 16 Jun 2020
In reply to girlymonkey:

Keep feeding the sparrows and you might get a sparrowhawk.

We put out the same sort of food as you but despite having a cat get a much larger variety

In the last year we've had Blue Tits, Coal Tits, Great Tits, Long Tailed tits,  Chaffinches, Bullfinches, Goldfinches, Greenfinches, Song Thrushes, Wrens, Rooks, Crows, Jackdaws, Dunnocks, Siskins, Robins, Pied Wagtails, Starlings, Collared Doves, Woodpigeon, Blackbirds, Brambling, Yellowhammers, Sparrowhawk and a Great spotted Woodpecker

I think this is probably due to our rural location offering a greater variety of habitats and nesting sites nearby, when we lived on the coast all we ever got was seagulls. Do you have any nestboxes, hedges, is your house high enough for a swiftbox?

 kathrync 16 Jun 2020
In reply to girlymonkey:

It's also worth noting that you probably have more birds coming than you are aware of.  Some only have a very small feeding window each day so unless you happen to be watching at that time you won't see them. I am not doing anything different, but I have seen many more since March just because I have been working at home instead of in the office. Most activity is at dusk and dawn - between times it is mostly sparrows and starlings.

In reply to girlymonkey:

Its an interesting question.

I have fat balls and pellets, a couple of sunflower heart feeders (as these the most popular), peanuts (which are not so popular, a table and a small open feeder which I put loose seeds in and mealworms.  I have a small drinking station too.

I see a reasonable array of birds but they always drop off at this time of year and when I watch them, as I have been today, there is a lot of pecking of the foliage undersides which must be a range of invertebrates so all I can assume is that they are full of insectily goodness and only visit me for a top up. 

 sg 16 Jun 2020
In reply to girlymonkey:

Looks like most of the key points have already been covered but it's worth bearing in mind that most species will show a certain amount of seasonality as well and for some species they may be less abundant in gardens at the moment... Food sources for young and adults can vary so lots of species may (partially) disperse away to more wooded and rural locations in summer, switching to a higher proportion of live invertebrate food if it's less available in urban areas. Or they may just switch the proportion of time they're foraging in specific locations - less in gardens, more elsewhere, depending on the habitat compositions of 'gardens' and 'elsewhere' obviously. 

Basically what DrunkenBakers said but more rambling...

(I don't but), if you only put out one food it should probably be sunflower hearts - over the last 20 years most suppliers have realised that they're the most 'versatile' and 'efficient' option for bird feeders. For at least part of the year the vast majority of 'garden' species will happily munch on them and having them 'de-shelled' before they even leave the processing plant makes life easier for everyone, including the birds who increase their foraging efficiency (they're relatively much more calorific than most things). I'd say with some confidence that everything else in a 'wild bird mix' would come second best in 'single transferable vote' poll of all birds visiting UK gardens.

Post edited at 14:23
 kathrync 16 Jun 2020
In reply to sg:

> (I don't but), if you only put out one food it should probably be sunflower hearts - over the last 20 years most suppliers have realised that they're the most 'versatile' and 'efficient' option for bird feeders.

I'm not going to disagree as this is common wisdom, but from personal experience sunflower seed hearts always get left until last! Mealworms, millet and whole sunflower seeds are far more popular round here!

Agree about seasonality - my visitors have definitely dropped off over the last couple of weeks. Lots of fledglings/juveniles probably responsible for changed behaviour.

 hang_about 16 Jun 2020
In reply to girlymonkey:

Our residents great tits systematically empty the niger seed feeder. The stash them, one at a time.

You do need the right feeder as they spill out otherwise. We wondered how two birds could empty a feeder every day.

Sparrows galore on the general seed feeders. Fat balls get pecked at a bit.

Fat pigeons on the ground mopping up leftovers.

In reply to mondite:

> All "sparrows" have had a massive drop in numbers for reasons which are unclear. 

Most of them have moved in with us.  We have an old house with plenty of gaps under the tiles and ivy-covered walls, and then a barn that they seem to think was constructed especially for them (with chicken feed available 24/7). 

Other residents include pied wagtails, goldfinches, blackbirds, blue tits, great tits, coal tits (a big family of grubby-looking youngsters just now), robins (in the barn and the garage), and reed buntings by the pond.  

Also now getting regular visits from the sparrowhawk but there's more than enough to go round.

 brianjcooper 16 Jun 2020
In reply to Dave Garnett:

> We have hens that take care of this.  At busy times they just stand underneath with their beaks open.

Brilliant! 

In reply to girlymonkey:

There is a well known oxidation reaction. 

Niger seeds + Oxygen = Goldfinches

Simple chemistry. 

 sg 16 Jun 2020
In reply to kathrync:

> I'm not going to disagree as this is common wisdom, but from personal experience sunflower seed hearts always get left until last! Mealworms, millet and whole sunflower seeds are far more popular round here!

You might well be right and it's just my vegan bias showing! I do put out mealworms during the summer (and indeed the young blue tits have probably gone through them quicker than the sunflower hearts in the last few weeks) but fat balls (even suet ones, if I can bring myself!) tend to hang around longer here and millet seems to be regarded as almost worthless! Overall I'm sure my STV poll would come true in my garden (Oxford) at least! Suppliers never used to bother with hearts just whole sunflowers and mixes. In fact back in the day there was little available apart from peanuts and 'budgie-style' millet based mixes. I guess it's quite possible that there is significant regional variation that builds up between communities in terms of diet preferences. That could be down to foraging patterns within family groups and many other local factors like the species mix in an area and what each species is selecting. Given the obvious dominance patterns in most garden bird tables (with certain species getting 'first dibs') it can be difficult to tell. The feeding rate of a marauding flock of starlings must be many, many times that of semi-resident blue tit family but it's also more sporadic. And if a squirrel can get to the bird table it's all over in hours!

> Agree about seasonality - my visitors have definitely dropped off over the last couple of weeks. Lots of fledglings/juveniles probably responsible for changed behaviour.

Spending more time gazing out of the window during lockdown to break up the marking tedium I've seen lots of interesting 'behavioural development' in young blue tits especially. They appear to have to learn how to manage certain food items; having presumably been given mostly live invertebrates in the nest it looks like they're a bit puzzled when they first start manipulating seeds. And they tend to hang around on the feeder / table longer than wiser adults who make their foraging trips out of the nearby but safely elevated shrubbery as efficient as possible!

Sorry, idle musings to distract from work but there must be a few research projects in there somewhere!

Post edited at 15:54
 The Lemming 16 Jun 2020
In reply to mondite:

>  There doesnt seem to be much in sunflower hearts vs whole seeds in terms of attracting different birds but the hearts have the advantage of avoiding the mess of the husks.

I'll pass that onto the birds that only stick to the seeds rather than the hearts.

1
 kathrync 16 Jun 2020
In reply to sg:

> I do put out mealworms during the summer (and indeed the young blue tits have probably gone through them quicker than the sunflower hearts in the last few weeks) but fat balls (even suet ones, if I can bring myself!) tend to hang around longer here and millet seems to be regarded as almost worthless!

Fat balls go quite slowly here, but you can buy fat pellets to put in peanut feeders and they barely last 15 mins! Especially the ones with bits of mealworm in them! I am sure that different people will experience different things though depending on what is in their area and in what ratios and as you suggest with potential community biases.

> Spending more time gazing out of the window during lockdown to break up the marking tedium I've seen lots of interesting 'behavioural development' in young blue tits especially. They appear to have to learn how to manage certain food items; having presumably been given mostly live invertebrates in the nest it looks like they're a bit puzzled when they first start manipulating seeds. And they tend to hang around on the feeder / table longer than wiser adults who make their foraging trips out of the nearby but safely elevated shrubbery as efficient as possible!

Yes, I have been enjoying watching the hordes of fledgling starlings over the last couple of weeks.  Learning about manipulating food, but also learning things like alighting on the apex of my greenhouse is fine but the glass panes are a little slippery!

 mondite 16 Jun 2020
In reply to kathrync:

> Yes, I have been enjoying watching the hordes of fledgling starlings over the last couple of weeks. 

I did like how they would sit next to the feeder still demanding for the parents to feed them despite being about the same size.

 kathrync 16 Jun 2020
In reply to mondite:

> I did like how they would sit next to the feeder still demanding for the parents to feed them despite being about the same size.

Yep, that amuses me too

In reply to girlymonkey:

What cover have you got in your garden?  Small garden birds need somewhere to hang out, observe from and hide in.  An evergreen is good for winter.  What most folk say about seeds is good info, the tray to catch stuff so rats don’t get it is essential. But, if you can get a few of your neighbours feeding then you can establish enough of a feeding area to draw them in.

Put a few nest boxes up. House Sparrow reduction is almost totally down to lack of nest space (not many gaps beer roof slates, raves etc). 
We had a very barren garden, and we don’t feed them, but a good cover of the eco shrubs and next doors feeding regime has worked wonders. 

 Martin W 16 Jun 2020
In reply to nikoid:

> Sunflower seed hearts are going down a storm at the moment. Everyone seems to like them, green finches, gold finches as well as more common visitors such as sparrows, robins, tits etc.

Same here.  I gave up on niger seed a while back as the goldfinches barely seemed to touch it, much preferring the sunflower hearts.  This past couple of weeks I've seen tits, greenfinch, siskin and robins taking the sunflower hearts.  That was after moving the feeder from its previous location to somewhere a few yards further from the house, but still reasonably close to cover (but not too close otherwise the local squirrel can jump from the shrubs on to the feeders, completely bypassing the baffle lower down the pole.  Grr...)

As others have said, a benefit of the sunflower hearts is that you don't get the husks littering your lawn.  I have another seed feeder which hangs from a lower branch on our rowan: I put normal seed mix in that because the ground beneath it is hidden behind low-growing border plants so the detritus isn't offensive to the eye.  That feeder mainly attracts house sparrows.  I'd always regarded them as being table feeders but there you go.

Also as advised by others, what you get coming to your feeders will depend partly on what species are actually found in the surrounding area.  In Stirling, you're unlikely to attract a golden eagle just by leaving a deer carcass on the lawn.  We get very occasional visits on our peanut feeder from greater spotted woodpeckers, but there aren't any in the immediate area so the ones that do drop in are likely youngsters or displaced adults looking to establish a territory of their own somewhere, and just taking advantage of the avian equivalent of a caff in a layby as they're on their way through to somewhere else.

We do get a fair few jackdaws.  The houses in this area were built at the time when a fireplace in the sitting room was still a standard feature, but most of them aren't used and a number of those properties have unprotected chimneys which the jackdaws love to nest in.  They do come to the feeders but they're not exactly ideally physically adapted to making use of hanging feeders.  They seem to get the best results hanging from on the fat block feeder, which I don't grudge them because not many of the smaller birds seem to like it as much as the other feeders.

 Martin W 16 Jun 2020

In reply to mondite:

> I did like how they would sit next to the feeder still demanding for the parents to feed them despite being about the same size.

To my eye, recently fledged starlings almost appear to be fractionally larger than the adults.  I think that's because they still have some downy feathers under the outer feathers, whereas adult starlings have much sleeker plumage.

As noted above, starlings are in trouble at the moment - they're on the UK red list, as is the house sparrow.  I am very pleased to have both species regularly visiting my garden.  I love the way that house sparrows seem to like to meet up in a bit of hedgerow and make a cacophonous racket chirping away to each other.  And I find starlings very characterful, plus their plumage is gorgeous.

In reply to girlymonkey:

Sunflower hearts seem very popular. Also suet squares attract the occasional great spotted woodpecker as well as tits. 

Fat balls seem to be largely ignored so dont use them now.

Originally used niger seed to attract goldfinches but now get lots on the sun flower hearts so dont bother with niger any more.

Steve

 girlymonkey 16 Jun 2020
In reply to girlymonkey:

Thanks folks, sounds like of all the things I can change, it's sunflower hearts that is going to be the biggest thing. Will give them a go and see what we get 😊

 wbo2 16 Jun 2020
In reply to girlymonkey:  don't knock sparrows!! Super little finches 

 cb294 17 Jun 2020
In reply to girlymonkey:

Dead horse --> vultures

 kathrync 17 Jun 2020
In reply to Martin W:

> We do get a fair few jackdaws.  The houses in this area were built at the time when a fireplace in the sitting room was still a standard feature, but most of them aren't used and a number of those properties have unprotected chimneys which the jackdaws love to nest in.  They do come to the feeders but they're not exactly ideally physically adapted to making use of hanging feeders.  They seem to get the best results hanging from on the fat block feeder, which I don't grudge them because not many of the smaller birds seem to like it as much as the other feeders.

We have massive flocks of jackdaws here. I am not sure where they actually roost, but every dawn and dusk they congregate in their hundreds in a stand of trees further up the street or on a house roof, then all take off together and fly around calling for about 10 mins or so before dispersing or going to roost. It's very impressive (and also impressively loud if they happen to choose your house that day).  Apparently the phenomenon is known as a "clattering".

I found they were quite adept at coordinating to take food from my feeders.  One will perch on the feeder and swing around so that it spills stuff everywhere and the others will hoover up everything that falls.  I put squirrel cages on them which helps a bit - they find it hard to completely decimate them now, but they still get a fair amount. It's fun to watch them though - and they are great birds when they feel playful. During the beast from the east, they were having fun sledging on my shed roof!

Post edited at 09:23
In reply to kathrync:

Crow Country by Mark Cocker is an interesting read - it refers to the mutual behaviour of Rooks & Jackdaws in roosting - set in Norfolk.

 kathrync 17 Jun 2020
In reply to keith-ratcliffe:

Thanks, I'll have a look at that!

 girlymonkey 17 Jun 2020
In reply to kathrync:

> It's also worth noting that you probably have more birds coming than you are aware of.  Some only have a very small feeding window each day so unless you happen to be watching at that time you won't see them. I am not doing anything different, but I have seen many more since March just because I have been working at home instead of in the office. Most activity is at dusk and dawn - between times it is mostly sparrows and starlings.

I might try puting the motion sensor camera out to catch dusk and dawn and see what's coming and going. It was our rat tracking camera during our infestations!! lol

 girlymonkey 17 Jun 2020
In reply to mick taylor:

> What cover have you got in your garden?  Small garden birds need somewhere to hang out, observe from and hide in.  An evergreen is good for winter.  What most folk say about seeds is good info, the tray to catch stuff so rats don’t get it is essential. But, if you can get a few of your neighbours feeding then you can establish enough of a feeding area to draw them in.

There is a bit of cover at the edges, but maybe not as much as they would like. I don't want to put the feeders closer to the cover as it would put it in the flower bed and then I would need to trample through the flower bed every day to fill it. Maybe I could rethink this somehow, but for now it's on the lawn.

> Put a few nest boxes up. House Sparrow reduction is almost totally down to lack of nest space (not many gaps beer roof slates, raves etc). 

I did put some up this spring, but probably too late for this year. Hopefully the coming year will be more productive for these.

 kathrync 17 Jun 2020
In reply to girlymonkey:

I need to get one and put it out to see what is digging up my strawberries!  Any recommendations?

 girlymonkey 17 Jun 2020
In reply to Martin W:

> As noted above, starlings are in trouble at the moment - they're on the UK red list, as is the house sparrow.  I am very pleased to have both species regularly visiting my garden.  I love the way that house sparrows seem to like to meet up in a bit of hedgerow and make a cacophonous racket chirping away to each other.  And I find starlings very characterful, plus their plumage is gorgeous.

I didn't know they were on the red list - we get loads coming to the feeders. I was watching them this morning as one or two go onto the feeder and then scatter loads for the rest of the flock on the ground!! Made me laugh.

 girlymonkey 17 Jun 2020
In reply to wbo2:

> don't knock sparrows!! Super little finches 

Not knocking them at all, and very happy to have them coming. Just wondered if I could get other things too!!

 kathrync 17 Jun 2020
In reply to girlymonkey:

> There is a bit of cover at the edges, but maybe not as much as they would like. I don't want to put the feeders closer to the cover as it would put it in the flower bed and then I would need to trample through the flower bed every day to fill it. Maybe I could rethink this somehow, but for now it's on the lawn.

This could be part of the problem. Many birds like to hide in the cover, make a quick dash to get some food and take it back to the cover - they won't come to the feeders if they have to come too far.  I experimented with my ground feeder and found it had to be within about 30cm from a low-growing bush in order for dunnocks to come to it.  They also like my current ground feeder, which is about 10cm off the ground so they can hide underneath, more than they liked my old one that was flat on the ground!

 kathrync 17 Jun 2020
In reply to girlymonkey:

> I didn't know they were on the red list - we get loads coming to the feeders. I was watching them this morning as one or two go onto the feeder and then scatter loads for the rest of the flock on the ground!! Made me laugh.

I get loads too - I get the impression that they are doing better in Scotland than further south. My Dad in SE England is also an avid bird feeder but barely sees any.

Post edited at 10:55
 girlymonkey 17 Jun 2020
In reply to kathrync:

Ok, just moved the feeder over closer to the bushes. Less convenient, but if it does prove a bigger hit then I will come up with some way of getting there easily to refill it.

In reply to girlymonkey:

Hi there

We stay in Cambusbarron - just East of the M9 and since moving here in 2006 I have clocked up 48 different species including flyovers, but notably in recent years less variety. I still love watching them from my desk here.

In reply to girlymonkey:

Well here's a first, and a perfect explanation (and lesson to us all), in part, for the thread.

Hedgerow Crane's-bill (Geranium pyrenacum) is considered by most gardeners as an invasive weed and as such get's ripped up whenever it's seen.  We, on the other hand love it for the delicate flowers which are also loved by small bumblebees.  They flower from early and are still in flower and they sprout up all over the place, including adorning cracks and other places, and end up with interesting structures around now, which have part seed heads and part flowering stems.  

I have just sat and watched a green finch, of which we get quite a few, sat on the stem eating the seeds from the plant.  I havent noticed this before.

So, without sounding a little obvious, it's clear that firstly don't allow you garden to be a sterile wasteland occupied only by nature unfriendly species.  This plant is a boon for small pollinators and now I can see that the seeds are also good for some birds, which means that all the natural sustenance in our hedgerows will be being consumed by our garden birds too, which might explain why they are seen less from now until later in the Autumn.

Let nature in and nature will follow.

Post edited at 11:16
 mondite 17 Jun 2020
In reply to kathrync:

>  My Dad in SE England is also an avid bird feeder but barely sees any.

They have definitely dropped in numbers and are a lot more geographically restricted. In this part of SE England have them constantly in the garden and can see them in the 2-3 miles around but outside of that they vanish.

 kathrync 17 Jun 2020
In reply to mondite:

> >  My Dad in SE England is also an avid bird feeder but barely sees any.

> They have definitely dropped in numbers and are a lot more geographically restricted. In this part of SE England have them constantly in the garden and can see them in the 2-3 miles around but outside of that they vanish.

Yeah, Dad sees sparrows and starlings consistently but maybe only one or two at a time.  I frequently see up to 10 or so sparrows and sometimes up to about 25 starlings in one go (especially when fledgling starlings are following parents around).

 mondite 17 Jun 2020
In reply to kathrync:

> I frequently see up to 10 or so sparrows and sometimes up to about 25 starlings in one go (especially when fledgling starlings are following parents around).

Surprising he would see only one or two starlings since they do tend to be in gangs. He must be on the edge of their territory.

Its quietened down a bit now the fledgings have got bigger and so they can increase their range but think most we have had was about 20-30 starlings at once. Actually had to shut the window whilst on a conference call since the little beggars were making that much noise.

 kathrync 17 Jun 2020
In reply to mondite:

Yeah, back when I lived there we would see big flocks of them, but the numbers do seem to have dropped.  This is roughly in the area where the M40 and M25 meet.  He said he didn't see many fledglings this year either - obviously I haven't visited recently to see for myself...

 girlymonkey 17 Jun 2020
In reply to girlymonkey:

So having diligently moved the feeder and changed feed etc (which may still bring results, I understand that this will take time to have an effect as the birds gradually find it), I noticed today that we had a couple of swallows flying around Obviously, this is nothing to do with the feeders at all, and maybe more to do with our choice of plants etc. We also have a lean-to at the back of the house, one was perching in the inside eves of that. No sign of a nest in it, but it clearly makes a convenient rest stop for them Very nice to watch!

 jbrom 17 Jun 2020
In reply to kathrync:

Friends have had good experiences with the £35 Campark trail camera. I ordered one last night to find out whats burying stuff in my lawn!

I will come back to this tread and update once it's arrived.

 gravy 17 Jun 2020
In reply to Presley Whippet:

But you need an excess of niger seeds because they're greedy little buggers...

 Mical 17 Jun 2020
In reply to girlymonkey:

I have been putting fat balls out last couple of weeks and woodpeckers and Jay's have started coming never seen them in the garden before. Also having doves come for the mixed feed. Garden has become a wildlife Haven Birds, squirels, hedgehogs, frogs, lizards, toads and a visiting fox.Sadly it's taken covid for me to realise what's living out there. 

Post edited at 22:13
 girlymonkey 17 Jun 2020
In reply to kathrync:

Sorry, I missed this question!

Ours is a few years old now. I can have a look at what it is but there are probably many others now available. The thing I don't like about ours is that it over exposes the first second or two of the film at night, so if something just scuttles by you tend to just get a white screen for it. Once it triggers, you can select how long it recorda for and you can set it to take pictures rather than film. Photos might work better for your purposes than film as you just need to see what it is. We wanted film to see where the wee scoundrels were going!

 girlymonkey 17 Jun 2020
In reply to Mical:

Wow, where do you live? Certainly can't think I have seen any lizards around here!

In reply to Mical:

Excellent, sounds like a mini nature reserve!

In reply to jbrom:

> I ordered one last night to find out whats burying stuff in my lawn!

My money is on jay or squirrel.  I fancy one (camera, not a jay or squirrel) and be good to know how you find it.

In reply to girlymonkey:

> Wow, where do you live? Certainly can't think I have seen any lizards around here!

We had a grass snake in our garden on Monday.  Quite close to the bird table, but I’m pretty sure that was a coincidence!

 Mad Tommy 18 Jun 2020
In reply to girlymonkey:

I've gone through the whole thread, and agree with the general opinion: Suet balls, suet pellets, sunflower hearts are best. We've recently moved to sunflower heart chips (broken hearts) as these are cheaper and smaller, making them better for smaller birds. Fewer people have mentioned locations in the garden: we have ground feeders, tables and hanging feeders, and the hanging feeders are in 2 seperate places: suet in the open where the starlings and sparrows congregate, and seed in a tree where goldfinches and greenfinches can eat in peace away from the starlings. I don't think anyone has mentioned trees, though they have mentioned cover. My experience is the more colourful birds (chaffinch, goldfinch, greenfinch) like to arrive in a garden high (treetop) before slowly moving down the tree to the feeders once they know it is safe. Starlings prefer open spaces and land directly on the exposed feeders. Variety, in terms of foods, cover/exposure, feeder height, etc really is the answer if you want a variety of visitors.

In reply to girlymonkey:

Sorry haven’t read all the posts, and I’m sure this has already been said, but sunflower hearts are an absolute must. You’ll (eventually, be patient) get goldfinches, chaffinches, and maybe even green finches and bull finches, with these. Also coal, blue and great tits, sparrows, and even woodpeckers. 

Fat balls at this time of year are just going to get demolished by starlings. Likewise don’t even bother with mealworms if you have starlings - they’ll eat them all in 10 minutes. You could also have a separate nyger seed feeder to complement the sunflower hearts - though the finches seem weirdly picky about when they’ll go for these  

In reply to girlymonkey:

ps the peanuts will get popular again as autumn and winter arrive. 

In reply to girlymonkey:

I would echo kathrync's comment about a bird bath. We don't put out bird food,, instead preferring to let some teasels etc grow, but do have a bird bath that is frequently used and is not a rat magnet. Any bird bath needs a clear view in all directions so the bird can avoid ambush by a predator.

 mondite 18 Jun 2020
In reply to Paul Sagar:

It was interesting to notice yesterday and today that whilst over the last couple of weeks the numbers of birds visiting had dropped a bit it shot back up. I assume it had dropped since the fledgings were now able to forage further afield but with the crap weather they all stayed close to home.

In reply to mondite:

Until about two weeks ago I had bazillions of goldfinches but now they’ve all...gone. Hope they come back soon!

 girlymonkey 19 Jun 2020
In reply to girlymonkey:

So, latest birding update! It appears the swallows are building a nest!! Seems late but I have been told they can have two sets of eggs in a season. I would have assumed they would use the same nest both times, but maybe not. They seem to be nesting in our lean-to, and we can see the site perfectly from the kitchen window, so that will be nice to watch.

Other observation, the birds prefer our mixed bird feed to the sunflower hearts!! I just put sunflower hearts out for a couple of days, and they were far less interested. Put out some of the other mixed food and there are a lot more. Still not much more variety though, just the starlings and sparrows with the odd blackbird calling by.

Thanks all, enjoying watching and learning

 kathrync 19 Jun 2020
In reply to mondite:

I usually find there is a peak of activity in spring at nesting time, then a second peak in early summer when they are feeding young birds in the nest and as they fledge, after which activity tails off until it gets colder in the autumn. But, sometimes I see multiple spring/summer peaks, which I think happens in good weather years when birds can lay multiple clutches.  That might be happening this year as the weather has been good so far.

 kathrync 19 Jun 2020
In reply to Paul Sagar:

Although goldfinches are technically resident in the UK, many of them actually overwinter in southern Europe.  You usually see loads around May as they migrate back, and then they disperse as they find nesting sites and you don't see so many.  You'll probably find a couple of pairs have stayed around to breed if you watch for them.

 kathrync 19 Jun 2020
In reply to girlymonkey:

> So, latest birding update! It appears the swallows are building a nest!! Seems late but I have been told they can have two sets of eggs in a season. I would have assumed they would use the same nest both times, but maybe not. They seem to be nesting in our lean-to, and we can see the site perfectly from the kitchen window, so that will be nice to watch.

Wonderful! :D

 Tom V 19 Jun 2020
In reply to Paul Sagar:

I put out some mealworms near where our blackbird was nesting and the tray was emptied almost immediately by sparrows. It seems they'll eat almost anything.

In reply to kathrync:

The latest arrival to my feeders is a juvenile goldfinch! Very noticeable because s/he has the distinctive white bars on the wings and flash of gold, but not yet the red face!

Also, the fat male chaffinch is back, which is nice.

 jbrom 21 Jun 2020
In reply to mick taylor:

It arrived on Friday and have already seen some interesting comings and goings!

The image quality is fine and it works well. For £35 it really is very good.

I will stick some footage online tomorrow and share it here.

 Mical 25 Jun 2020
In reply to girlymonkey:

Just outside Swansea..Noticed a common lizard and a newt in the garden, not at the same time. Installed a small pond a few months ago and it's amazing how it has attracted wildlife. 

 Mical 25 Jun 2020
In reply to mick taylor:

The last few months have been brilliant for wildlife in the garden. A small pond was made a few months ago and it has made a huge difference in wildlife in the garden. Highly recommend placing one if you enjoy wildlife. Luckily I have a common in front and behind the house so there is plenty around and now they are coming into the garden. 

 jbrom 28 Jun 2020
In reply to mick taylor:

Apologies. Took longer to get round to it than I had hoped.

I have uploaded some captures from the trail camera to my Flickr account.

https://flic.kr/s/aHsmP7Hoqa

For £35 I really have no complaints. 


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