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Putting up the bird feeders

wildlife, gardening, environment, Rural living, Pets and Vets
bungeejumper
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Putting up the bird feeders

#265956

Postby bungeejumper » November 21st, 2019, 10:04 am

Okay, there's no denying it any longer. The frosts are getting more frequent, and the blackbirds are getting through the fallen apples, and winter's not too far away. The 25 kg bag of bird nuts has arrived from Amazon, and the suet balls, it's time to repay our annual debt to the birds.

So far we've had mainly tits on the feeders - great, blue, and a couple of long-tailed yesterday, which I always like to see because they don't compete for food quite so readily (being smaller than the rest). One of our robins has cracked the secret of hanging onto the feeder, despite his unsuitable feet, and last year a single blackbird managed the same trick. We get green and greater spotted woodpeckers on the feeders, and every few years I see a lesser spotted, which is a rare privilege.

The acrobatic squirrels feel like less of a privilege, especially when they shin down the hanging wire on the feeder and tip it up so that all the food falls onto the ground. But my wife is currently experimenting with chilli flavoured bird food! Apparently birds can't taste chilli, but mammals absolutely hate it. I'll have to have a think about whether that fits my ecological objectives? I can see both advantages and disadvantages to having centrally heated birds. :D

BJ

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Re: Putting up the bird feeders

#265966

Postby Snorvey » November 21st, 2019, 10:25 am

We have a wee thug of a Robin who tries to chase away all the smaller birds. We have feeders at either end of the garden though and he can't be in 2 places at the same time - although he tries.

Fatballs are about the only thing that is being eaten at the moment. The seeds are only eaten if they have ran out.

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Re: Putting up the bird feeders

#266048

Postby supremetwo » November 21st, 2019, 4:33 pm

bungeejumper wrote:Okay, there's no denying it any longer. The frosts are getting more frequent, and the blackbirds are getting through the fallen apples, and winter's not too far away. The 25 kg bag of bird nuts has arrived from Amazon, and the suet balls, it's time to repay our annual debt to the birds.

So far we've had mainly tits on the feeders - great, blue, and a couple of long-tailed yesterday, which I always like to see because they don't compete for food quite so readily (being smaller than the rest). One of our robins has cracked the secret of hanging onto the feeder, despite his unsuitable feet, and last year a single blackbird managed the same trick. We get green and greater spotted woodpeckers on the feeders, and every few years I see a lesser spotted, which is a rare privilege.

The acrobatic squirrels feel like less of a privilege, especially when they shin down the hanging wire on the feeder and tip it up so that all the food falls onto the ground. But my wife is currently experimenting with chilli flavoured bird food! Apparently birds can't taste chilli, but mammals absolutely hate it. I'll have to have a think about whether that fits my ecological objectives? I can see both advantages and disadvantages to having centrally heated birds. :D
BJ

We have needed to resort to added protection, otherwise corvids and squirrels quickly take the lot.
Image

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Re: Putting up the bird feeders

#266304

Postby Gengulphus » November 22nd, 2019, 2:50 pm

Nice picture, and it would be of interest whether you bought the enclosure or bought it, and if you bought it, where. But trying to think like a squirrel, I can't help feeling that sooner or later, one is going to come up with the idea of biting through the blue ties fastening the wire mesh bottom to the rest of it...

Gengulphus

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Re: Putting up the bird feeders

#266308

Postby kiloran » November 22nd, 2019, 3:07 pm

Gengulphus wrote:Nice picture, and it would be of interest whether you bought the enclosure or bought it, and if you bought it, where. But trying to think like a squirrel, I can't help feeling that sooner or later, one is going to come up with the idea of biting through the blue ties fastening the wire mesh bottom to the rest of it...

Gengulphus

They don't have to be that smart (though they undoubtedly are).

Some years ago, we had a squirrel-proof bird feeder for peanuts. Rather than the usual mesh cylinder, it consisted of a mild-steel tube, perforated with many holes about 5mm diameter. The mild-steel was around 2mm thick.

Within a couple of months, the squirrels had chewed a significant hole in the mild-steel tube so the peanuts just poured out.

--kiloran

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Re: Putting up the bird feeders

#266357

Postby Gengulphus » November 22nd, 2019, 5:27 pm

Gengulphus wrote:Nice picture, and it would be of interest whether you bought the enclosure or bought it, and if you bought it, where. But trying to think like a squirrel, I can't help feeling that sooner or later, one is going to come up with the idea of biting through the blue ties fastening the wire mesh bottom to the rest of it...

Have just noticed the ridiculous "... it would be of interest whether you bought the enclosure or bought it, ..." in that post! It was supposed to be "... it would be of interest whether you bought the enclosure or made it yourself, ...", but clearly my attention wandered away from what my fingers were doing!

Gengulphus

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Re: Putting up the bird feeders

#266375

Postby supremetwo » November 22nd, 2019, 6:24 pm

Gengulphus wrote:
Gengulphus wrote:Nice picture, and it would be of interest whether you bought the enclosure or bought it, and if you bought it, where. But trying to think like a squirrel, I can't help feeling that sooner or later, one is going to come up with the idea of biting through the blue ties fastening the wire mesh bottom to the rest of it...

Have just noticed the ridiculous "... it would be of interest whether you bought the enclosure or bought it, ..." in that post! It was supposed to be "... it would be of interest whether you bought the enclosure or made it yourself, ...", but clearly my attention wandered away from what my fingers were doing!

Gengulphus

Yes, Gengulphus - made it myself with left-overs from other projects.

Baby squirrels can squeeze inside but they are not around in Winter.

And before I fixed the inner feeder so that it could not swing, the jackdaws would balance on one side and get close enough to feed.
Much cawing with indignation when others landed on the opposite side and the inner feeder swung back out of reach.

ReformedCharacter
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Re: Putting up the bird feeders

#266380

Postby ReformedCharacter » November 22nd, 2019, 6:51 pm

supremetwo wrote:Yes, Gengulphus - made it myself with left-overs from other projects.

Baby squirrels can squeeze inside but they are not around in Winter.

And before I fixed the inner feeder so that it could not swing, the jackdaws would balance on one side and get close enough to feed.
Much cawing with indignation when others landed on the opposite side and the inner feeder swung back out of reach.


Very nice, I was just thinking (actually being prompted by my OH) to build one - but please what is the diameter of the mesh? I have some mesh that is 50mm but yours looks smaller?

RC

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Re: Putting up the bird feeders

#266391

Postby Dod101 » November 22nd, 2019, 7:43 pm

I put my full feeder out earlier this week and I am surprised that very few of the usual coal tits,blue tits and the like have been near it. It must be that there are fewer of them around this year which is surely surprising unless the very wet Autumn has driven them away.

OTOH we have many more birds of prey this winter than usual. I saw a kestrel yesterday doing its favourite hovering and then a dive, and also a couple of buzzards. Big majestic birds. Presumably unconnected although some birds of prey are helping keep down the pigeon population judging by the piles of feathers I find from time to time.

Dod

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Re: Putting up the bird feeders

#266400

Postby kiloran » November 22nd, 2019, 8:13 pm

Dod101 wrote:I put my full feeder out earlier this week and I am surprised that very few of the usual coal tits,blue tits and the like have been near it. It must be that there are fewer of them around this year which is surely surprising unless the very wet Autumn has driven them away.
Dod

I keep my peanut and seed feeders topped up throughout the year, and they've been very popular until about a month ago, but now there are relatively few birds. The 20-30 sparrows we constantly had are now down to 2-3. I now see only 1-2 blue tits or great tits each day. The only constant has been the jackdaws on the nut feeder (and the accursed pigeons).

--kiloran

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Re: Putting up the bird feeders

#266461

Postby bungeejumper » November 23rd, 2019, 8:57 am

Yesterday's sighting. A rabid pigeon! It was angrily keeping three hungry jackdaws at bay, all four of them trying to pick up the pieces of nut that had fallen from the peanut feeder. Giving them quite a pecking, too. I have little enough time for pigeons, if I'm honest, but this feisty specimen deserved some kind of a mention in dispatches.

BJ

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Re: Putting up the bird feeders

#266480

Postby kiloran » November 23rd, 2019, 10:28 am

bungeejumper wrote:Yesterday's sighting. A rabid pigeon! It was angrily keeping three hungry jackdaws at bay, all four of them trying to pick up the pieces of nut that had fallen from the peanut feeder. Giving them quite a pecking, too. I have little enough time for pigeons, if I'm honest, but this feisty specimen deserved some kind of a mention in dispatches.

BJ

So that's where it's gone! We had a similar crazy pigeon through the summer, frantically chasing anything that went anywhere near "his" food. Haven't seen him for a while, but it seems he's migrated south for the winter. Feel free to make him feel at home, I don't want the thug back.

--kiloran

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Re: Putting up the bird feeders

#266933

Postby supremetwo » November 25th, 2019, 8:43 am

ReformedCharacter wrote:
supremetwo wrote:Yes, Gengulphus - made it myself with left-overs from other projects.

Baby squirrels can squeeze inside but they are not around in Winter.

And before I fixed the inner feeder so that it could not swing, the jackdaws would balance on one side and get close enough to feed.
Much cawing with indignation when others landed on the opposite side and the inner feeder swung back out of reach.


Very nice, I was just thinking (actually being prompted by my OH) to build one - but please what is the diameter of the mesh? I have some mesh that is 50mm but yours looks smaller?

RC

I used 2 inch # for the sides and its wire diameter is just under 1/8 in.
The blue tits seem to fly through it as if it was not there.

The top and bottom is 1 inch # with a wire diameter of 1/16 in.

Top and sides woven together. The bottom is held on with twisted wire ties for re-fill access.

No signs of squirrels trying to bite through any of it.

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Re: Putting up the bird feeders

#270858

Postby Dod101 » December 13th, 2019, 1:12 pm

kiloran wrote:
Dod101 wrote:I put my full feeder out earlier this week and I am surprised that very few of the usual coal tits,blue tits and the like have been near it. It must be that there are fewer of them around this year which is surely surprising unless the very wet Autumn has driven them away.
Dod

I keep my peanut and seed feeders topped up throughout the year, and they've been very popular until about a month ago, but now there are relatively few birds. The 20-30 sparrows we constantly had are now down to 2-3. I now see only 1-2 blue tits or great tits each day. The only constant has been the jackdaws on the nut feeder (and the accursed pigeons).


I am pleasantly surprised that today my birds are very active around the feeder. Cold weather may have driven them there but I have the usual coal tits, great tits, chaffinches and earlier a woodpecker. It is great to see them all there again

Dod

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Re: Putting up the bird feeders

#270867

Postby bungeejumper » December 13th, 2019, 1:28 pm

I solved my problem with squirrels and jackdaws getting to my suet ball feeder. Went down to my local cheapo shop and blued £3.95 on a feeder cage, then dropped my fat ball feeder down into it. Alternatively, I could have bought one ready made for six quid from https://www.primrose.co.uk/-p-113425.html.

Who cares? It works. Squirrels have had several goes but have yet to crack the contraption. Jackdaws tend to take one look and then say sod that, I'm off, without really trying to get at it at all. Blue tits, great tits, woodpeckers and long tailed tits are straight in there, no messing. Blackbirds, sparrows and robins hang around on the ground waiting for dropped bits and pieces. So far, so good. :)

BJ

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Re: Putting up the bird feeders

#275097

Postby Snorvey » January 4th, 2020, 11:57 am

So we'd hung a few feeders with mealworms, fatballs, seeds, nuts and some kind of suet block - as well as a birdbath.

I shuffled out in my slippers out this morning, filled the feeders etc and went back inside for some breakfast.

60 seconds later a huge darking of the sky and an absolute swarm of starlings descended from the heavens and demolished everything.

It was hugely entertaining for the short period they were here, but now my garden is in tatters. The poor Robin sat on the fence wondering what the hell was going on.

Ach well. They were hungry.

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Re: Putting up the bird feeders

#275128

Postby madhatter » January 4th, 2020, 1:14 pm

Snorvey wrote:60 seconds later a huge darking of the sky and an absolute swarm of starlings descended from the heavens and demolished everything.


I stopped putting out suet balls after a couple were taken down by a grey squirrel.

Mostly I now deter mass visits by only putting out small quantities of various foods. The downside is of course is then having to put more out much more often.

If you have Goldfinches (which have suddenly increased in numbers over the last few years round here) then niger seed not only works for them, but seems to be very difficult for most other birds to deal with. They might have a stab at it but then ignore it.

Also for the robin, as it seems to be one of very few that will come right to the kitchen window, I can replenish without even going outside.

Seems very taken with pastry crumbs at the moment, even taking them first when mealworms are also available.

Sunflower hearts are the most popular for the tits and even the Goldfinches, dispensed from a new feeder with very small holes.

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Re: Putting up the bird feeders

#275129

Postby bungeejumper » January 4th, 2020, 1:21 pm

Snorvey wrote:60 seconds later a huge darking of the sky and an absolute swarm of starlings descended from the heavens and demolished everything.

It was hugely entertaining for the short period they were here, but now my garden is in tatters. The poor Robin sat on the fence wondering what the hell was going on.

FWIW, the squirrel proof fatball feeder that I installed three weeks ago is still proving squirrel and jackdaw proof. :) But a solitary starling had a try at it yesterday, and it was getting in far enough to land the occasional pay-dirt peck at the fat, but it soon cleared off. Presumably there are easier ways of getting your breakfast around these parts? ;)

Have to admit that starlings aren't my favourite birds, even if they do murmurate so strikingly. My war with the little peskies started thirty years ago, when they started nesting inside the box eaves of my cottage - every morning at 4 am they'd be stomping up and down in their little hobnailed boots while I was trying to get some much-needed sleep. But the sonic disruption that they can cause in cities, where they muster in tens of thousands on high buildings, is just amazing.

And so is their amazingly acidic crap, which will go through your car's paintwork like conc sulphuric. The next time David Attenborough tells me that starlings are an endangered species (they are), I shall probably go gently deaf for a few minutes. :evil:

BJ

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Re: Putting up the bird feeders

#275168

Postby madhatter » January 4th, 2020, 5:11 pm

bungeejumper wrote:FWIW, the squirrel proof fatball feeder that I installed three weeks ago is still proving squirrel and jackdaw proof. :) But a solitary starling had a try at it yesterday, and it was getting in far enough to land the occasional pay-dirt peck at the fat, but it soon cleared off. Presumably there are easier ways of getting your breakfast around these parts? ;)
BJ

Interesting. I have wondered how effective a squirrel resistant cage would be for a starling, but the lack of any such claims led me to believe that the answer would be “not very”. Probably is worth a try, though I suspect it squirrel would try to knock it to the ground, even if it still couldn’t get at it, would allow foxes carry it off.

Still, combined with some means of stopping it from detaching it from the bird table without a pair of bolt cutters, it sounds very promising.

To go back to the sunflower seed hearts, I never used to get Coal tits before I started putting them out. I still don’t as it happens, but they did appear within a few days of starting to put them out, and they did come exclusively to those, for several weeks after, so I have some hope that they will reappear at some point.

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Re: Putting up the bird feeders

#275181

Postby Fluke » January 4th, 2020, 6:06 pm

The birds round my way don’t seem to like the fat balls I get from the pet shop so I make my own, they love em.

Ingredients:

340g jar of peanut butter
200g shredded suet
130g of polenta/couscous or similar (I sometimes just use flour)
180g birdseed
100g sugar
Handful of raisins
130g oats.


Preparation:

Melt peanut butter and suet together in pyrex dish over small saucepan of boiling water

Mix all other ingredients in large bowl

When melted fat is cooled pour over mix and stir in well

Mound into small balls and put in fridge for 24 hours.

Hey presto!


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