For many, feeding the birds on a warm summer’s day in the garden invokes incomparable feelings of tranquillity and delight.
Providing these captivating and wondrous little creatures with food brings them close enough for you to marvel at their charming behaviour and often-magnificent colours, and not only gives you a sense of goodwill, but also acts as an ideal way of motivating children about wildlife.
There are now several ways to feed birds in your garden, with different types of birds preferring to feed in different ways. Many of the different features of the feeders will factor into what type of birds will visit your garden. Details such as the position of the feeder, food in the feeder and type of feeder could determine which breed of birds spend time in your garden.
Think about bird safety: When feeding with peanuts, it’s worth considering that the bird feeder should not allow a bird to take a whole peanut at a time. This will safeguard against young birds choking. Depending on your garden, you may wish to consider purchasing a guardian. Guardians have two main purposes: they protect birds from predators whilst they’re eating, and prevent the food being eaten by squirrels or larger birds.
If you are particularly conscious about squirrels, when considering where to position your feeder, think about how squirrels may gain access to the food. Hang it from a freestanding feeder pole rather than a tree, and place the feeder away from any jumping points such as a fence or tree.
There are similar considerations to make about cats with bird baths. Be careful of their placement. Repelling cats from outdoor bird feeders involves placing the feeder where cats cannot reach it, such as high on a pole or off of an extended tree branch.
Nuts, seeds, insects and cereals are the best food for birds, but suet balls are a particular favourite of birds such as the blackbird, blue tit, house sparrow, starling and robin. They are made from suet, seeds and cereal, sometimes mixed with insects. Be aware that they can melt, so it’s best to put these in a shadier position.
Although you’d usually expect to feed birds from a hanging feeder, some birds, such as blackbirds and chaffinches prefer to feed on the ground. Whereas it’s the smaller birds such as blue tits, great tits and coal tits that would rather eat from a feeder they can grip onto off the ground.
There are also very specialist feeders such as a hummingbird feeder that dispenses nectar, and a finch feeder that dispenses the tiny Niger seeds that finches like to eat.
If you have a variety of different types of food and feeders in your garden, you will have less competition between species, smaller birds will be able to get some of the food and your garden will be visited year-round by a host of different birds.
Keeping a pair of binoculars handy will allow you to keep an eye on what might be happening in your garden. If you’re really keen, why not keep a webcam on your birdfeeder to see what kinds of birds come to your garden whilst you aren’t there?
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