Bird feeding

18 Sep 2020

The COVID-19 lockdown here in the UK has put a dampener on my motivation to blog. I started writing this post back in May, but couldn't make myself get it finished. Some of blame is on lack of time - most clients have gone very quiet, but my main one is a global Epidemics initiative, so I've actually been busier than ever. There's also the existential doom of the global pandemic itself, and a whole heap of worry for the health of a lonely but very vulnerable father I shouldn't visit.

There's a few things that have seen me through this period. The privilege of being able to work from home, locked down with all the family together is not something I take for granted. Then, with all the nature reserves and bird hides being closed, I've relied more than ever on the garden to give me my birding fix.

The bird feeder being visited by House Sparrows and Goldfinches

Just before lockdown started, I made my own bird feeder pole. I didn't like the thin metal ones with two (usually over-ornate) hooks on top. I wanted something wooden, with option to dangle more feeders. I had an idea for something quite stylised, a bit like a Scandinavian-designed tree. It's not particularly well built, but the timber was inexpensive and it didn't take too long to put together. It's a prototype, but we've managed to attract a good amount of birds to the garden quite quickly.

At the start we were mostly getting mostly Blue and Great Tits, along with a Robin, two of which were also nesting in our garden. Now we're getting:

  • Starling
  • Blackbird
  • Magpie
  • House Sparrow
  • Chaffinch
  • Greenfinch
  • Dunnock
  • Goldfinch
  • Collared Dove

Then there's the entertaining ungainly pigeons who have worked out how to balance on the branches of the feeder and reach seed by stretching until they finally fall off their perch.

Wood Pigeon doing yoga to reach a feeder

I've also left out a dish of water for birds to drink and bathe, and Starlings, Sparrows and Blackbirds seem to use this the most. There are also dishes of mixed seed and oats for the ground feeders (Blackbirds like the oats).

The Peanut feeder has been barely touched, and the sunflower seeds didn't get much traction either. But the Sunflower Hearts, homemade fat balls and oats have been very popular. Then I tried a bag of 'High Energy mix' - a combination of sunflower hearts, oats, dried mealworms, suet pellets and peanuts that goes down well with all of them. At the height of breeding season, one large feeder full of this mix would be gone by the end of the day.

What I can't work out is why the small feeders get barely touched, while the large feeders are drained regularly. I've tried moving their positions, putting different food in them, mixing the food, but still the large ones are what they want. I'm guessing this might change over winter, when food is scarcer?

Blue Tit - no obvious jokes please

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Hicks Design
Wenrisc House
Meadow Court
Witney, OX28 6ER
United Kingdom