Thursday, 29 October 2015

I only ever get pigeons!

People are always coming to tell me that they put out food to attract birds but they only ever get pigeons. If this sounds like you then you'll be pleased to hear that you can change that.

Here's what could be happening.,,,,,,,,

I'm guessing that you're trying to cut costs. Bird food isn't cheap and, once you've started putting food out for the birds you're bound to feel that you want to keep doing it. Am I right? So you shop around for the least expensive food you can find in the hope that you can keep your feeders full all the year round.

Well my bird loving friends, I can see that this is well intentioned but by buying that inexpensive food (from your local garden centre or discount store) you can almost guarantee that it is packed with wheat, corn and flaked maize. The very thing that pigeons love!

Most of the inexpensive bird food sold by large retail outlets is bulked up with wheat, corn, biscuit meal and flaked maize, The high energy seed, preferred by the small wild birds that you're wanting to attract, is only found in low proportions.

Your little birds will throw out all the food they don't like and will only eat the good stuff. You've probably seen them doing this.

Here's another reason....... the inexpensive food is likely to be stored in large warehouses for a very long time. There is no guarantee that the storage conditions are cool enough to keep oil rich foods from turning rancid and dry enough to deter moulds from growing. Your small birds may find this food unpalatable and may bypass your garden feeders in favour of someone else's. If you're buying peanuts from the same place, then your feeders could be a source of aspergillus mould which creates the deadly aflatoxins responsible for killing wild birds.

And here's another reason....... if you've filled up your feeders with predominantly wheat and corn and all your target species have turned up their little beaks at what's on offer at your feeding station, your food will certainly go off very quickly and further deter the birds from visiting. You'll watch in earnest in the hope that something stops by but your food will be on the least wanted list.

So, what's the solution? Well, if you think about how much food is going to waste by continuing to buy bird food in this way, and how little you're actually helping the small birds, it may not surprise you to hear that you can make a big difference by changing your supplier.

A long-tailed tit inspects a garden feeder
You can also save yourself some money by understanding the feeding habits of birds, Why do your feeders stay full at certain time of the year? Well this is when there is a lot of natural food available. Your little avian friends will always prefer to eat natural food so, during those time, just keep a small amount of food in your feeders. If they don't eat it in a couple of weeks, tip it out and add another small amount. That way you won't be wasting feeders full of food.

I've suggested some reputable suppliers at the end of this blog and you might want to compare prices. You can rest assured that all the food is sourced and stored correctly and that the contents are of the highest quality. You'll be able to choose what you feed and many of the sites will give you advice about what to feed to which species at different times of the year. Some even give you the calorific value of each type of food. You'll be able to choose whether you offer husked food (greenfinches love de-husking black sunflower seeds) or high energy food and, very soon, you may see a decline in pigeons in your garden. Having some pigeons isn't all that bad - they will clear up the seed that has been dropped on the ground which deters rodents.

Remember to store your food in a cool, dry place, preferably in a proper storage bucket, and it will stay fresh for a long time.

A goldfinch on a niger feeder

We'll look at what to feed and when to feed in my next blog.


BTO bird care range
CJ Wildbird Foods
Little Dicky Bird
Ernest Charles
Garden Bird Supplies
Living with Birds
Bird Box
The Blue Barn, nr Leeds