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Food & Drink How do I get birds to eat out of my bird feeder?

Discussion in 'General' started by Pete J, 1 Jun 2020.

  1. Pete J

    Pete J Working from home?

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    Hi all, probably another one for gardening experts...

    Bit of a back story: I moved into my house over 5 years ago now. The old couple who had been living there not only were REALLY into gardening (God forgive me for what I've let happen to it) but kept a couple of bird feeders around. Being all excited about gardening, I dutifully bought bird seed and kept the feeders full. At one point, I would have to top them up every day as the little b******s ate like there was no tomorrow.

    During 2017, I got fed up with gardening and also neglected topping up the bird feeders. Let's just say it wasn't a good time for me. Towards the end of the gardening season, I found the bird feeders pecked through (they were plastic). I felt really guilty about that - images of starving little birds, pecking through plastic to get at the last tiny morsels.

    I didn't bother doing any sort of gardening or bird feeding for the next couple of years (long story), but now with the lockdown, I'm getting back into it. to this end, I've bought a nice new bird feeder and would like my feathered friends to return. I still had LOTS of bird seed stored in sealed containers (in a cool, dry place) from 2017. I was worried it may have gone off, but when I opened it, it still looked and felt fine. I've looked up shelf life and it's supposed to be 6-12 months, but this stuff looked as good as the day I bought it.

    I've put the bird feeder out and during the last week, have only seen one bird eat from it. Is this normal if a bird feeder is effectively newly put up, or should they - wait for it - flock to it?

    So, any ideas?
     
  2. enbydee

    enbydee Member

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    If they're not used to a source being there they might take some time to find it, but do bear in mind that a lot of garden birds' natural foods are in abundance at the moment (insects, flowers, seeds etc) so feeders aren't the honeypot they might otherwise be October to March.

    You might want to scatter a bit on the ground to entice them to the area, or wait until later in the year. If the seed isn't sprouting or mouldy it's probably fine.
     
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  3. adidan

    adidan Guesswork is still work

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    They'll come back once they know it's there and it seems safe for them.

    Took a little while here but now the 2xpeanut feeders 1xseed feeder and 3xfat ball feeders are lucky to have anything left after a day.

    To be fair the 2 or 3 squirrels help themselves to a fair bit.
     
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  4. edzieba

    edzieba Virtual Realist

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    - Purchase the birds' current eateries and turn them into birdfeeder(TM) franchises leaving them no alternatives.
    - Keyword ads on Twitter.
    - Force them to at gunpoint.
     
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  5. Guest-44638

    Guest-44638 Guest

    Glue them to the floor of the feeder...

    What...?
     
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  6. boiled_elephant

    boiled_elephant Whitelist Bit-Tech in your adblock!

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    Defo not much bird activity on feeders atm because there's just tonnes of natural sources of food. This is a good thing, and a lot of naturalists recommend to just not bother feeding them much in late spring and early summer. They should be out there in the fields and streams, working for their food, dammit! Plenty of insects and worms about.

    I'm not sure when feeding is meant to start again, I think autumn? Dry spells, too, I think if there's no rain for weeks and weeks it reduces birds' options, so putting out food and bird baths then might help them. Right now, tho, I'm not bothering to fill the feeders, just the baths.

    Don't bother with suet in this heat either, it's a winter food. They don't need it right now.

    If you want to just brute-force the situation, get rid of all the other stuff you've had out and just put out a single feeder full of mealworm. It's like crack to them. That'll at least get them paying attention to your feeding location again. But again, it's about what's best for them, not what's best for us, so I wouldn't say this is necessary right now.
     
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  7. Mr_Mistoffelees

    Mr_Mistoffelees The Cat Lies Down on Broadway

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    Nailing to the perch worked for the parrot...
     
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  8. adidan

    adidan Guesswork is still work

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    That's what I thought but the fat balls are the first things the birds go for. Woodpeckers love them.
     
  9. boiled_elephant

    boiled_elephant Whitelist Bit-Tech in your adblock!

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    I spose they are all nesting at the moment. Dunno if there's any harm giving them fatballs right now, I'll ask my ecologist friend.
     
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  10. adidan

    adidan Guesswork is still work

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    Be good to know, great if you can find out. :thumb:
     
  11. Mr_Mistoffelees

    Mr_Mistoffelees The Cat Lies Down on Broadway

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  12. boiled_elephant

    boiled_elephant Whitelist Bit-Tech in your adblock!

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    She said, and I quote: "No should be fine. Starlings love suet!"

    So suet away, this is good cos I've got buckets of the stuff in the cupboards.
     
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  13. loftie

    loftie Well-Known Member

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    If your aim is to specifically have them use the bird feeders - I've no idea. If your aim is to get birds into the garden have you considered putting out some water? I did this last year when I read somewhere that it's helps, so I used a plasitc seed starter lid and filled it with water. I had pigeons, black birds, robins and I think blue tits - or some other small bird. I can't really remember.

    Anyway the small birds would drink from it and have a bath, the bigger birds would just drink from it. Even had some foxes stop by for a drink unfortunately. Birds are pretty common in our garden though, we normally have 2/4 pigeons that are around as well as a couple of robins, the black birds show up occasionally, smaller birds even less frequently. Had the occasional crow around recently as well as a couple of parakeets. Had a pheasant land in the garden once - that was a shocker.
    Oh and a headless chicken.
     
  14. boiled_elephant

    boiled_elephant Whitelist Bit-Tech in your adblock!

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    We have a pheasant that lands on our hedge sometimes and walks up and down looking for all the world like it just teleported in and is trying to figure out what dimension it's in. They're dopey af :grin:
     
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  15. Mr_Mistoffelees

    Mr_Mistoffelees The Cat Lies Down on Broadway

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    We often see pheasants, they really are exceptionally thick.
     
  16. Guest-44638

    Guest-44638 Guest

    Noisy f*****s, too... or is that peacocks?
    One showjumping venue had them - whichever bird it was - in the background, somewhere... used to scream the place down when any event was broadcast from there, on TV.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: 1 Jun 2020
  17. adidan

    adidan Guesswork is still work

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    Awesome, thanks. :thumb:

    As for pheasants I have to shoo them off every so often, stupid bloody troublemakers.
     
  18. Pete J

    Pete J Working from home?

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    I was erming and ahhing over getting a bird bath. This morning I was looking at them again, and in the five minutes it took to make up my mind, the one I wanted (a nice ceramic dish with a little bird figurine) had sold out. Ah well, found another one.
     
  19. boiled_elephant

    boiled_elephant Whitelist Bit-Tech in your adblock!

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    Both, the high pitched scream is peacocks, the chicken-like kaaw-kuk is male pheasants boasting/establishing territory.

    I do have a little sympathy for pheasants seeing as how they're a real fish out of water - a non-native jungle fowl imported by rich Victorian ***** to be shot en masse. They expect thick undergrowth and canopies; to them, a field, road or hedgerow is about as natural as one of us trying to live in a zorb.

    They're an interesting answer to the historical question, "what would've happened if the Dodo hadn't gone extinct?" We'd probably have imported it, bred it, and then released it into the wild to be shot at, run over by cars and eaten by foxes for the next 200 years.
     
  20. Spraduke

    Spraduke Lurker

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    I like the idea of Dodo for Christmas lunch
     

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