Bird Feeders

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There are a number of different feeds and feeders that you can put out in your garden to attract birds. These range from the different types of seed and seed feeders to fat and suet balls and meal worms and even the traditional bird table with kitchen scraps.

Different foods and different feeders will attract different birds. Some birds are naturally ground-feeders, whereas others will take more readily to hanging feeders and some will not be attracted to any food that you may put out. Your bird food may also attract some unwanted attention - Grey Squirrels for example will take seeds and peanuts from feeders whilst leaving any kitchen scraps on the ground risks attracting vermin.

Bird Feeder Mixed Seed hanging feeders are probably the best place to start. Mixed seed is usually the least expensive and will attract a variety of birds like the Coal Tit shown on the left and will also attract Sparrows, Dunnocks and Finches.

For some birds, like the Sparrows and Dunnocks, the mixed seed will always be their first choice feeder, but most others will prefer sunflower seeds if they have the opportunity to take them instead. Bird Feeder

Sunflower are usually available as either the whole black seeds, as shown here on the right, or as shelled (white) whole seeds or pieces. The white seeds are the same as the black ones except that they've had their seed cases removed, so most birds will prefer the white ones as not having to remove the seed cases themselves is an energy saving. Not surprisingly though, the white ones are more expensive. If you ever put sunflower seeds out of any type they will always be a favourite at the feeding station.

Bird Feeder Peanuts and peanut feeders are another favourite. Peanuts are high in protein and will attract a number of species, as well as the perhaps not so welcome Grey Squirrel. Peanut feeders can be the caged type, as left, or the whole nut gravity feeder as on the right. Gravity Peanut Feeder There are, however, a few problems with using a gravity feeder. You may find that the feeder is emptied in short order by either squirrels or pigeons, but you are also advised not to offer whole peanuts in the nesting season. The reason being that some birds may take a whole peanut and feed it directly to one of their nestlings, whereby the young bird chokes on it.

One other thing to note about peanuts is that some people also regard the net bag type as a hazard ie. there is a potential for birds to become entangled in the net bag itself.

Bird Feeder If you want to attract Goldfinches to your garden then try putting out a nyjer seed feeder. Goldfinches love nyjer seed but the long thin black seeds do need a different type of feeder with a slim opening for the birds to take the seed from. In the Summer and Autumn when there are a large number of young birds around you may find that you get a lot of Goldfinches on and around the feeder at any one time.

Of course, it's not just Goldfinches that are attracted to nyjer seed. You may find that you have other finches visit this feeder such as Siskins and Redpolls as well.

Window Feeder
Hanging feeders, whether hanging or on poles, are not the only type of feeder that you can employ. Feeders that attach to windows by suction cups are particularly useful if you are limited for space or perhaps live in a flat. The image here on the right shows one such feeder with a Bullfinch but in an urban area you are much more likely to have Robins or Blue Tits visit.

Tray type feeders such as this are also useful for putting out some other food types such as dried meal worms for example which are beneficial to many birds during the nesting season.

Other foods to consider are fat or suet balls which can be hung individually or placed in a specific suet or fat ball feeder but as with netted peanuts some people consider the netted fat balls to be a potential hazard. There are also a number of similar products available like bird cake or the filled half coconut shells.

Apple on feederApple is another food to consider, especially in the Winter. You can buy feeders that are designed to hold an apple, usually by skewering it, but in the picture here on the left the apple is partly cored and then spiked on top of the bird feeder station.

A number of birds will readily take apple. Blackbirds and Blue Tits are usually the main customers but you will also get Blackcaps, as shown here on the left, Parakeets, if you have them in your locality, or even Waxwings if you're very lucky.

One last thing to say about bird feeders: Do remember to clean them regularly. Dirty bird feeders can help transmit disease by passing it from bird to bird. Regular cleaning can help keep your birds healthy.