“ Brand: Tom Chambers / Type: Wild Bird Feed „
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A few weeks before the recent cold snap, we decided that we should do the responsible thing and stock up on bird food. I spotted some 2Kg bags of Tom Chambers Daily Seed Blend on a 'buy one get one free' offer in our local garden centre, and decided to take them up on it. I didn't look in great detail at the mix at that point, but it seemed to be moving freely in the bag and I could see a bit of a variety in the contents, so I assumed that it would be fine, and filled up both of our seed feeders with it. Our local bird population has a habit of emptying the feeders pretty fast and generally don't seem to be too fussy!
It states that it is suitable for seed feeders, ground feeders or bird tables, that it is a "well balanced and nutritious mix", and that it is "attractive to a wide variety of birds", then goes on to list the titmice and various finches, picturing a bullfinch proudly on the front of the bag.
We waited. Normally we have a fairly good pass-through of Great Tits, Blue Tits, Long-Tailed Tits and Coal Tits and they tend to visit the feeders quite regularly, as do the Sparrows and the Robin, with the Dunnocks, Blackbirds and Wood Pigeons tidying up underneath. They'll empty the feeders in a couple of days sometimes so I was feeling well prepared with my two 2Kg bags. They came and looked at the feeders, had a bit of a peck, and flew off again. Then they pretty much ignored them through a patch of very wet weather, during which time water got into both feeders and the seeds formed a solid mass at the bottom, blocking the holes. So I cleaned them both out thoroughly, re-filled them, and waited again as the snow fell. One pair of Great Tits came and had some of the seeds, but that was pretty much it. We had plenty of 'stop-overs' in the tops of the trees, but no customers at the bar.
I have put some of the seed down on the ground since the snow thawed but nothing has cleared it up. It's been down there now for over a week, not even the mice or the pigeons have been in for it. It has me puzzled, since in the bag it has no smell of mould or anything like that. I can only conclude that this seed mix isn't AS attractive to our bird population as the food that everyone else is supplying locally. We have seen a pair of Dunnocks pecking around the periphery briefly, but that's it so far - I'd be more than happy to have my scepticism proven wrong by the pigeons swooping in and hoovering up the lot before it all starts to take root!
I have now bought a bag of a brand of seed that I know they have ravenously devoured in the past (Field Fayre Wild Bird Food All Season's Mix) that is readily available at our local Tesco. I'm hoping that it will tempt our feathered friends back. One thing that stood out for me as I opened the bag of their usual food was the aroma - it smells appetising, almost like muesli, whereas the Tom Chambers food has almost no detectable aroma at all (I checked with my husband and he agreed, in case it was my faulty nose ). Their usual food also has a far greater variety of seed in it, or at least a more even balance of ingredients, with a lot of sunflower seeds rather than just a few, and larger pieces of maize as well. Generally comparing the two has made me realise how uniform the individual bits in the Chambers food are in size, and how unbalanced the mix is. I believe from reading a press release that I found online from a few years back, the intention with this mix was to go for fewer 'cheap filler' ingredients such as sunflower seeds. Trouble is of course that the birds like them.... I have also seen since that their 'classic' mix actually has a far more diverse appearance, so with hindsight I would have bought those instead if I'd realised.
Having thrown away half a bag due to the food being ignored and getting 'old' out in the open air, I'm inclined to avoid this brand in future, and the 'special' offer does sadly seem to have been a false economy. I hope that this has been successful in other people's gardens, but it does make me wonder why they have so many special offers. The 'buy one get one' wasn't a store offer, but a brand one with it actually printed on the bag. Currently their website is advertising 20% free on the 2Kg bags. I'm afraid that from our experience over the last couple of months, our wild birds haven't recommended this product.