“ Type: Bird House / Feeders / Wild Birds „
My garden backs onto a little copse of trees which can sometimes be the bane of my life, especially at this time of the year when they shed their leaves. To call this a copse is perhaps overstating it a bit and makes it sound far grander than it actually is but this stand of mature trees have been there far longer than the surrounding houses and lead unbroken to a more substantial piece of woodland further along the road. Although I sometimes regret the fact that these trees leave part of the garden in constant dappled shade, they also provide a great habitat for local wildlife, most of which finds its way into the garden. From the autumn through to high summer, there is a constant parade of squirrels, bats and hedgehogs, as well as a great variety of birds, both large and small.
I know it's very sad of me but I really get quite excited when I see something other than the usual run-of-the-mill blackbird, robin and blue tit visiting the garden. Currently we're being visited by nuthatches, jays, a spotted woodpecker and that increasingly rare visitor, the song thrush, not to mention a brief visitation from a couple of goldfinches. What beautiful and colourful birds they are!
I have a bird table in one corner of the garden which, like most bird tables, isn't squirrel or magpie proof so I wanted an alternative feeding source for the smaller birds such as the finches and tits and this feeding station was the perfect solution, as I decided that if I positioned it well away from the trees and the garden walls, it wouldn't be possible for the squirrels to raid it. I was wrong, but that's another story!
Price and availability:
Having seen how much they are currently selling for on Amazon, I think I rather overpaid. I bought my feeding station in a local garden centre for about £25 and these kits seem to be universally available in garden centres throughout the country. However, Argos is selling them for £22 and Amazon have the same thing for a very reasonable £17.17.
As the weather pundits are forecasting another hard winter, it seems it's going to be, yet again, a tough time for the birds so everyone who can, should make sure that they provide at least a little food to help them through and evem if you have limited space in your garden, you could do a lot worse than buy one of these feeding stations. The birds will certainly appreciate it.
This feeding station kit comes boxed and requires only a little bit of self-assembly and it's very simple to do. The pole is in several parts, which slot into each other and the feeding trays are attached to the pole by means of metal bands that are tightened by wing nuts. There are two slot in trays: one made of clear plastic for water (an essential for birds not just for drinking but also for keeping their plumage in tip top condition) and one in plastic coated mesh for larger food items such as bread and kitchen scraps. These trays being removable make it much easier to keep them clean.
The bottom end of the pole has a spike which is driven into the ground. I have to say that I found putting up the feeding station to be the most difficult part of the process. My first attempt, where I didn't have enough strength to be able to drive the spike far enough into the ground, resulted in a rather drunken list to the feeding station. I resolved this problem by dismantling the top part and hammering the spiked section into the ground first. I would add here that this is more stable when put into a lawned area rather than just soil. The grass roots seem to grab onto the pole and provide that extra bit of stability.
It's advisable to place this well away from shrubs and other places where cats can lurk.
Like most new things in the garden, it took the birds a while to get used to it but once they did, it resulted in a constant stream of visitors to the feeders. This feeding station is positioned in a place where it's easy to see from the living room and it provides hours of viewing pleasure and it's great to see the birds going about their daily lives.
There are down sides to this feeding station. Because the feeding tray is open, unlike the bird table which has a roof, larger birds see easy pickings. We have a considerable number of wood pigeons around who are darn big birds and each landing and take-off results in the feeding station wobbling quite considerably, sometimes slopping the water and food onto the ground. It also means that the pole needs to be straightened up every so often.
Another consequence of the uncovered feeding tray is that it's open to the elements. Even the birds turn their beaks up at soggy bread! However, last winter, when there was about a foot of snow on the ground, it was a simple matter to clear the snow from the feeding trays and provide the birds with some much needed nourishment.
This feeding station is not immune to visits from the dreaded squirrel either. We have lots a grey squirrels in the area who visit the garden. (When the children were little, we even had one who used to come and knock on the window for his daily nuts!) I had hoped that this feeding station would be impossible for them to reach because it has a long, slippery metal pole, but I misjudged just how far a squirrel can jump! As with the wood pigeons and other larger birds, each time the squirrels land, the pole gets knocked off centre.
Another problem with my bushy tailed visitors is that because the feeders just hang on the rather ornate wrought iron arms, it's easy for them to make off with the feeders to eat the nuts at their leisure, not to mention planting them all round the garden, so I would advise fixing them onto the hooks with garden wire and plenty of it!
All told, I'm very pleased with this addition to the garden, it's reasonably unobtrusive and provides plenty of space for a variety of different foods for the birds.
One final thing. I've discovered that the birds (at least those in my part of Berkshire) prefer home-made fat balls to the commercially made variety. These are very easy to make and I urge anyone interested in attracting birds into the garden to make their own. I've given my (sort of) recipe below.
Melted beef dripping or lard (if your moral standards oppose this, you can also use solid vegetable fat)
Stale breadcrumbs (preferably from a wholemeal or granary loaf)
Peanuts (chopped finely)
Mixed seeds (sunflower seeds, nigella seed, lentils etc)
Chopped dried fruit such as raisins, sultanas and currants
Dried suet (either beef or vegetable)
These ingredients can be added to or subtracted from according to what you have in the kitchen. It doesn't matter what you put in as long as there's enough fat to coat the dry ingredients and help them stick together.
Mix all the dried ingredients together and pour on the melted fat. Stir well and pack down into the receptacle of choice (yoghurt pots, small cups, half coconut shells, etc) and leave to set. If you don't have a fat ball holder, put the home-made fat balls into plastic fruit nets.
Word soon gets around the local bird population that there's good food on offer so just sit back and watch the birds flock into your garden to enjoy a banquet at the feeding station.
Elegant design, attracts wild birds, incorporates water and feed.