“ 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.
There is nothing quite like the 'dawn chorus,' or sight of birds breakfasting in the garden, to give a warm feeling of oneness with nature.
For many years now, I have hung bird feeders from the branches of a small tree in my back garden; the outer ones are a little flimsy, so to prevent damaging the twig-like structures, the feeders had to be hung from thicker branches closer to the trunk.
No problem, you might think, but the tree had other ideas. If it didn't poke me in the eye, it yanked at my hair, tore at my clothes or deposited leaves, plus any resident insects, down the back of my neck, as I wrestled my way through the jungle of twig-lets to get to the thicker branches. Not quite the Whomping Willow of Hogwarts, but still giving a very good impression of it at times.
I feed my birds all year round, not just in the winter and when the tree is in leaf and blossom, the battle between it and myself would often result in us both suffering 'war wounds,' albeit it minor ones, scratches for me and broken twigs for my tree.
Fortunately the war between us ended last year when I purchased the Chapelwood Superior Wild Bird Feeding Station Kit, advertised on Amazon, for which I paid £15, on special offer.
My bird station kit arrived within a week of my ordering from Amazon, packaged in a flat cardboard container on which was listed its contents along with pictures of the unit when constructed.
The station was very simple to build, made of matt-black wrought iron; the main stem was in four 2cm diameter sections which screwed together to form a 7 foot high, attractive framework on which feeders could be hung.
The bottom section ends in two, 26cm spikes set about 20cms apart which, when pushed into the ground, anchor the bird station firmly in position. The two middle sections were simple rods, the top section has a decorative ferrule and on each side of the rod attractive curlicues, on which the feeders are hung, spread outwards from the centre.
Included in the package was an extra curved arm from which more feeders can be hung, and two, 18cm diameter hoops, each welded to separate, short hollow rods through which the main stem of the station is threaded; the arm and hoops are held firmly in position by wing-nuts. One hoop holds the clear plastic water tray and the other hoop holds the black metal, mesh tray for nuts or any bird food big enough not to slip through the mesh. Both trays were included in the kit.
It took me about 5 minutes to construct the bird station and place in a position close to my budding Whomping Willow. The spikes slid easily into the soil and I arranged the trays and additional arm to the mid section of the frame; hung my feeders and filled the trays, then sat back and watched in anticipation as the birds began to discover their new restaurant. It wasn't long before they began investigating the structure and were soon feeding happily.
I found though, that during the winter months when the ground was soft and the larger birds landed on the curlicues, the station began leaning precariously and needed straightening frequently, the trays also tended to droop towards the ground, spilling half their contents, and no matter where I positioned them, bird seeds always seemed to land up in the water tray and bird droppings in the seed tray. I felt that because there were only two spikes to hold the whole framework upright, it was not as stable on my lawn, as it would have been were there four spikes positioned at right angles to each other and perhaps set further apart.
To solve the problems of instability and mess, all I did was to remove one of the mid section rods and both trays, reducing the height to about 5 feet and eliminating the need to clean and replenish the trays every few hours. I left the hoops in position for they were still useful as feeder holders or perches.
Apart from the obvious convenience of being able to reach and fill the feeders more easily; what I like about this Chapelwood bird station, is that it is virtually maintenance free in that it doesn't need painting or cleaning, it enhances the look of the garden, shows no sign of rusting, even after one hard, soggy winter, and finally, I suspect that vermin would find it very difficult to climb the narrow rods to reach the food - but wouldn't like to bet on it.
For me, the one big advantage of installing the Chapelwood Superior, Wild Bird feeding station, is that it is so much easier to observe the feeding habits of the little critters, for when they are feeding in the tree, they were often obscured by foliage and blossom, and needless to say, although I cannot speak for my tree, I am happy that peace now reigns between us.
I have had this in my garden now for a year. Much to my delight it has attracted all kinds of birds, mainly hedge sparrows, a pair of pigeons, a pair of doves and some starlings, a robin, blackbird, coal tits and blue tits. The wonderful thing is that all the baby sparrows are now feeding here and the pigeons have returned with their two babies to feed. I counted 24 sparrows feeding and queuing to feed...wonderful sight.
The pigeon population and sparrow population I seem to be feeding now have increased enormously.
June; 2013: I am feeding the whole sparrow population it seems a mix of house sparrows and hedge sparrows, feeding alongside pigeons, and doves, the occasional blackbird and robin. Now starlings have discovered the station.
Elegant design, attracts wild birds, incorporates water and feed.