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Something that is a garden feature essential in our household is birds in the garden. This is as not only are they pretty to look at and listen to but they help keep some nasty beasties at bay. The best way to get some birds in to your garden is to feed them and this is where this fat ball feeder comes in.
In our rear garden our cat is often know to snooze and watch for birds so all of our bird feeders are in the front garden which she is less partial too as there is no grass to sunbathe on.
What is it and in use
This is a wire cage really with a closing lid to it and a metal loop at the top to hang over branches in trees or on bird feeding table/station. The design of the lid is a soft click that you push down and this works a treat. I find it really easy to open and close by pushing and lifting the tab. By having a closed lid this is to stop birds getting trapped inside the feeder and we have never had on stuck inside.
The company says the open cage design is supposed to make it easier for the birds to get to the fat balls and this certainly is the case. My criticism though of such an open design is that this makes it easy for our local pigeons and crows to fly at the feeder when it is nearly empty to knock it. What this means is that as the fat balls have got smaller they then fall out of the feeder to the ground ready for the greedy pigeon or crow to take a large chunk of fat ball and fly away with it. This I think means that we get through the fat balls a bit quick as once the birds have got the fat ball nice and small those clever crows move in for the fat balls.
The design of this comes in two sizes one for a 4 balls and one for 7 balls ours is the 4 ball design and I find that it takes the 4 balls nicely and when putting the balls into the feeder they don't break up as I place them into the feeder which is good for my kitchen surfaces.
We have several bird feeders but this one is one of the most popular with some of the small birds such as blue tits, robins and wagtails my son at three loves watching these birds in the morning fly in for breakfast and we often use our small bird book to identify them. The local starlings always seem to descend on the feeder on mass at the same time in the morning.
We hang ours off a cherry tree and this allows the birds to perch on the tree to feed from the feeder. The loop at the top of the feeder fits over one of the small branches that we had cut back several years ago and the camouflage of the leaves and blossom in the spring and summer seems to help encourage them to the garden but not doesn't provide so much coverage that we can't watch them.
We bought ours from Pets at Home as this is where we buy a lot of pet and bird food and we tend to use the fat balls they sell there and these fit in nicely. This is a basic design feeder so it's not a thing of beauty but the birds it attracts certainty are. At £2.49 for the feeder I think this is a great buy to encourage wild birds into your garden just watch out for those cheeky crows.
At the end of last Summer, a pet shop where I live were selling off some of their bird feeders and I purchased one of these Suet Ball feeders from them for £2.50, which I still think is a decent price. The reason I chose this one over some of the others is the fact that it's for suet balls, or fat balls as we call them at home, and my kids were taught how to make these in school. So now we make our own suet/fat balls using lots of bird friendly nuts and seeds - left over kitchen fat can be saved to make these and my kids like seeing the birds feed off something they've made.
The ball feeder itself is basically a tall cylindrical wire cage, with the wires which mesh around the outside coated in plastic to make them more durable to the weather. The bars of the cage are quite far apart (1-2cm) as unlike with nuts, the fat balls can't fall out. On top of the feeder there's a metal lid which slides up the metal hoop hanger above it so you can lift it up to put the fat balls in. The feeder can be hung up by the metal hanger at the top of the device, in our case it's threaded through the washing line to try to deter the squirrels from getting at it.
The birds really like the fat balls within the feeder (sold seperately or can be made at home as we do), and there are plenty of metal rings running around the feeder for them to perch on whilst they peck at the fat balls.
I doubt this feeder is squirrel proof, just because the holes are big enough for a squirrel to grab the fat through or get their snouts through, but most feeders this cheap aren't squirrel proof. I've never actually seen any squirrels on my feeder though, just lots of birds!
Overall, I'm pleased with this purchase. It was cheap and it does the job it is intended to, holding fat balls well. For the price I paid I'm happy with it, and it is durable to boot.