* Prices may differ from that shown
I just purchased my first house a few months ago and one of my first priorities was to make sure we got a bird feeder up and well stocked as soon as possible. I love birds, there is something about watching them that just relaxes you and there is nothing more satisfying than knowing you are helping a living thing live a little longer by providing it with food.
A bird feeder encourages birds to your garden to feed and nest. If you are a keen gardener, it also encourages them to stick around and they will be a natural predator to the many slugs that can destroy some vegetable plants!
This particular feeder is over 7 feet tall when planted into the ground, this keeps the birds at a good height away from any ground predators. The unit at the top has 4 hooks for feeders, you also get one further hook to hang lower down the feeder, a loop that holds a plastic water dish and finally a mesh dish which can hold larger seeds and bread.
Purchase: I bought mine from a local garden centre (I always believe in supporting your local shops wherever possible if financially ok to do so). It was actually cheaper this way than most online retailers - I paid £14.99 and it was advertised as half price down from £29.99.
Assembly: Following the instructions this took approximately 10 minutes to build. I recommend hammering down the first pole into the ground before adding the rest of the pieces - it is almost impossible to insert the feeder down to a low depth with it fully assembled as a simple push will not suffice, you will have to use a mallet for the bottom portion.
Use: You can use 5 hanging feeders with this in total which is a great number - I have a feeder shaped like an apple which holds nuts, a sunflower seed holder, a general seed holder, a Niger seed holder and a feeder which holds round fat balls. I would recommend using this variety of feeders as it attracts several different types of bird to your garden and not just one. I always keep the plastic dish filled with fresh water that they drink out of (put the least messy feeder above the water as this will stop it getting full of soggy seeds!). I use the mesh metal unit to put old bread on which usually gets taken by massive crows who take it a chunk at a time!
Make sure you keep an eye on the feeder, especially in high winds - it can move quite significantly when you wouldn't think it would. If it does then try to insert it deeper into the ground, if not you can always put a couple of bricks at the bottom to wedge it in place (my feeder has bricks at the bottom, they also catch falling seed that sparrows sometimes pluck up because they dont particularly like to land on the feeders).
Food should be used wisely - filling a particular feeder that isn't used much can result in wasted seed if nothing is coming for it. Soak bread in water before putting it out, birds and extremely dry bread do not mix well.
Have fun with your feeder! I think every garden should have one :)
Given that my garden seems to have a higher than average feline pawfall, I do sometimes wonder why I should think it appropriate to actively encourage birds to visit.
I could be drummed out of the RSPB if they ever found out that I was luring our feathered friends into such danger. But then, they need to eat (the birds, that is, not the cats) and although I may not need to watch them, it's something that I continue to find fascinating. They don't have to be rare species. I'll watch house sparrows. I'll watch that same, hulking great wood pigeon that comes every morning to nick all the bread. It doesn't matter. Although when my attention is caught as I pass by the window and I realise that the funny looking thing clinging to the nut feeder is a great spotted woodpecker, I do feel an extra frisson of excitement.
And so, risky though it may be, I shall continue to find ways to put food and water out for the birdies.
If you like doing this too, you might be interested in the Gardman Deluxe Bird Feeding Station.
Basically, this is a metal contraption that allows you to cluster a variety of food containers that will attract birds. It's a sort of a cross between a bird table and a tree.
What You Get
The central column of the feeder comes in three sections, giving a total height of seven feet five inches. Allowing for planting, this should give you about six feet above the ground, which is a good height. Don't worry about reaching, because the feeders will hang a little lower than this.
The top section has a fleur de lys finial and the four arms sprout out to present hooks for the bird feeders. An additional arm is supplied and can be attached lower down the pole. So already that's five bird feeders we can hang.
Also included are two support rings to take a large split level bird bath (sounds posh) and a micro mesh feeder tray that will take your scraps of bread etc without filling up with water.
In addition there's a hanger to which you can attach things like fat balls.
Putting it Up
Think carefully about where you want to put it. Too close to the house and you might find that you get few visitors. Too far away, or hidden from view and you won't get the pleasure of being able to see them.
Any cats in the area will soon hear the news that there's a new bird feeder in town, which presents a problem. On the one hand, you don't want to supply cover for Sylvester the Cat to lie in waiting for Tweety Pie (Remember the cartoon? Sylvester would look longingly at Tweety Pie, lick his lips and say, "Mornin', breakfasht!"). On the other hand, you DO want to supply cover for the birds, who might want the reassurance of knowing that they've got somewhere to flit to if disturbed, or somewhere to lurk while they summon up courage to have a go at your nigers (they're seeds). If there are trees in the vicinity, that's good.
Don't worry about squirrels, because they won't worry about you. They'll just take the stuff, given half a chance. Gardman do a squirrel baffle to prevent the squirrels climbing down the feeding stations, which helps to protect the open trays especially. On the other hand, these cost about £12, so how badly do you want to starve squirrels?
Drive the bottom section of the pole into the ground first and get that firmly fixed. THEN put the rest of the pole on top. It's much easier that way, enabling you to apply some downward force to get it rooted. Don't use a hammer, of course, or you'll damage the pole, but you could put something across the top, like a piece of wood and then use a mallet to hammer it down.
Do take care to get the lower piece in straight. If this isn't straight then the rest of it won't be, and you don't want a leaning tower of bird seed, do you?
The holders fasten onto the pole with wing nuts. It's all fairly straightforward.
If you want you can buy a patio stand for your feeding station, although it's hard to see why you would when it costs as much as the feeding station itself. If you only have hard standing available, you might consider planting the station in a deep tub of earth, It might be cheaper.
The pole is a heavy duty 25.5 cms and should endure. I had the simpler version originally and it has lasted well. This is made of stouter stuff, so should do even better. Rubber sheaths protect the joints from the weather and potential rusting. An occasional wipe with a damp cloth will tidy it up.
The plastic bird bath is the most vulnerable part as it is likely to crack with the freezing and thawing of water. You can get spares, but as far as I can see you have to buy the holder as well. The bird bath and the mesh food tray can both be washed up using detergent, but an anti-bacterial cleaner might be a good idea as bird diseases can easily spread.
You'll need to provide your own feeders, of course, e.g. seed and peanut feeders. There's quite a variety of these now, and you will want to put out different kinds of food to attract different kinds of birds. For instance, the tits will come and cling to the peanut cages, while the finches will perch on the seed feeders. Woody Wood Pigeon will come and plonk himself down wherever he can fit and eat anything he can reach.
You will find yourself with a store of various bird foodstuffs. Use watertight, airtight and mousetight containers to keep them in, like old biscuit tins or plastic tubs with lids.
Once you start to put out food for the birds, continue to do so. They will get used to coming to your feeders and begin to rely on them. This is especially true during the winter months when they could use a lot of energy to come to your garden only to find that there is nothing for them and possibly nothing else nearby.
You will need to replenish and/or change the food quite regularly, otherwise it will go off, so don't put out too much at once to avoid waste.
The RRP is £29.99 but they are available from £17.97 with various sellers through the net.
It's a good value item as it lasts and does provide a neat and convenient way of organising your bird feeders.
If you get it right, it will be the birds saying, "Mornin' breakfasht!" and not the cats!
Happy bird watching!
Our last house had a very small garden, overwhelmed with hedges. With not much space to play with, when it came to feeding the birds I needed something that could deal with everything I wanted kin one spot - hangers / bird bath etc.
This bird feeding station was perfect!
It stands at approximately 226 cm, a black, stainless steel pole (25.5mm dia) that crowns at the top with four inwardly curved hooks. Down the length of the pole are additional hooks and holes to allow other hangers to be added.
It comes with a round metal ring that slots into a metal "pocket". This ring is the support for a 'round plastic bird bath. Additionally there is also a wire mesh tray (apprx 22.5 cm dia) that also slots into a metal "pocket" and is good for things like mealworms where if it rains the tray doesn't fill up with water.
At the end of this feeder, the pole tapers to a point for driving into the ground. Once the feeder is pushed into the ground, the height above ground is approximately 185 cm.
Not too difficult, the poles slot together and the joins are covered with a special rubber "sock" that hides the joins and stops water etc getting into it that could cause rust.
It is best to leave the pointed ended unattached when assembling. Instead decide where you want your feeder to be (away from walls and areas that cats can climb on and thus fling themselves at the birds!) and then place the pointy bottom on the ground, use a piece of work on top and wallop it with a rubber mallet.
(Believe me doing it that way is a LOT either than putting the whole thing together then trying to drive it deep enough into the earth)
When it's in deep enough, put the fully assembled pole into it, making sure it's not skewed. Depending on how many birds you get (eg lots of heavy wood pigeons you might want to add some bricks around the bottom for security). We did this, after several crows and pigeons ventured onto the feeder and all sat on the same side!
You can get a stand for it, where there is a large round metal "foot" that means it can be stood on a patio or stone area - anywhere you couldn't pierce the ground with the point. However this can mean you have a lot of bird "mess" on your patio. So be warned.
The feeder station can take hanging feeders on the top hooks, I like that there are four as it gives you an option for different ones such as suet ball holders, domed holders, caged holders that only allow small birds in etc
Further down is a single hook. This can be used for a number of things but I think was designed for holding the barley twist fat snax hanger hook. This is a long metal pole with several small hooks coming from it which netted suet balls can be individually hooked on. I personally do not use this as I have found birds can get their little feet caught in the netting. Instead I strip any netting off and hang them in a designated cage feeder at the top.
Instead we use the single hook to hang wire spirals full of "bedding" during nesting season or sometimes a feeder full of peanuts.
The bird bath is a white plastic dish, stepped and not too deep. It can be good, however with feeders just above it gets dirty VERY quickly and often has seed/mealworms cast into it from above. If can be used as a seed tray instead, if you decide that a birdbath is getting too grubby.
[Cleaning / Weathering]
The pole itself never really gets that messy. However be aware that wherever you stand it, there will be a lot of cast off and bird mess on the floor around it, so in a lawn is best where it can fertilise the grass. The bird bath and mesh tray can be easily removed and cleaned (hot soapy water / special bird cleaner - after all disease in birds is often spread via dirty feeders) The pole can be rubbed down with a rag and hot water though you are not likely to need to do that very often.
We have had ours for over 6 years, and have moved house (always taken it). At the present location it stands in the centre of our very open garden so is often hit by winds. It barely moves (though the feeders will sometimes unhook themselves in very strong winds) and it weathers fine, have not even seen any rust on it and it has been out in all weathers!
Since getting it, this station has fed a variety of birds large and small from tits and sparrows to jackdaws, woodpeckers and rooks.
With the exception of the slight shift due to excessive pigeon weight all on one side, this feeder station has stood up against an array of birds in huge flocks (32 starlings on at once!) It allows us to cater to large and small birds and to make sure everyone is fed fairly (hanger hooks allow for our dome feeder than can be adjusted so only little birds can get in).
This feeder station has been a real boon when doing the RSPB's January Big Garden Bird Watch as they all use it and are easily drawn to it with all the different foods we supply.
The prices I have seen are from £16.99 (Amazon) up to £29.99 (possibly even higher). However unless you are getting a lot of extras, you really don't have to spend too much. We got ours from a Gardening catalogue at £18.99 and it's been going strong for 6 years.
An excellent purchase and if our garden was bigger I'd have another. Highly recommended to those who like watching/feeding garden birds
Although we are not very keen on pets in our house (well, me and my husband - my daughters would love a pet) we do like to see birds in the garden and over the years we seem to have spent a small fortune on bird food and feeders etc. We've had a few wooden bird tables in the past but they seem to get very weather beaten and have a tendency to topple over in strong winds. Because of this, we have just bought, as a replacement for a traditional bird table, a Gardman deluxe wild bird feeder station. Gardman do seem to be the leading brand as far as bird feeding equipment is concerned so we felt quite confident that it would be a good quality.
Instead of being made from wood, the deluxe bird feeder is metal and has a central pole that is stuck in the ground. The pole is heavy duty and comes in three sections that fit together quite easily and uses wing-nuts that are provided. The pole is quite tall as it measures 226cm (7ft 5inches). The height above the ground is only 185cm though which means that a significant length of pole is below ground keeping everything firmly wedged in place with no danger of anything falling over. Now, there are a couple of things to bear in mind when placing the pole in the ground. First it is not going to be eay if the ground is hard and also it might be better to put the pieces together after you have set the bottom section in place. My husband actually found that he needed a hefty mallet to drive it down to the correct level - 40 cm is quite a significant depth to get it down to!
Secondly, it is a bit of a challenge but you do want to try to get the pole as vertical as possible and that is a bit hard to tell until it is all in place. Our pole seems to be very slightly at an angle which is somewhat annoying but we can put up with it as we do not want to have to go through the agonies of repositioning the bottom section!
Obviously the bird feeding station does not only consist of a pole! There is a decorative four way hanger at the top in the style of a fleur-de-lis. These are great for hanging various different bird feeders with a variety of seeds and nuts. Unfortunately these are not provided so you will have to buy them separately. However, there are some extras that are provided and these include a bird bath support ring and large bird bath with 2 bathing levels for small and large birds. This does not have the capacity for much water though and as I have already told you that are feeder is slightly tilted you can guess that we have a small problem with this. There is also a small feeder hook with an integral decorative fat ball hanger and a large round micro mesh feeder tray. I can't quite understand why they didn't include a couple of feeders too even if it would have meant making it slightly more expensive.
Overall though this is a pretty good feeding station and it looks lovely in the garden. Also, although we have not had it long you can tell it is good quality and is likely to stand up to the weather well. More importantly, it is attracting the birds too although that is probably more down to the type of food that we are putting out! It is lovely to have a bit of a birdfest in the garden especially now it is lighter and sunnier. It is not that expensive either as it is currently selling on Amazon for only £15.99 (April 2011) which I think is very good value. We bought ours at a local garden centre for slightly more but at least we did get to take it home straight away!
It is one of the major joys of a garden that it brings such beauty before our eyes. Of course, you would normally think of that beauty in terms of the plants that grow there, the flowers, the shrubs, the trees. Especially when you live, as we do, on the edge of open countryside, it also includes the animals and especially the birds who visit in search of things to eat and drink and places to raise their young.
For many years we have had a bird table and a bird bath in the garden and we have had great enjoyment watch the birds arrive to drink, bathe and to eat the food put out for them. The range of birds we enjoy is extensive, including: great tits, blue tits, coal tits, robins, greenfinches, wood pigeons, collared doves, jays, crows, blackbirds, magpies and the occasional greater spotted woodpecker. Many of these we have recorded in the annual RSPB garden survey although many are infrequent visitors and so don't get counted.
The problem with the bird table though is that it doesn't provide any protection against the raids by grey squirrels, of which we seem to have a never ending number. The squirrels have a voracious appetite and devour most of what we put out. To help even up the battle we have also bought various "squirrel-proof" food dispensers that we have hung from the table and which have proved to be somewhat effective.
However, last summer, whilst we were sitting in the garden enjoying the sun, we noticed something eating the peanuts and it wasn't a bird. A pair of binoculars revealed it to be a what was probably a field mouse or something of that sort. So, now we have a new problem, which would require a different solution.
We had already bought a support for a covered food dispenser especially intended for robins. It's like a shepherd's crook and has a squirrel baffle to try prevent squirrels climbing up the stem. It is not entirely effective as some squirrels have learned to leap above the baffle to raid the food. It's an impressive bit of athletic ability: they have to jump about three times their own height!
So, we needed something more of a challenge.
I found the Guardman De Luxe Bird Feeder Station in B&Q for around £18 and it seemed like it would form the basis of a satisfactory solution. It's height (around 6' to the top when planted in the ground) would hold the various bird feeders hung from it high enough to prevent squirrels and other rodents from jumping to them, and by attaching a baffle to the stem around 3' off of the ground would prevent them reaching the food by climbing up the stem.
The feeder station is topped with four hooked branches from which peanut and bird seed dispensers can be hung. In addition it has a stem with hooks from which fat balls can be hung. It also has a gauze tray on which food scraps can be put so that they don't get soggy from the rain, which drains away through the bottom, and a plastic water dish, although I'm sure our birds will continue to use the bird bath.
So far this new addition to our garden has proved very effective. The birds now enjoy the food undisturbed, other than by their own rivals, and several squirrels and other creatures have tried and failed to get to the food by jumping or climbing up the stem. We are looking forward to the summer, to see who will be visiting us and our new garden feature.