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Bird Feeders and Boredom (1 Viewer)

Unfortunately my birding has been under attack recently. A combination of caring for my wife who has been ill for the last five weeks bless her, bad weather and now having to isolate between PCR test and a visit to the hospital myself this week has confined me very much to quarters!

Of course there is always the backyard. And here is where I thought I would share a few discoveries which will perhaps be general knowledge for some, but for others perhaps struggling with bird feeders lacking a variety of visitors may give some hope or even help.

Firstly our backyard is just that, although a rather nice patio of around 20 square feet with a borders down one side and plant pots providing the only foliage. It does however ever have a few positives. It backs on to miles of rolling Cornish farmland and a small wood not far off. also the wall between ourselves and our neighbours is overgrown by ivy and wild honeysuckle offering plenty of coverage for small birds......cue House Sparrows. These little darlings have since we moved in four years ago and, obviously immediately installed bird table and feeders have taken over the latter making it very much their own, muscling out the competition by sheer numbers, and what can only be described as a gangland territorial attitude to any other birds that try to muscle in. In other words "Go away this is our grub and if you have a problem you can take it up with me and the boys here!"

The result is I see many birds over the back wall and passing by but have feared that word has got around about the Sparrow gang and so have avoided paying us a visit despite my attempts with all kinds of food and feeders which are not so Sparrow friendly. I even set the hanging feeder and bird table apart in the hope that the Sparrows would stick to one and leave the other, all to no avail.

My particular hope was to attract the Goldfinches, (well who wouldn't?), which are easily viewed in the hedges over the back and often visit the neighbours, but have always avoided us, perhaps due to the aforementioned problem? I have of course tried Nyger seed and all other Goldfinch tempting delights, all without success. That is until the last week. Things have changed dramatically, not only have the Goldfinches become frequent and daily visitors, but also a family of Blue Tits, Coal Tits, Great Tits, Blackcaps, and more have suddenly been flocking to our feeders, so much so there is barely a minute of the day when there aren't one or several new visitors making the most of our offerings.

What changed? Well I will share my latest, and finally it appears, successful attempt at tempting a larger variety of our feathered friends to the feast.

Whilst perched by the kitchen window one, I would say fine, but that would be an exaggeration, let's be honest, one bleak morning last week, hoping rather aimlessly for a stranger to drop in on the feeders amongst the sparrows I decided to have another go at making a few changes.

Firstly I moved the feeders further apart, placing the bird table under the ivy and honeysuckle hedge, next to the Sparrow Mob's daily hangout, hoping the convenience of the food on hand would distract them a bit from the hanging feeders. Secondly I raised the hanging feeder as high as I dare whilst maintaining a firm mounting for the ground spikes given that for those that know Cornwall well, we are subjected to frequent high winds over 50mph (indeed the weekend has seen just such winds for two days and I am happy to report feeder despite swaying precariously at times, remains firmly standing. Although we live some way from Newquay it's no coincidence that the well known town was once called Town Blystra in Cornish, literally translated as 'Blowy Hill', we rather prefer the not so literal translation of 'Windy Place' but that is not perhaps the best name for tourist advertising, though I am not sure that was the exact reason for the name change.

Anyway I digress, back to the feeders. So with the hanging feeder now hopefully far enough removed from the bird table and the Sparrow Mob taking advantage of a short hop to their own local restaurant, and the feeders hanging so high that to replace them I have to hold them by the base and hook them up, I waited to see if anyone would notice.

It was only a few hours before a Goldfinch dropped by and discovered the sunflower hearts, shortly after a Blue Tit came to sampled the chopped peanuts (I have found over the years Blue Tits seem to enjoy chopped nuts much more than whole, I still buy them whole as they are cheaper, but nothing a lump hammer can't sort out. Since then we have as mentioned above enjoyed a host of new visitors and growing each day.

The moral of the story, apart from me rambling away to you to pass another day in isolation, if you are struggling with attracting birds to your feeders, even if you lack the space and trees etc as we do, don't give up, experiment, and in particular, perhaps get your feeders as high as possible away from potential ground predators and high enough to stand out. And if you have a Sparrow problem as we do, try and find their hangout and provide enough food to keep them happy and away from other feeders, in our case this does mean filling the seed feeder in particular almost daily as they are quite capable of emptying it in just a few hours, but whilst they are busy there, we are enjoying our new friends on the new (well to them), restaurant in the area, and they seem to like it.

Food served daily 24 hours include no mess seed mix, sunflower hearts, nyger seed, crushed peanuts, fat balls, berry flavoured (at the moment) suet blocks, sultanas, mealworms and fresh water to wash it all down.

Hopefully by the next time I write I will have actually gone out and done some wild birding, have been rather frustrated at some of the local news on RBA and keen to get out and see some of the more interesting visitors to the area before they disappear, particularly a Yellow Browed Warbler barely 12 miles away from me. Hoping it's still around later in the week when my new camera arrives and perhaps if I can figure out how to use the thing I can post a photo.

Till then happy birding to all.
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