Wildlife Wednesday: Feeding the birds

Last weekend I put up the bird feeders in front of the house as I got some new seed and fat balls for a good price on the internet. Even though Dave and I are on a budget we feel that buying bird food for the wild birds is justifiable and more so, rewarding.  I love birds and thoroughly enjoying watching them gorge themselves and observing their behaviour. I find it very therapeutic and could spend hours sitting on the sofa looking out the window.

At this time of year the number of species abundant in the wood drops as many birds, such as the spotted flycatchers, chiffchaffs and willow warblers, migrate south for the winter. Many species remain all year including blue tits, great tits, marsh tits, coal tits, robins, dunnocks, blackbirds and wrens. The feeders are suspended from an oak and the acorns attract the aloof yet very vocal jays at this time of year. In the summer months we hardly see them.

In the summer nonmigratory species move into the wood temporarily to nest, such as gold finches, song thrushes, gold crests and bullfinches. However, as soon as the nesting season is over they move on.

My favourite visitors are the great-spotted woodpeckers which have gained confidence to come to the feeders over the years. Any sudden movements spook them away but if we stay still they cautious peck away at the fat balls and peanuts. I borrowed a zoom lens from work to have a go at capturing some birds on camera as they feed.  I even managed to stay still long enough for the woodpecker to come onto the fat balls!

Two great tits


Marsh tit

 Marsh tit and great-spotted woodpecker

If you are thinking of getting some feeders for the birds in your garden or yard I recommend a few different types to accommodate different species. Robins, blackbirds wrens and dunnocks mostly feed on the ground and therefore are happy to pick up any seed that has fallen from the feeders above. Robins and blackbirds will use feeders that have a perch to stand on while they feed as they can’t cling to wire mesh as well as tits can. Robins and blackbirds will bully tits away from feeders so it makes sense to have a feeder that the tits an cling to but the bigger birds can’t. I love fat balls because they are easy and fairly mess-free to get in to feeders and they attract a range of species.

The RSPB advise against fat balls that are individually netted as they can get tangled around tiny bird feet. Netless balls work out cheaper when purchased in large tubs of 25 or 50. The RSPB sell tubs of 50 for £11.50 with 100% of profits going back into the conservation work they do. If you need a cheaper option, Feedem have an offer on for 50 balls at just £6.75 at the moment.

PS. Do you feed the birds? If so, which species visit your feeders?

By Jenni Tulip

I'm a bright-haired, hill walking, magpie whispering, skull collecting, tree hugging, money saving, bird watching, happy campervanning, ferret fanatic, woodland dweller sharing my stories and passion for the outdoors to inspire you to immerse yourself in nature.

  • I just cut the bags off bagged fat balls, that way you can get sued cheap ones from Pound land etc but not hurt the birdies xx

  • Hello from Sydney,

    Great pictures of your birds, my wife & I also love to feed the wild birds in our back yard. We live on the southern edge of Sydney in a very bushy area (we have a creek in front of the house) so we get a large variety of birds, Cockatoos, King parrots, Rainbow Lorrikeets, Bower Birds, Wattle birds to name a few. We buy 20Kg sacks of seed for the parrots, they have a bigger appetite than your finches & woodpeckers! We are also very fond of the black & white birds we get in our yard, magpies (which look very different to English maggies), Currawongs and Willie Wagtails. We even named our house "Pied Cottage"

  • My wife and daughter love birds. I think my daughter is about your age. When she was a little girl, she would find waifs fallen from the nest, and had great success raising them. Here we have chickens, and when I feed them the tiny birds gather in the trees around the chickens. When the chickens wander off, the squabble for the remnants begins! We also have hawks here, and massive crows. I can always tell when they are about because the chickens start squawking, running out of the meadow, and hiding in the underbrush.

  • I love your final photo if the woodpecker flapping it's wings!
    We get a fair few birds in our garden. My favourites are the long tailed tits (flying badgers) and our star spot has been a greater spotted woodpecker and a tree creeper. 🙂

  • Lovely blog! You have caught that woodpecker really brilliantly – it's wings look fantastic!! Your field vole photos are fab too! Such a cute little critter! I hope to visit your site again soon, but I have been pretty absent from blogging recently (only just replied to your comment on my Cornwall post!) so please don't be offended if you don't hear from me again soon 🙂

  • I would like to win the Ceder Bird Box