Are you fed up of crows feasting on your fat balls, pigeons pigging out or starling stopping smaller birds from eating? Then these tips to keep larger birds at bay could be right up your street.
Keep Your Ground Feed Guarded
Pigeons and the like will happily hoover up any food left upon the ground and on bird tables. Because of this ground feeding birds like robins and blackbirds are likely to be left with empty stomachs.
The best way to prevent this is through utilising a ground feeding table combined with an adjustable bird feeding station. Bear in mind that the largest you should make any one entrance is 6cm or 2.5 inches. This entrance size will allow blackbirds and any smaller birds to enter and feast away till their heart's content!
Have a look at our ground bird feeder cage for some ideas.
When placing food within the sanctuary it is best to leave a decent (10cm) gap between each entrance and the food. This prevents bigger birds from sticking their heads through the entrance holes and eating the food from outside of the sanctuary.
If you have dense shrubbery in your garden you can try placing bird food behind them. Smaller birds such as blackbirds, chaffinches and dunnocks will happily root around the undergrowth whereas larger birds are more inclined to eat food that they can easily access and often when food is hidden in shrubbery and bushes larger birds follow the saying "out of sight, out of mind”.
Even if you prevent large birds from eating your ground feed, they can still be relentless. Birds such as starlings and jackdaws will clamp onto feeders and seemingly drink their contents.
Even though pigeons find it hard to get a stable perch they will deliberately knock seed feeders from side to side, spilling a lot of the seed onto the ground. Sometimes they can knock the entire feeder onto the ground; this can instigate a ground feeding frenzy that will often damage the feeder.
One way to prevent larger birds from damaging feeders and eating all of the seed from them is to invest in a caged feeder. Caged feeders are designed to prevent big birds from reaching the food within, their wider handles are easier to firmly secure to a branch this prevents the feeder from swinging side to side and reduces the amount of seed larger birds can knock to the ground.
An alternative to buying a caged feeder is to make your own; this is less costly and relatively simple. You will need an existing seed feeder, one or two hanging baskets (depending on where you are placing your feeder) and some garden wire, these items are easy to acquire from most garden centres at a relatively low cost.
If you place your feeder against a hedge, you can attach one hanging basket against the hedge that covers the feeder. This will prevent large birds from accessing the feeder and will leave them no opportunity for knocking seeds to the ground.
If you hang your feeder from a tree or feeding station you will need to utilise two hanging baskets to create a cage around the feeder. To do so simply connect the two hanging baskets together with wire and place them around the feeder, creating a spherical cage. It is best to also connect the feeder to the hanging baskets; this will make it more stable reducing the amount of seed that can be knocked to the ground.
Pigeons, crows and other large birds are always looking for an easy meal. If you provide them with an easier meal than going to your feeders in the garden they are likely to take it.
Larger birds tend to prefer sitting and a greater height than smaller birds. This transfers to their eating habits too, if you provide food in higher areas such as on top of the garden shed, big birds will almost immediately show preference towards eating there.
Once you've gotten these bigger birds into this mindset they are less likely to bother with the food you provide in your lower garden leaving your smaller bird diners to eat in peace.
An easier alternative might be to place some food in a caged feeder and some open. The larger birds will be happy enough to leave the caged food alone!
Although these tips are specifically aimed at preventing larger birds from monopolising your bird food, it is always better to aim at supporting a harmonised garden bird society.
If smaller birds are left to feed freely there is likely to be plenty of food to go around. Pigeons, crows and jackdaws should not be demonised for being greedy but gently encouraged to change their behaviour.