Bird feeders, what food?

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  • Bird feeders, what food?
  • Premier Icon stevied

    Our old, very small, garden was surrounded by houses with cats so didn’t want to encourage birds.

    Our new garden is big and no cats around so I’m looking to encourage birds in.

    Going to get an Aldi feeder station with various holders but what’s the best things to put in?

    I’ve also just made a couple of nesting boxes to put out ready for use. Great, simple plans here, if you want to make your own:


    Nuts and only nuts for me.


    We get through 40kg of Sunflower hearts every year, birds and Hedgehogs love them.


    If you look around there’s loads saying this feed for tha birtd type etc but it’s all trial and error. Goldfinches are suppsed to love nyjer seeds, but we ONLY use sunflower hearts and we get loads (Mrs NBT counted 21 different bird species in our suburban garden last week). We do get through a lot though – a 12.5 kg sack of seed lasts maybe 6 weeks…


    Peanuts for tits, sunflower hearts for finches and everything else. Though as said above, it varies anyway. Fat balls used to be popular in another house 30 miles away but we can’t get rid of them here.


    If you look around there’s loads saying this feed for tha birtd type etc but it’s all trial and error. Goldfinches are suppsed to love nyjer seeds, but we ONLY use sunflower hearts and we get loads


    Nijer seeds just rotted in their feeder, the finches only eat Sun flower hearts.

    [url=]DSC_8776[/url] by Ben Freeman, on Flickr

    Dead cats.

    Will attract vultures and discourage  live cats, therefore making your garden a haven for baby robins.


    Sunflower hearts,peanuts,fatballs and those half coconuts with the fat in. The fatty stuff does encourage the bigger birds so we try and put that further into a hedge so only the small ones can get at it. All this food though does encourage a Sparrowhawk to be make occasional visits.


    Our squirrels have got more and more ingenious and can now destroy just about any Squirrel proof feeder. The only ones they’ve failed so far with are Walter Harrison feeders which are all metal, so can’t be chewed to pieces.


    I’ve found it varies over the year. For much of the summer we found a lot of activity on the fat balls and blocks, despite the theory that in summer it’s all about eating insects while the fat balls are for winter. I bought a niger feeder on impulse a couple of months ago and nothing touched it until this morning when I went out and saw two goldfinches on it. It was half finished.

    Don’t forget to clean your feeders regularly to stop disease spreading.

    Squirrels are the problem round here. They will get into anything except the feeders with a cage round them, and they will gnaw a bigger hole in the plastic niger feeders. Dangling them from very long wires won’t stop them (the feeders, I mean. Dangle the squirrels from long wires and they might think twice about coming back). However squirrel numbers do seem to fluctuate and they haven’t been a big problem for the last couple of years.

    Premier Icon wwaswas

    We use fat balls – seeds in a lard paste – about 5cm across

    Only problem is the squirrels worked out how to steal them. Saw a couple heading off down the garden holding one under an ‘arm’. Fat balls turned up buried in one of the grow bags down by the shed.

    So squirrel proof any feeders and make sure cats can’t reach them.

    Put out nyger seeds and got greenfinches a couple of days later, then goldfinches.  If I forget to fill it, they disappear and don’t come back till it’s refilled.  I don’t know who likes the fat filled half coconuts but they go in no time (and the coconuts are great for starting a fire)

    Premier Icon stevied

    I might just oil the pole:


    Stevied – the oiled pole – dear God, that is properly, properly funny. Well done your mum!

    Premier Icon funkmasterp

    Doesn’t matter what I use. The **** ASBO gang of Jackdaws eat everything within half an hour. Bastards!

    How can I attract squirrels?  That is brilliant


    How do you get rid of magpies without killing them? Have had 6-8 of them all year in the garden and they seem to have scared away everything else.

    Premier Icon bikebouy

    Sunflower hearts and the small bird mix seed go in my 7 feeders!

    I get through about 3 large bags of each a month.

    Birds literally flock to the garden twice a day, scoff till they can’t move them go to sleep in the large tree at the end of the garden.

    Cats I’ve got those sonic boom things from the garden center and they seem to work really well. Also throwing stones at them works well if your aim is good.

    And a hose, obviously.


    As nbt says we use sunflower hearts and those fat blocks that contain berries or insects. Everything is in a squirrel proof feeder. RSPB do a good feeder with a spring locking system, meaning that anything heavy such as a squirrel, parakeet or pigeon can’t get to the food.

    If possible put the feeder about 1 metre away from shelter (tree, bush or hedge). This gives them space to look around for attackers and shelter to quickly dive into.

    Enjoy and let us know how you get on.

    Oh and one last thing always put out fresh water nearby, this can be in a bird bath or shallow dish for bathing and drinking.


    Ive got nyjer for goldfinches, sunflower for the greenfinches and bullfinches (shell on they seem to last a bit longer) and a mix for the rest. Took a good year though and a couple of different places for the feeder before we got a lot of birds


    Sunflower hearts go well, I tried a whole bunch of different fat balls, they were all pecked at, then went mouldy. As a last resort I bought some suet pellets with mealworms I spotted in Wilco’s and put them into a peanut feeder. Nothing seemed to happen for a while, then I noticed bits on the ground and half the feeder had gone. Seems the local sparrow herd had noticed them, and then the starlings, neither of which had been regular visitors for ages.

    Then we noticed, sitting outside quite late while my g/f was having a ciggy that the hedgehogs were taking a keen interest in the suet pellets, so I started putting some down especially for them, then the blackbirds, the robins and chaffinches were going for them as well. Now I’ve got a hedgehog restaurant set up, a large paving slab on three bricks, with saucers underneath, with a mix of suet pellets, kitty kibbles and mealworms, a bird table with suet pellets and mealworms, and a bunch of feeders with sunflower hearts and suet pellets. It’s costing me a small bloody fortune, about £20 a month or so!

    I’ll be glad when the hedgehogs hibernate, but I’ve got to fabricate some sleeping quarters out of old flowerpots first, we’ve got four hedgehogs as regular visitors, two are this year’s hoglets, and I won’t be too surprised if there aren’t a couple more next year. There’s also a whole bunch of this year’s goldfinch, sparrow and starling hatching raiding the feeders, plus a magpie was on the bird table this morning.

    Oh yeah, we had a pair of goldcrests around as well. Then there’s the pigeons, although I believe at least one has been had by the local cat.

    If possible put the feeder about 1 metre away from shelter (tree, bush or hedge). This gives them space to look around for attackers and shelter to quickly dive into.

    My feeders are all hung inside an Acer Palmatum that’s now about 12’ high, and the inside of the tree is empty of leaves, so is perfect for hanging a bunch of feeders in. The birds seem to love it, they can fly in through gaps in the leaves, and perch on the branches while queuing to get at the feeders. They squabble a lot, too, especially the starlings and sparrows!


    They like the fat balls here, a feeder full of seed just rots into a lump

    I’ve put the feeders in a tree above the hedge; fewer seeds drop into the borders and the smaller birds can dive into the hedge in an emergency. I can’t put anything on the ground for the ‘hogs, the squirrels get there first

    Premier Icon Mary Hinge

    Absolutely everything!

    We get through a 20kg sack of nuts, 15kg of no mess seed, a bucket of fatballs and a couple of kilos of nyjer.  So over £60 a month. The little burgers eat better than me.

    last house however, nuts just went mouldy as they were untouched,

    So it does seem to vary so you’ll need to try different stuff.

    Try planting wildlife friendly plants, trees, hedges etc.

    loads of berries in our garden at the minute

    r emember if making nest boxes different birds require different entrance sizes and robins like theirs fairly open fronted


    Just been out and filled the suet pellet feeder, which was empty, as usual. The sunflower hearts aren’t being touched much at the mo’, though, and the bird table hasn’t been raided either. The hedgehog restaurant needed hosing out, and the heavy rain had splashed enough to make their saucers a soggy mess. Little tykes aren’t too discriminating when it comes to leaving poo, either, it’s not surprising to find poo in their food saucers… 😝💩


    Just got around to watching the squirrel video. O.M.G! 🤣

    Premier Icon Northwind

    Mealworms, sunflower hearts, and B&M Bargains cheap fatballs and suet pellets. Our blackbirds do a public service and knock loads of everything onto the floor for the lardy pigeons and our one hedgehog.

    Oh, and a state of open warfare with the local cats, who’re totally welcome up in the human bit but get supersoakered if they’re in the bird bit

    Aldi provides everything. Just this weekend I bought the Aldi bird feeder and all the bird feed to go with it, so the big bag of seed, the lard balls, the nuts, the only thing I didn’t get was the suet stuff. Apparently the Aldi stuff is very good and cheaper than other outlets too.

    Not seen any birds yet, but I suppose it’s been windy.

    Just something to consider if you go down the suet balls/fat balls route – they’re like crack for birds and mine totally ignore any other feeders if they are on offer..but they result in a fair amount of wastage falling on the floor which becomes a plentiful food source for mice and the such-like, especially when the chicks are getting used to eating from them and lobbing the stuff everywhere (cute to watch as it is). The mice will set up camp under your shed and nip out to snack on the remnants. And breed. And come into your house in winter.

    I’ve only got peanuts & niger seeds in feeders at the moment now it’s approaching the colder days  – the birds have given in and are now putting the effort in for their meals. 🙂

    Get through a 12 kg back of mixed seeds every two-three weeks.  Mainly sparrows as I’ve modified the feeder arms so that only they can perch on them easily (pidgeons try to use them but end up falling off).  I hate pidgeons, lazy fat bullies.

    Occasional jackdaws and thankfully the horde of magpies has disappeared.  Though watching the ferrets in their run facing off against the magpies on the other side of the mesh was hilarious, proper Mexican standoff, who was going to blink first.

    Starlings demolish the fat balls in a noisy crowd of squawking and bickering.

    oh and we get visited by the sparrow hawks which are easily spotted by their nape of the lawn, hedge hopping attack profiles (personally I think it’s just showing off).

    Premier Icon dissonance

    oh and we get visited by the sparrow hawks

    Takes time but holly trees have the rather handy dual feature of providing some natural food during winter and also with some careful trimming a nice protective area for the feeders.

    Squirrels are the problem round here

    For a while chilli powder was recommended since birds dont have the receptors so dont notice it but squirrels do. However there are stories about squirrels acquiring a taste for hot food and turning up more often.

    For the OP. I would go for a mix of sunflower seeds/hearts, peanuts and fat balls/suet pellets.Niger seeds if you have room but would be secondary.

    Premier Icon stevied

    Thanks for all the advice 🙂

    Went to Aldi and got their feedstation, fatballs, mixed seed & peanuts. Got it all set up in a nice, visible spot (so the girls and I can watch them) but close-enough to the trees for them to have some cover.

    Had a slightly disappointing 1st day due to the wind and rain but had the 1st visitor yesterday morning (a robin) then that was followed by a greater spotted woodpecker 🙂

    Have bought the girls a book (have some National Trust binoculars too) so they can start to get to know what birds are what and tick them off if they see them in the garden…they’re well excited (and so am I)..


    I generally use a combination of mixed seed, peanuts and fat balls / coconut shell filled with suet and seed.

    The main problem I have is starlings bullying every other bird off the feeders, anyone found a feeder that the starlings can’t get at?

    That style that Mr Flaps posted a picture of above, or the Wilko derivatives which include fatball feeders.

    Starlings don’t have a chance.

    So you’re then just left with the cute little sparrows pecking the crap out of each other 🙂

    Premier Icon annebr

    after this I got some squirrel proof feeders.

    That’s my new favourite squirrel-based picture from here.

    Narrowly beating this classic.

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