Feeding garden birds …and skirmishes with freeloading pigeons and squirrels

A 12-kilo sack of birds seed from the RSPB costs about £20 when on offer, which is the cheapest I’ve found it anywhere for the type of seed that’s meant to attract chaffinches and goldfinches (inc. sunflower seeds, millet and canary seed).

However that’s still expensive when it seems that something is managing to empty the bird feeder in one day, which is what kept happening. This was my naive first attempt with the bird feeders – just hanging it from a tree.

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I soon discovered it was squirrels. Luckily they didn’t destroy the feeder, according to some comments on the RSPB website reviews.

So we bought a pole to put the feeder on, the idea being that the squirrels wouldn’t be able to shimmy up the pole. But they did. So we bought a pole extension and made the squirrels perform Olympic feats to get their bird seed. Which they did.

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We even greased the top of the pole with bicycle grease. This little trick didn’t stop them either.

So we deployed the “cone” after consulting the reviews on all the “feeder defence” products at the RSPB website.

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This finally stopped the squirrels. Admittedly, at first we had positioned the pole too close to the wall and the tree, and the squirrels could still leap across and land on the feeder. Once we’d moved the pole out of range, it was fine. As long as they didn’t evolve wing-suits like their North American cousins, the gliding squirrels.

So all was fine and dandy in the garden for a while, although the feeder cone looked a tad ugly and the whole thing got covered pretty fast in blue tit guano.

Our garden got a reputation among the bird life and we were visited daily by a charm of goldfinches (that is the correct collective noun for goldfinches!).

However, the peace was not to last. The pigeons learnt to land on the bird feeder and feed on it, despite huge amounts of flapping and scratching. This way they could empty the feeder in one day. So I purchased an ‘arm’ to hang the bird feeder from. If the bird feeder is not firm and stable, the pigeons can’t land on it. Instead, they managed to knock the whole thing off.

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I came home one day to find the feeder on the ground, with a pigeon, a squirrel and a rat feasting on the contents.

So back to the RSPB website. Following advice in reviews of various feeders, I think I now have the ultimate solution. The Fort Knox bird feeder.

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It’s not exactly pretty, but then, hey, this is London.

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