We love the birds in our garden here in Lincolnshire and we do everything we can to encourage and protect them but we have a problem – they sometimes don’t get on very well with each other.
Two years ago I was happily watching a charm of goldfinches tucking away on our niger feeder when along came a jackdaw that the goldfinches took little notice of. All was well for a time but then the jackdaw suddenly pounced on one of the goldfinches and, before I could rush to the rescue of the gorgeous little bird, it was carried away and no doubt eaten.
I know that many people say “that’s the way of the natural world” but I really don’t want ambushes and open warfare in our garden, thank you very much!
Then there are magpies and jays that frequent gardens in ever-increasing numbers and it is well documented that they will also take small birds, particularly young ones that are not yet worldly-wise. The trouble is, I rather like these large birds but the thought of enticing small birds onto the bird table only to be eaten by their larger cousins makes me shudder.
So, how can we protect small garden birds from large ones when feeding? I think we have found the answer…
We bought a puppy cage that we stood on a metal frame. In the cage we hang-up our “small bird feeders”. All the finches, sparrows, dunnocks, robins, blue tits and great tits happily flit through the bars of the cage to get to the feeders but anything the size of a starling or larger has to look on enviously because it simply cannot find a way to the food.
Why a puppy cage and not a parrot cage? Simply because a puppy cage is a quarter the price!
We then feed the larger birds a few metres away and everyone is happy – no more cannibalism. Another advantage is that the always-greedy larger birds devour whatever we put out in double-quick time but the smaller birds can spend their entire day leisurely feeding.
I’m a long-standing member of the RSPB but I recently came across another organization that you might like to check-out – it’s called Birdwatch and you’ll find that their website has some really interesting articles and tips.
Can you recognize the 10 most common garden birds in the UK? Why not test yourself in our Garden Birds quiz?