I didn’t know that there was more than one genre of wild bird feeder, but it seems there are four basic feed offerings of special interest to the smaller wild birds: seed; nuts; fat; suet. Quite what the difference is between fat balls and suet cake, I’m not sure.
We’ll find out soon enough, since we’ve purchased both feeders to supplement our seed and peanut feeders that are already dangling on hooks attached to the strategically-placed power-line pole.
Apparently the bustling little Chaffinch likes seeds, while the shy Great Tit is more fond of peanuts. When we affix the hangers for the suet cake and fat ball feeders, we’ll see which birds like either of these delicacies the best.
We started out scattering the bird seed on a cement ramp placed years ago up to one of the sheds. That worked a treat for extreme close-up photographs with a remote focus/trigger but it didn’t half stimulate the emerging rat family. Fortunately we found that the rats like the blue seeds even more than the normal kind, but we still thought we’d up the ante in favour of the birds.
Scattering the seed on the ancient picnic table was fine for a while, until the jackdaws, starlings and then Earnest the neighbour’s pea cock, the visiting pheasant family and even Gordon our guinea fowl decided that was pretty convenient. So we finally moved to high hanging feeders that Earnest should find pretty challenging. The little birds have soon found the feeders, and my telephoto lens has found them.
But it feels almost like a funny thing, feeding the wild birds, in that they may come to depend on the handouts. And what happens to them if we’re not here? Would you call that de-wilding? Maybe the little bird community is merely developing on from the theme of extensive hedgerow habitat that we too conspired to plant? Maybe they’re just taking advantage of a free hand-out, and would survive well enough anyway. Whether or not, the feeling remains that the chaffinch family, in particular, are somehow our responsibility, as several of them have grown up in our garden.
So, since the elderberries are finally stripped bare, the little birds must be getting hungry and hungrier, and we’re faithfully filling the feeders. Suet and fat ball cages should conveniently supply a source of super energy against the winter chill; they’re definitely next on the menu!