Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Hearts and Flowers

I have been experimenting with bird food recently. By far the most popular food I put out has been sunflower hearts but my what a mess they make with it! Some of the debris falls onto the garden and some onto the grass, and although I sweep it up or hoe it in it is impossible to clear completely. This is not so bad when the weather is dry but when it is wet or damp it causes a black fur like mould to grow which I fear may be harmful to any ground feeding birds.

I know it is advisable to move the feeders around regularly but unless one is fortunate to have an extremely large garden this is not always practical and also birds are very much creatures of habit and like to use familiar feeding areas.

One way I tried to alleviate this problem was by fixing catcher trays (actually large plastic plant pot saucers) to poles under the feeders which did help a lot but inevitably some was still falling to the ground.

I then had the idea of using kibbled sunflower hearts instead of whole ones as it seemed most of the problem was caused by the birds finding the hearts too big to eat whole. So far there has been far less waste and the feeders are not needing to be refilled every day.

I was a little worried at first that they might not be as keen on the kibbled form of sunflower hearts but so far I have seen no decline in the number of birds at the feeders.

The (not very good) photo below of a juvenile Goldfinch was taken by me in the garden last summer and the photo of the Sunflower above was taken by my husband in the garden in 2006.

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