Bird Feeders – Ray Colliers Wildlife in the North

tits feeding from illed coconutOne of the more innovative presents I had for Christmas was a selection of food and feeders for birds in the garden. The basic part of the present was two halves of coconut filled with mainly suet but with added ingredients. The addition to the suet of dried mealworms was obvious but not, at first glance, the types of seed. However there were clues as together with the filled coconut halves there were packets of nyger seed, sunflower hearts and more dried mealworms. These days there are so many types of feeders and such a diversity of types of feed it can be bewildering as to which to choose. Whilst I have tried many of them it has been very many years since I put out coconut halves and I wondered what the existing birds in the garden would think of them. It would be interesting to see which, if any, birds took to them and how long before the birds found and tackled the suet filled coconuts.

There were plenty of birds at the other feeders including blue tits, great tits, coal tits, chaffinches, blackbirds, occasional goldfinches and greenfinches etc. So I was hopeful but even I was surprised at the results. Within a few minutes of the coconut being hung up it was being investigated by a blue tit and before long it was tucking in, balanced on the edge of the shell. The blue tit seemed to be a sign for the other birds as before long there were a few birds interested in the coconut but then came the surprise. A party of long-tailed tits, around ten, came into the various feeders and one landed on the coconut and started eating. By the time I had fetched the camera the flock, of course, had gone but I waited for other birds to come in. After a while I was lucky enough to get the attached photograph of a blue tit, great tit and coal tit all feeding on the coconut at the same time. So the coconut feeder was a success and the next day I bought some more suet and they will become part of the feeding station in the future. The only worry is that when the starlings came in at dusk, about eight, to roost in the doocot as normal one veered off and was last seen tucking into the coconut. The coconuts may need filling up more than I had anticipated.

The other item in the Christmas present was a small bag of peanuts but, for a change, they were in their shells. This took me back to very many years ago when the present wide range of feeders and food was just not available to buy anywhere. It was more a question of putting out scraps off the table but one innovation in those days was hanging whole peanuts up, in their shells. The shells were threaded onto thick cotton and then just hung up. It was all so successful until I moved to a remote house near Lochinver. Nobody had ever put out food for birds in that garden but up went the peanuts. It took several days before a new bird, a great tit, appeared that had tackled such peanuts before and after a couple of days all the titmice were simply tucking in. They were just copying that first great tit that knew what to do. As for peanuts up in my existing garden they are, after several days, still hang in there untouched!