I have a balcony where I live, and it pleases me to put some bird feed out there to support the local wildlife. Over time, I have worked out what works best, not just at attracting birds, but at also being manageable for us humans to clean up the mess.
The fatty suet based foods seem to be the best, but I have learnt that the sorts of suet balls etc that you hang up can be a problem as they encourage the birds to hang around all day. Wouldn’t be a problem, except that over the past few years, I seem to have “bred” a large flock of Starlings, and to be blunt about it – they shit everywhere.
Fortunately, earlier this year, I found a remarkable product – a bag of berry suet pellets – that I can scatter on the balcony floor. The amazing thing is the effect it has on pigeons.
Starlings may shit everywhere, but it is easy to clean up and they are incredibly good fun to watch feeding. Wagtails have a pleasant chatter, and blue-tits/robins are always welcome.
Pigeons though – they are the Dyson vacuum cleaner of the bird world – as they just hoover up anything I put outside in one silent movement. Very irritating, until I started using the suet pellets. Weirdly, the pigeons not only wont eat them, but they behave as if the product doesn’t even exist. It is quite bizarre behaviour, and even the manufacturer seems a bit confused about it when I asked them if this was a deliberate design, or a fluke.
Anyhow, my local Robert Dyas store is where I usually get the pellets from, although they often sell out. You’d have thought that regularly selling out of a product, and often having a guy asking when they would be back in stock might have suggested increasing stocks, but no.
Yesterday, asking yet again about fresh supplies, I was informed that bird food is a seasonal product. Well, yes, this is the season for feeding birds. No, bird feed is only sold in Spring and Summer. Double checking this slightly odd statement, it was confirmed that they do not consider bird feed to be something they should sell in winter months.
In an ideal world, the RSPB would like us to feed the birds all year round – but also accept that for most people, winter is when they think about avian issues. So it does seem quite strange for a local hardware store to think Winter is the wrong time to sell bird feed.
I guess it’s time to find a mail order supplier.
Incidentally, I tend to feed birds during the winter to spring, then wind down a bit as a) I want my balcony back for summer and b) I think it is better for fledgling birds to learn to forage normally and not rely overly on humans.
Anyhow, despite the opinion of the local hardware store, this coming Saturday is the RSPB’s Feed the Birds Day where we are reminded to put out food for the fluffy ones.
Just don’t try buying any bird food from Robert Dyas!