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Buckinghamshire, United Kingdom Gb

I keep my bird feeders clean and replenish the food when necessary but the birds clearly don't like my food. I did have a pole feeder on the lawn but when I saw a sparrowhawk swoop and proceed to pluck his dinner right in front of me I decided the birds were too much at risk. The feeders were moved to hang under the pergola so perhaps birds like more visibility Sadly, I don't have anywhere else to hang them where they will be safe: my shrubs and trees are still too immature. I did try hanging a fat ball feeder against the fence but even the starlings didn't use it so I had to throw them away. There are plenty of birds flying across the garden, I even have a blackbird nesting in the Cl Montana against the fence but that is the sum total.
Has anyone got any advice?




Sad as it is, it is nature and it will not happen every day continue to feed in the open if there is enough room for the small birds to see the hawks approach. I don't know if the pergola is close to the house and maybe that is why they don't feed there

13 May, 2020


'Our' birds have take 3 years to get comfortable with using feeders. We now have all the usual suspects coming on a regular basis. We had very few during the first year of feeding.
We find they nearly all love sunflower hearts and the leftovers get hoovered up by sparrows, robins and woodies when they drop to the ground.
We too have a sparrowhawk who visits. I try to remind myself that they have chicks to feed too, and it's not as upsetting as watching the neighbourhood cats kill for sport. Like you I move the feeders on a regular basis to try and make it less easy for the hawk and put them close to cover.

13 May, 2020


I've been feeding the birds for years and I have different visitors, including corvids. Today I saw a magpie try to take a fledgling starling, but it failed as starling mum came to the rescue. I also have a sparrowhawk that has taken a bird from my garden - they need to eat too. However, when spotted, small birds call out the alarm and clear off to safety. Interestingly, I have two bird baths, one 50cm off the ground on a stand and one on the ground under a dwarf tree. When I've used my camera trap I've found that the ground bath was more popular with all the smaller bird species. Maybe you could think of placing some feeders in sheltered areas? My neighbour also has a feeder but she never gets the birds feeding from it (probably has to do with the fact that she shoos the birds away when she's out in her garden).

13 May, 2020


I get the occasional sparrow hawk as well. They will only take what they can eat and they must eat at least one per day. The babes must eat too. It seems cruel, but the kill is instantaneous. It's nature's way of keeping things in balance. It does benefit the rest of the flock when 1 is picked off now and then. At times my garden is overwhelmed with birds birds birds everywhere. I hope I don't sound callous. I find the hawks to be beautiful and graceful birds of prey.

My birds aren't too picky about their food. I usually go with the basic variety seed mix - it has something for everybody.

13 May, 2020


the birds feel more secure when they have a clear flight path to your feeders. Perhaps the pergola is in the wrong place for them. The sparrowhawk wont feed in your garden every day so put the feeders back in the open and enjoy the birds visiting.

Our sparrow hawk takes small birds about once a fortnight. The only alternative to preventing a sparrow hawk hunting in your garden is not to feed the other birds.

that would be such a shame.

13 May, 2020


Thank you all for your comments but it’s been six years since we moved here so that’s a long time to wait, Anget. Unfortunately I don’t have anywhere else to hang feeders, I have added a picture of my garden to my original question. The pergola is a three cornered one with a bushy ceanothus covering half of it. I have, though, been wondering if I should hang the feeders on the front edge rather than underneath. I am reluctant to put out feed that the greedy starlings demolish in half an hour, leaving nothing for the other birds.

Currently I am scattering a few soaked currants with some meal worms in amongst plants, mainly for the nesting blackbirds and the smaller birds. I was sprinkling them on the patio and loved to see Mr Blackbird waiting for them but I’ve had to stop. A large flock of starlings descended and cleared them all in minutes.

14 May, 2020


Sadly we can't have what we want in the bird line and not the others! All or nothing. We get through one seed feeder of food a day, lots of little birds, Goldfinches, Blue & Great Tits, Chaffinches, Greenfinches as well as Sparrows. But we also get Starlings, Jackdaws, Collared Doves and even a very fat (I wonder why) pigeon that has managed to work out how to hang on the bird feeder. The Crow sits on a branch above and dive-bombs the feeder which sets it on a swing and spills seed onto the ground, which it then eats. Clever things these birds. We get the Sparrowhawk who usually just take pigeons or doves which keeps the flocks down. Also get the squirrel feeding on the the seed.
Ours hang under the branches of the large Greengage tree which gives lots of cover and I would have thought that the front of your pergola would be ideal.

14 May, 2020


The good news is that feeding the starlings is excellent as their numbers are in decline in the UK . The RSPB are encouraging people to feed them as they are on the Red List which means 'highest concern'. According to daughter the population has fallen by 66% since the 70's [They are an invasive species in the US however]

So you are doing your bit for their conservation. They also pull leatherjackets [cranefly larva] out of the sward/grass.

14 May, 2020


Perhaps when your bushes get bigger they will make an escape route for the small birds. The Ceanothus is still perhaps too small still tol hide in? Our feeder is very near a large conifer (part of what was once a Leylandii hedge that was never clipped) and at the slightest alarm the birds retreat into it out of reach of anything bigger.

14 May, 2020


I don't mind the starlings. They aren't the prettiest birds but they pull most of the grubs out of the lawn and I appreciate it.

14 May, 2020


Seaburn, starlings are definitely NOT in decline around here. We have large flocks of them and most people don't want them as they empty bird feeders in an hour, leaving the smaller birds to go elsewhere. I know they're clever birds, and can be amusing but I've had enough of their ways now and wish they'd move further north. Or south, east or west. I don't care.

16 May, 2020


well today the sparrowhawk took a hedge sparrow and then later on in the day she came back for a juvenile starling. So I am feeding the birds to feed the birds.

18 May, 2020


Eileen - that sounds like the 'butterfly effect'. A butterfly fluttering its wings in San Francisco can trigger a hurricane in Barbados through progressive atmospheric disturbances that gradually intensify.

Also, sparrowhawks aren't the only ones to snatch. They're pretty much at the bottom of the food chain.

19 May, 2020


biologically speaking sparrow hawks are a top predator Paul so at the top end of the food chain. Plants are the starting point with the plant eating animals [caterpillars slugs etc] at the bottom end.

You are right there are other birds that snatch smaller birds. We get other birds snatching at fledglings and over the years the magpie rook and crow to name 3 we have seen in the garden doing that. Last year the great spotted woodpecker ransacked a bluetits nest. They have their own young to feed so whilst I get to recognise individuals and become fond of them I try not to get sentimental. Its all natural cycles.

19 May, 2020


Blue Jays in particular are very vicious towards other birds and are given a wide berth.

I meant the sparrows are near the bottom of the food chain. The Sparrowhawks will also take rats, mice, squirrels - whatever it can grab.

19 May, 2020

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