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Feeding and attracting wild birds - what am I doing wrong

 
S. Bard
pollinator
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Location: Italian Alps, Zone 8
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I’m not exactly sure where to post this, so feel free to move this to another forum if that’s more appropriate

I love birds. Nothing makes me more relaxed than waking up with birdsongs in the morning.
To my great pleasure I noticed some white wagtails, swallows and some goldcrests in my garden this winter. Especially the goldcrests are somewhat more of a rare sight in my garden as they tend to only nest in higher altitudes with lots of pines. My garden and the forest around it does not feature a single pine. So I’m guessing they came down to my garden in search of food to get through winter.

Seeing as birds also can help to keep our insects in check I was hoping to attract many more birds to my garden, and hopefully also keep the company of those adorable goldcrests.
So some weeks ago, super motivated , with scenes of snow-white singing to birds in the back of my head, I purchased some nice quality wild bird feed (local seed mix for the seed-eating birds) and some dried mealworms for the insect-eaters. Taking care to create natural feeder locations that are also easy to clean (to avoid spreading diseases among my precious birdies), I set up two spots in my garden to feed them. I placed a roofing tile inside one of our knotted willows (so they have some coverage) where I put the mealworms, and put another flat terracotta tile on top of a 2m high stacked stone wall and sprinkled the seeds on top.
While working in another part of the garden that day I kept glancing at the feedspots, hoping to make some new winged friends, but none of them came near. Lots of them were sitting in the brambles looking at me curiously though. I wondered if my presence was distracting  them from the feed so I just left the feed out, expecting them to eat it when I’m gone.

I came back a week later, fully expecting to see the seeds and worms devoured, and the birdies welcoming me back for a second course. Disappointingly however the food was still right there, exactly where I left it. No biggie I thought, let’s try again. I threw the old seeds in the grass (maybe some sunflowers will sprout!), repositioned the plate to a more visible spot, added new feed and waited again. Still not a nibble! I once more decided to leave the feed while I’m gone, begrudgingly hoping to at least feed some hungry squirrel while I’m gone, but when I got back a week later again the food wasn’t touched. It didn’t even move an inch. There was however a fresh spot of birdpoop smack in the middle of my feeding plate.

I feel like they are mocking me in my feeble attempts to do some good in the coldest of months.
What is going on? Are they not finding the feed? Are they simply not hungry? Do they not like the seeds/ mealworms? Are they scared of the terracotta plates? I can’t just throw the feed in the grass, they would never find it (but I would have lots of sunflowers next year).

Please help me understand how I can make friend with these birds. I already have lots of natural spots in the garden where they can drink and wash up. I also have lots of spots with hazelnuts and brambles where they can find cover. I hope to install some bird houses soon. But I haven’t the faintest idea what to do with these two bags of feed I bought that these birds don’t seem to want to touch!
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[Thumbnail for 6245DB43-43E8-44D8-8E47-77709F22F7D4.jpeg]
Look at these adorable fuzz-balls!
 
B Redhawk
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hau, it could be they just aren't sure about the foods.  It could also be that suet blocks would work better. Our birds took about three weeks to trust our feeders, now they let us know when the feeders are empty.  Do you have daytime predators? Those could also be a factor when first starting bird feeding.

Redhawk
 
S. Bard
pollinator
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Location: Italian Alps, Zone 8
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Hi Redhawk,

Maybe I’m just impatient! Did you leave your feeders in the same spot?

I do notice a big hawk-like bird (he’s always very high up and I’m not very good at recognising birds yet) soaring over the forest. I usually see him once a day (but I’m only there once a week). He’s usually far away though, and I put the feed in a tree where the birds could eat while having cover. Is the predator birds scaring them away none the less?

 
B Redhawk
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The biggest preventor seems to be the location of the feeder. Ours are on poles or hung near or in a tree, once we placed them in those spots, the birds haven't stopped unless Wolf does not keep them filled for more than a week.

Redhawk
 
S. Bard
pollinator
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Location: Italian Alps, Zone 8
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How high are your poles? One of my feeders is already in a (small) tree. It was the highest I could place it without having to haul a ladder out in the garden.
 
Sarah Koster
pollinator
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Location: SW Ohio
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Am I understanding correctly that you just have the food placed on tiles/slabs? I'm thinking maybe the birds have nowhere to land/perch that feels secure to them. Sometimes birds are kinda weird about the types of objects they will land on, and like woodpeckers can only grasp vertically so they can't really land on a flat surface. Also I think it's right about them not wanting to be out in the open with no cover while raptors soar overhead.
 
B Redhawk
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Ours are around 5feet off the ground.  They are in the orchard behind the house.

 
S. Bard
pollinator
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Do you have a picture of the feeders? Maybe Incan try and replicate their shape. Perhaps you are right about the slabs that they cannot/ won’t perch on it.
 
Zephr Robin
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I love this little birds as well. If reincarnation was a recycling of spirits and not just a recycling of energy I'd love to become a little bird. In my garden I've had success. I went to my native nursery and brought home an Atriplex lentiformis, or quail bush. I don't put out seed except in my traps for predators (house cats are not welcome). Instead of a bowl, plant a native bush, something lovely that provides shelter, food, and nesting to your little bird friend. Lay out mulch to attract bugs so that the birds can forage naturally for their absolute favorite foods. It worked for me.
 
S. Bard
pollinator
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Zephr Robin wrote:I love this little birds as well. If reincarnation was a recycling of spirits and not just a recycling of energy I'd love to become a little bird. In my garden I've had success. I went to my native nursery and brought home an Atriplex lentiformis, or quail bush. I don't put out seed except in my traps for predators (house cats are not welcome). Instead of a bowl, plant a native bush, something lovely that provides shelter, food, and nesting to your little bird friend. Lay out mulch to attract bugs so that the birds can forage naturally for their absolute favorite foods. It worked for me.



I can totally relate to your idea. Birds are such amazing creatures. When I’m on our balcony with the little barn swallows zipping by our heads, I’m just so mesmerised. I’d love to be able to be up there with them!

I hadn’t heard of quail bush. Will see if I can get my hands on one. I do intend to plan lots of other berry bushes and trees on the property. I’ve already got elderberries, autumn olive, seaberry and lots of blackberries. But I’m planning on adding lots of varieties of currants, Rosehip and mulberry. I’m also going to try to make a deal with our local sawmill to get a steady supply of wood chips and sawdust, which would be an invaluable addition to my soils. Let’s hope once I’ve got the rest of my garden established, the birds will follow.
 
Anne Miller
master steward
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Location: USDA Zone 8a
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Do you have a place for them to get water?  That is what usually attracts our birds and the fact that we have nest boxes for them.

Also I agree that planting thing that will attract them is a great idea!  Research what your bird species likes best and what will grow where you live.

From observing our wildlife for several years, I have notice that they like what is natural to them. An example is that we furnish water for our birds though when it rains they prefer to get their water from the creek that only has water when it rains.  When that dries up they will be back to get our water.

Wishing you the best.
 
S. Bard
pollinator
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Anne Miller wrote:Do you have a place for them to get water?  That is what usually attracts our birds and the fact that we have nest boxes for them.

Also I agree that planting thing that will attract them is a great idea!  Research what your bird species likes best and what will grow where you live.

From observing our wildlife for several years, I have notice that they like what is natural to them. An example is that we furnish water for our birds though when it rains they prefer to get their water from the creek that only has water when it rains.  When that dries up they will be back to get our water.

Wishing you the best.



We actually have permanent creek running straight through our garden. We also have several springs where the water seeps from the rocks, so there’s plenty of water for the birds. Lots of brambles to hide in and trees to perch and nest in as well, so I’d think this location is pretty nice for the birds. They just don’t want to touch the seed and dried insects I’m putting out for them.
 
Anne Miller
master steward
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Location: USDA Zone 8a
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Try putting the goodies where you see them perch. Then the next day put some more closer to you and slowly move them closer.

I would suggest starting with the bird seed first since they are new things to them.  Maybe just sow some on the ground to get them started.
 
Jane Higginson
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Hi, It is known that plants native to your specific micro bioregion will attract many times more native bird species than non-native plants. Your micro bioregion can be identified by visiting local nature reserved nearest to your neighborhood. Hopefully vthey will have lots of interpretive info on the native plants. They won't use permie terms such as bioregion, though. They will call them vegetative communities or local ecosystems. If there is a naturalist there they can really help you out. So if someone is advising you to plant a specific species of shrub or tree, etc., make sure it's native to your specific site before buying it. Other Good resources for information are National Audubon Society, National Wildlife Federation, and local native plant societies specific to your area.

I have lots of native wildlife biodiversity at my place without putting out any bird feeders, by minding the local native plants and by trying to keep the invasive plants in check as much as possible. Watching the birds in the morning is one of the greatest joys of life! By the way, my lovely permie homestead/nature reserved is for sale in San Diego, Southern California. Se my post Homestead in SoCal for sale. I would love to sell to a permie who will take good care of it.
Janie
 
May Lotito
pollinator
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Location: Missouri. USA. Zone 6b
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I am wondering if your bird feeding is going along well now. It sounds like a bird paradise to have permanent creek in your yard!

I tried different types of bird seeds before and it seemed like birds in my place were all crazy about  black oil seed sunflower, but not suet, millets or other grains. I put out some dried black soldier fly larvae out, hoping to attract some bluebirds but failed. Also rarely any flycatcher got attracted by my compost pile. Wish I could get the scissor-tailed flycatcher summering down the road to come!

Talking about natural bird feeders, here are some of mine.



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Red-bellied woodpecker
Red-bellied woodpecker
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Rose-breasted grossbeak
Rose-breasted grossbeak
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Goldfinch
Goldfinch
 
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