Putting a bird feeder in your garden is a very kind thing to do. It is getting harder and harder for birds to find food in urban areas – not only in winter, but all year round – and so bird feeders can often save their lives. They are also great for birdwatching, if that’s what you’re into, especially if you leave the bird feeder in the same place for a long time so that the birds start to remember where it is.
But what kind of bird feeder should you get? The simplest bird feeders are just tables for you to put food on, but the food you put on these is easily stolen by squirrels, who will keep coming back for more and burying it all over your garden. You should consider a cage feeder, where the food is inside a cage so that birds need to use their beaks to get it, or perhaps a feeder with a specially-designed perch that will collapse under the weight of a squirrel. However, both of these options can be impractical if you want to feed larger birds, so you need to consider whether it’s really worth it or if you might as well just put out more food.
The other thing you should think about is what you’re going to put in your bird feeder. Obviously this depends mainly on what kind of birds you expect to attract. Most birds will prefer seeds such as millet, but meat-eating birds will prefer ‘bird cake’ and a few birds like hummingbirds want a mixture of sugar and water (a kind of substitute nectar). Some birds also like to eat fruit, so you might try leaving pieces of apple or orange in the mixture as well. If you’re not sure which birds will come, then the best thing to do is to have a little of everything at first, and then see what is popular.
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