I'm fairly new to this bird feeding lark, only having started this winter gone. I just wanted to help the sole robin that visited our barren garden and now I've got quite a variety of birds visiting. The more food I put out, the more birds I get, so I've been really chuffed that my efforts are being appreciated.
I've got sunflower & nijer seeds, peanuts, mealworms and fat balls - all in appropriate feeders.
My dilemma is the the fat balls and the fat filled coconut half - both of which have added bits and purchased from RSPB, which go down at a rapid rate at the moment. My husband thinks the birds are getting fat and I should stop feeding them the fat as that's only necessary during the winter months and I'll be doing more harm than good. Obviously harm is the last thing I want to do, but there isn't a bird in the garden that doesn't like to visit them, particularly the coconut shell. It seems a particular favourite of the woodpeckers and I'd hate to lose them. But if it were the right thing to do, then of course I'd take them down.
I have 4 fat balls in a hanging feeder on a feeding station - they last about a week. I have 5 fat balls in a hanging feeder, hanging from a tree branch - they last a couple of days and are being eaten by a squirrel mostly I think. I also have a coconut half hanging from a tree branch and that's lasting about a day and half - that's the favourite of the woodpecker.
Now the only bird I think is fat is a Magpie - and it eats everything, including cat sick!
I take the point on board about not putting them out so much in the summer as they may go rancid - but the weather's been quite awful up to now.
I've got tits of all sorts, jays, woodpeckers, robins, magpies and others popping in and out all day and eating the fat.
I'd like some advice from others as to what might be the right thing to do.
Many thanks in advance.
Hi Stumpydav welcome to the forums from Sheffield.
The RSPB among other firms now sell fatballs that can be used all year round (using suet) so i should think you are ok to continue feeding the birds with them..i make my own fatcakes using Lard and stop putting them out due to lard being softer than the suet.
At this time of year and now the weather's been so bad i think you're helping the parents keep their strength up..
If you have any photos of your visitors we would love to see them.
My photos are on Flickr and Website
Hi Stumpydav and welcome from me in Lancashire.
Birds know best what type of food they need, and when. At the moment my birds are going mad for suet products including fat balls, and are leaving the seed to the jackdaws and pigeons. They are also going mad for mealworms, both for themselves and for their chicks because they know they need the protein. They need the extra fat and protein to keep themselves warm and healthy through the very exhausting days of looking after eggs and chicks.
Your birds won't be fat, they will just be fluffed up to keep warm and dry or to make themselves attractive to their mates. You will notice that once the breeding season is over and summer is really here, they will abandon the fat balls in favour of other food. Nature really does know best.
See my photos on Flickr
Hello and welcome from me in Scotland.
Birds don't get fat ( although I have my doubts about starlings overeating!) so you can reassure your husband. I have fat balls out and they have become very popular over the last three weeks. It's been colder than usual in May and very wet. When it's raining, it's very hard for the birds to find the insects they would catch for their nesting partners and the chicks.
I have a very small back garden and my neighbour puts out washing every fine day so I have to cut back a bit when it's dry. It's getting difficult because jackdaws have started visiting. I put the fat balls in a guardian feeder because the jackdaws were so attracted to them but they've discovered a branch they can perch on to peck them! Time to move it to another tree.
Just keep feeding and enjoy the chicks when they come visiting. My first baby house sparrow turned up today!
Wildbirds dont get fat unlike us they are constantly on the move so burn it off.
Yesterday we had a Jackdaw come down and pick up a whole Jacobi Jayne fatball and they arnt your small ones either :-)
A very old Shropshire Lad.
Hi StumpyDav- welcome from Cornwall. I've been feeding garden birds for a few years. At the moment I'm spending a small fortune on suet pellets, fat balls( birds eating at least 3 suet logs and 3 fatballs per day) and mealworms - all the birds are going for these first and taking very little seed. You're providing a good variety of quality products , so don't worry about doing any harm.I provide pretty much same as you with the addition of suet pellets, raisins (for the blackbirds) and some mild grated cheese (which the robins love). Hope that's reassured you a bit!!
Enjoy the forum- Jayne
Wow - thank you all for your welcome, responses and reassurance. I feel much better about what I'm doing now and much better informed too. Also feel glad that the fortune I spent the other day on a ton of fat balls and coconut shells on the RSPB site isn't going to go to waste! I, and the birds, can't wait for them to arrive! They all ran out today and the tits are going to the feeding station where they'd normally be and keep looking around, somewhat forlornly I think, wondering where they've got to! Poor things.
I do dried & fresh fruit occasionally but I hadn't thought of cheese at all, so thanks for that, and the other tips. I'd particularly like to keep the robin happy as it was s/he that started me off in the first place.
Thank you all so much.
I have found that during the summer my birds tend to go off suet balls and blocks so I switch to suet pellets instead,don't know why but thats what they want so that's what they get!
If cats could talk they would lie to you!
Hi StumpyDav, a warm welcome to here from me in Staffordshire :-)
There's a Jay that feeds off the fat balls on my tree, it comes everyday,It hangs on to the holder like any other bird, it's hard to see it because of where I sit, but I can see it's wings a flapping about a lot and then it flys off real quick after a lot of aerobics. I was watching it about an hour ago :-)
The truth is I'm mad. We are all mad and many are too mad to know the truth.