My picky birds

As mentioned in previous article, I was excited to start putting a bird feeder outside my window and DIY my own bird feeder, which is up to version 4 right now. Other than design of the bird feeder, bird food is a very important factor to attract birds. There are mainly four types of bird food: seeds, suet, peanuts and mealworms. Each type of bird food require the corresponding feeder. As a beginner, I start with seeds. However, there are many different types of seeds to choose from and I finally picked a bag called “Mixed Seed” as its slogan is “No messing with bird food”. I believed it will suit a variety of birds.

DIY Bird Feeder – Version 1

After a week, two species of birds visited my feeder frequently, the Blue tit and the Great tit. However, I observed their naughty behaviour. They started to select their favourite seeds from the mixed seed.

At first, only one or two birds had this bad habit and I thought, “Oh! What a smart bird! Interesting!” However, more and more birds are picking the seeds and messed the ground. It made me want to spank them.

Seeds on the ground

To solve this problem, it really is a matter of finding the best food for the birds. As winter is approaching, birds need a high-energy (high-fat) diet in order to survive in cold weather. Hence, I bought a bag of Niger seeds. Niger seeds are mainly used to extract bio-oil. It contains high protein and fat for wild birds.

However, my birds seem like the seeds their favourited seed better than Niger seeds. They learned to push Niger seeds to ground. After one day, I noticed that my bird feeder was empty and Niger seeds were all over the ground.

Seeds on the ground again

I ran out of seed and could not refill the feeder right away. I noticed that the birds were eating the seeds on the ground.

I am glad that the seeds on the ground have brought me new visitors and are not going to waste.

As there was some mixed seed under the Niger seed in the feeder, some birds tried to eat it. They saw the seed inside the clear plastic bottle and tried to eat them directly from outside the bottle.  They also attempted to eat the seeds from the drainage holes in the bottom of the feeder.

Detecting the location of the favourite seed.
Detecting the location of the favourite seed.
Hanging themselves upside down to have the favourite seed.

As my birds worked hard to choose their favourited seeds, I tried to configure what was their preference. I have observed that they picked the white seeds and they need to get them into small pieces with their beak. When I searched on the internet, the Great tits loves sunflower hearts.

Making the seed into smaller pieces.

Furthermore, I noticed that the seeds at the bottom of the bird feeder were clumped and molded. The seeds were wet from rain or moist conditions and there is not enough air movement to dry them out. It is dangerous for birds to eat near mouldy seeds, as they can contract diseases and even die. For example, aspergillosis is typically a disease from mouldy grains.

moldy seeds

I immediately designed a new bird feeder with an awning over the top and a small feeding area to prevent rain drops falling on the seeds.

DIY Bird Feeder – Version 3

But it does not attract many birds. I suspected this is due to:

So there was another new design. I used three layers of sticks and stones to construct the bottom of the bird feeder to ensure that there is enough moving air to keep the feeds dry.

DIY Bird Feeder – Version 4

Finally, I have changed my bird feed from mixed seeds to sunflower hearts only in my new feeder. However, my birds are still very picky!