I have feeders in my garden and each year I complete the RSPBNBLG Garden Bird survey, as well as the Big Garden Birdwatch.
I provide Niger and Sunflower seeds, fat balls and fat pellets all contained in hanging feeders.
Looking at the survey results this year, I realised that I was not seeing any ground feeding birds in my garden e.g. Robin, Thrush, Blackbird, etc. so I asked Santa for a ground feeding tray and cover for Christmas (I have been a good boy this year, honest). The reason I wanted a cover for the feeder is that Wood Pigeons and Feral Pigeons visit the garden and I knew they would devour anything I put on the ground before the Robins and Thrushes got a chance.
Santa [ahem – your darling wife – edited by aforementioned] was very kind and also left me a ground feeding songbird mix comprising Sunflower Hearts, Peanut Granules, Pinhead Oats, Raisins, Oats, and Dried Mealworms.
I initially placed the ground feeder in the middle of the lawn and was surprised that no birds used the feeder. The Magpies were very interested, but couldn’t squeeze through the mesh. However, the local grey squirrel was very happy with the new offering, spreading his discerning palate between the hanging Sunflower feeders and the ground feeder.
After a couple of days I moved the feeder to the edge of the lawn by the bushes and flower borders and it was an instant success. The next morning I saw Robins, Chaffinches and Blackbirds investigating the feeder alongside the usual Blue and Great Tits. I’m sure more birds will come along once word gets around that a “new restaurant” has opened for business.
When choosing a cage for feeders, you need to decide what size mesh you want. Santa supplied mine from Ark Wildlife who give a very clear indication of the choices:
Large Mesh Ground Feeder Cage guards against cats and excludes larger birds such as pigeons, crows and pheasants.
Small Mesh Ground Feeder Cage guards against cats, medium and large sized birds along with most squirrels and starlings.
Please note: If you still want blackbirds to be able to access the food, please select the large mesh size.
I selected the large mesh as I wanted to attract Thrushes, I realised this meant that the squirrels could also squeeze through the mesh.