I am thinking of installing one of those pole multifeeders so the small number of little birds have some extra food supplies. But I have a lot of large birds around, seagulls, crows, jackdaws and, worst of all, magpies. I've read about all the WABI sparrow deterrents and wondered if anyone could suggest magpie deterrents. I saw a happy little band of one female blackbird, one robin, one dunnock and one wren feeding in my cotoneaster this morning and would like to see more, more often! It's not a big garden, and is full of plants for insects, so there is natural food available but I'd like to do more. Thanks
We've had a bit of a problem with magpies here too, Teasel- I'll try and sort out some photos of what we've done to post for you tomorrow.
One thing they really hate is a strobe light- I have a powerful torch with a flashing option, and whenever a maggie lands in our garden I get the torch and point it at them. They usually leave pretty quickly!
This isn't the best solution, because of course you have to see them- but they do get the message that they're not exactly welcome.
Here's one of the first things I did... although this isn't a great photo of but you might get the idea-
I got two long thin bramble branches, and attached them to the arms of the feeding station with gardening wire going from east to west, north to south so they form two hoops across the top of the pole. (The one on the right of my photo has been broken- they do dry out and need replacing about every three or four months or so.)
The branches need to be relatively sturdy so they stay in place, but thin and wobbly enough that they won't support the weight of a magpie, (or pigeon- that's why I started doing it- they were perching on it and pooping all over the feeders!) It also helps to deter squirrels from jumping onto the feeding station from the nearby trees- they don't like jumping directly onto thorny brambles!
Teasel- another thing I did was attach metal tent pegs to the rain hats I put on my feeders- I needed a way to slow down the sparrows who were starting to take over all of our feeders!
I've got nothing against sparrows... but in a small garden like ours, it was getting out of hand (a flock of upwards of thirty or forty birds some days) and I couldn't afford it. Plus, all the others were starting to disappear- didn't see a blue tit, great tit, or even a robin for days on end.
It seems sparrows aren't keen on dangly things near where they feed- but it doesn't bother the others, (you can see from the photo that the goldfinches swing around on the pegs without any problem.) As it turns out, it also deters starlings and prevents bigger birds from getting on the feeder... I haven't seen a magpie even attempt to land on a feeder with these attached. The rain hats are chicken feeder lids I get from a company called Solway.
thanks rowanberry, I've been following your info on sparrow deterrents There aren't many sparrows around at the moment, the number seem to vary a lot from year to year. I'll keep the idea for later if numbers warrant it. I don't even know if I will get any birds - they ignore my birdbath. I had one or two visitors early on and they were bullied away by a magpie The blackbirds do use the pond though, that is very overgrown and sheltered
The seed feeder we have is inside a cage (to keep the squirrels out) but it stops larger birds getting in too - don't know if that would help.
Yesterday I made a feeder from a piece of log. It is about 15cm long and around 5cm in diameter. I've drill a few large holes in the sides, packed them with bits of the square fat cakes and hung it in a tree. Oddly enough a couple of magpies were eyeing it up this morning but couldn't work out how to get to it.
Thanks I've just set up my new feeding station with artificial bramble and it deterred one magpie! Time will tell The trouble with a cage would be that the magpies rule the rather small garden, and when I set up a birdbath, they chased smaller birds away before they even got close. The artificial bramble is green garden wire that I already had. It looked a bit thin so I have twined other stuff around it in parts so it shows up more. Goodness knows what the neighbours think I expect after all my efforts, the small birds will ignore it too
Yes, thanks again! There was honeysuckle growing over the garage but it blew down in the summer. The magpies have worked out a route to the feeders but they aren't happy and don't stay long. As a neighbour feeds the birds as well, and it's easier for the magpies to go there. I've had 2 blue tits, 2 coal tits, a great tit, a robin, a blackbird, and a chaffinch on the feeders so far. The garden also gets regular visits from 2 wrens, long tailed tits and I've recently seen one blackcap and one goldfinch, so there is variety if not numbers :)I just have to watch at "happy hour" when most of them visit! (I haven't quite worked out when that is yet, it may depend on the weather)