Sunday, 8 January 2012

To Feed Or Not To Feed?

Photos Copyright: Maggie May

After a bout of rainy weather, I went out to top up the bird feeders. I noticed that the seed gets very yucky in wet weather and mould is not at all good for birds. So I bought a gleaming new plastic dome, which has three holes for the birds to perch on while they take the drier seed. This surely must be much more rain proof.
That was several weeks ago and although I don't watch all day long, so far, I haven't seen anything land on the new globe. I think the shiny reflections scare them away. This makes me wonder why they are being sold in leading garden centres if the birds are scared of them.
The old faithfuls come to the old feeder and take their chance on the soggy contents.

Although we used to have a large flock of sparrows who stopped to feed everyday, they seemed to vanish very suddenly a good while ago. After a long time, three came back and they have gradually built their numbers up to a few more. We also have blue tits and great tits visiting from time to time and a robin.
I'm not sure whether I should be feeding them or not because some of my neighbours seem to have several cats who prowl round my garden (as well as dirty in it.) Its funny how you can really love your own cats........ and I used to have three...... (who fouled other peoples' gardens), but be resentful of other peoples' fouling mine.

Anyway, I do find feathers about in the garden and wonder just how many birds get killed coming to my feeders and wonder if it is balanced out by the ones who are sustained by the food, who might not survive at all if they didn't have my seeds to eat. It seems to be a juggling act.
What do others feel about this dilemma?

I'm pleased to say that Harry is picking up a bit now, after being diagnosed with anaemia following his last chemo. So it is liver for him twice a week (yuk, I'm practically a vegetarian) as well as iron pills.
So here's hoping that he will get over this blip and feel like going out more, pretty soon.


mrsnesbitt said...

Great news about Harry Maggie!
We feed the birds and they also help themselves to the henfood. I know what you mean about it going mouldy too. I buy food from Aldi who provide a long line of various foods then once eaten I replace - infact having just said that I notice I need to do just that! lol! Good job you reminded me eh? lol!

CiCi said...

You want to feed the birds but you don't want to advertise a buffet for the neighborhood cats. I know what you mean. I watch out the window as I walk by or while sitting at my computer and if I see a cat I go to the door and tell him to scat. I do like cats very much but it just isn't fair of me to invite and encourage birds to visit if cats are going to get them. These cats are house cats who are fed regularly so they don't need the birds for tasty treats too.

Glad to hear Harry will be eating liver and taking iron. He should be feeling better real soon.

Hilary said...

It's the ground-feeding birds which are vulnerable to the neighbourhood cats. Your feeder birds are more likely being preyed upon by hawks.

I think we're getting more positives out of feeding the birds. There's the absolute joy of watching them and learning from/about them. And the pleasure of knowing that we're adding to their quality of life by nourishing them. Far more birds thrive because of our feeders than those which are victimized by cats and other creatures.

As much as I dislike it when a hawk makes a meal of one of "my" birds, I do realize that they're equally important and must eat also. That's just the way it is. Cats, on the other hand are already well-fed but nature dictates their instincts also.

I'm so happy to hear that Harry is doing better, Maggie.

Anonymous said...

Glad to hear Harry is doing better.

Bird feeders need to be high up so that cats can't get to the birds, I guess.

Akelamalu said...

Good to hear Harry is recovering.

We haven't been feeding the birds as the weather is still quite mild for the time of year and there's still food for them to find for themselves. I know what you mean about prowling cats though, it really annoys me.

cheshire wife said...

Pleased to read that Harry is feeling better.

I only feed the birds when it is cold. We have had too many birds' nests built on the cottage and I prefer not to encourage them.

rosaria said...

I have neighbors who feed wildlife here. All of them are not from these parts, I may add. Some hunt deer and elk in the wild, but feed the same in their backyard.

I wanted to when we first moved here; but, my husband warned me about domesticating wild animals, making them dependent on us, instead of following their instincts and their habits.

Celia said...

Wonderful news about Harry. I keep a large water filled squirt gun handy to discourage cats in my yard. I don't know if you have access to Fels Naphtha soap but it seems to work discouraging cats and racoons from using the flower beds for potty duty. Here it comes in boxes of flakes or you can get bars and shred them with a cheese shredder. It really did chase away critters without damage to the animal or the garden. It was a tip from our WA State Rural extension agent.

Mimi said...

I agree that it's lovely to watch the antics of birds at a feeder, it's better than any tv!
I've enjoyed reading comments here, and learned from other people's knowledge.
So, it seems better to feed. I too had the water pistol to deter cats, cos I don't like cats and they attacked our rabbit when he was tiny.

Delighted that Harry is picking up. Leafy green veg, dried fruit and cocoa are good veggie sources of iron, and lots of vitamin C will help his body absorb the iron.

Bernie said...

So happy to hear Harry is feeling better, you must be so relieved. You are so kind to the birds and animals Maggie......:-)Hugs

Gail said...

I have a very similar dilemma. We have bird feeders and normally they attract large numbers, even though we have a cat and there are quite a few in the neighbourhood. However since we extended our conservatory, it's closer to the feeders and causes reflections, so we don't get many birds feeding. I don't have much flexibility about moving the feeders unfortunately. Last year I had a pretty feeder from Lakeland which was never visited, so I took it down. It seems some types of feeder do repel the birds. There's a good article in Gardeners' World magazine this month which talks about the best types of feeders, how to spot diseases in birds, the best types of food, etc.

SueAnn said...

I am glad he is perking up a bit. Prayers for him for sure.
As for feeding birds...I just don't do it. Too many predators around here.


Rose said...

I'm so glad to hear that Harry is feeling better, but I'm feeling rather sorry for him having to eat liver twice a week--yuck!

Your new bird feeder looks like a great idea, but I wonder, too, if the reflection from it might scare birds off. Surely they tested this before selling it? We have cats that spend part of the day outside, but I still feed the birds. I think the birds are actually safer feeding from an above-ground bird feeder than pecking on the ground for food. I'm still waiting for my winter birds to come, though--we've had such a mild winter so far that they seem to be feeding elsewhere.

Strawberry Jam Anne said...

I used to find that the birds took a while to get used to new feeders Maggie. Maybe they don't like the shape as well as the reflections. I do miss feeding the birds since we moved to our flat, it was always such a pleasure to see them in the garden.

So pleased to hear that Harry is beginning to pick up. My best wishes to you both. A x

Mary G said...

My mother always said that she could either cook liver or eat it but not both.
I feed, in spite of cats, hawks and the threat of mould. I got a nyger seed feeder with a bottom that is easy to take off and I dump wet seed out. Expensive, but safest. And I put out feeders designed for perching birds, way too high for cats to visit. Can't do a thing about the hawks and the owls, though.

Deb said...

I have always enjoyed feeding the birds but last winter we had a horrible problem with flying squirrels. They are nocturnal and would visit the feeders at night so I never even saw them but then the squirrels got into our attic space and truly made a mess. So this winter we have decided to not feed the birds which makes me sad. But I am VERY happy that Harry is feeling better !!

Jackie said...

First of all, I am so very very happy to hear that Harry is better. Thank you, God. Thank you.
You know that I had to Google that bird feeder to see if anyone had said anything about it scaring the birds. No one has said anything about it...and I'm hoping that birds will gather and feast from it soon. I've noticed that there aren't as many birds (this fall and winter) as there usually are....and hope that they will return in droves this spring.
Beautiful bird feeder, Maggie.
Love you, my friend....

Anonymous said...

We have two very old bird feeders that we've had for donkey's years and they get filled up at least once a week. I think these inventors get a little carried away sometimes with their new space-age inventions, and actually forget that old-fashioned usually does the trick!

CJ x

Eddie Bluelights said...

Hi Maggie - very pleased about Harry and hope the liver and iron tablets do the trick with combating anaemia.

I think Blue Tits, Great Tits and Sparrows are too quick to be caught by cats - unless they are very young and just flown the nest. We have lost a number like that.

It is always very difficult to please these little creatures with feeders, nest boxes or whatever. As I tried to say in my post they are extremely fussy but I have found that if they decide to nest one year then there is a good chance they will return in subsequent years provided the old nests are removed after season. I think part of the reason why they are not taking food from the feeder is that because of the mild weather there is lots of grub (literally) out there for them to eat.

What a coincidence we both posted about birds. Love Eddie x

Wendy said...

I am so glad to hear Harry's on the mend. That's wonderful news!

I like that birdfeeder. Looks like it's squirrel proof.

I think Hilary answered your question well and I also learned from her answer. I often wondered if we were really doing birds a good deed or just making them dependent on us. Now I know better.

Jeni said...

Have patience with the healing process and hold your nose around the liver! Sounds like some good news to me though all around there for Harry and thus, for you too. As to the birds, I enjoy them well enough but have never got into the feeding and housing of 'em -other than the parakeet I had many, many years ago in my early teens. Now go cook that liver and make it really good for him!

Suldog said...

I'd say you should feed the birds and not worry about the kitties. Unless a bird is not right in some way, it's damn hard for a cat to catch it. I've seen many, many cats try to catch birds in my yard, but I've yet to see one actually caught.

Nezzy said...

First of all sweetie, know I'm prayin' for that Harry of yours. We serve a mighty God.

I feed year round and have a vast assortment of wild birds. I'm saddened every now and again when I find 'feathers' of one of my beauties but it is indeed the circle of life. Ya know, Mother Nature and all.

I find that feedin' brings enough joy to compensate the losses.

God bless and have a stupendous day.

Harry...healin' prayers are comin' your way!

RNSANE said...

There are so many feral cats around the village where I am staying in India but, mostly, we have huge crows and I don't think any of the cats will go after those. There is one brilliant yellow golden oriole that comes early mornings that I do worry about, though. So far, no pretty yellow feathers in the compound.

I do hope Harry improves. I love liver and onions...if it weren't so high in cholesterol, I'd eat it often...though my cholesterol is well below normal, I feel like I shouldn't tempt fate.

I even have a poem in my first published poetry book about liver and onions.

Liver and Onions

I eat out pretty often,
But seldom do I see,
A favorite menu item,
That always pleases me.

I grew up eating liver,
With onions piled on high,
Sauteed first in bacon,
With a tasty piece of rye.

Some turn up their noses,
At this kind of fare,
I truly am a connoisseur,
I even like mine rare!

Foie gras is very popular,
With all the snobby bunch,
But plain old liver and onions,
Is just a blue plate lunch.

I eat it every chance I get,
And feel I’ve had a treat,
As a long time comfort food,
For me, it can’t be beat!

Carmen Henesy

Copyright (c) 2010 by Carmen Henesy All rights reserved

Ayak said...

Blogger has prevented me from commenting for ages Maggie but suddenly this morning I'm able to do so.

I stopped feeding the birds here a while ago as there are far too many feral cats here and I can't bear to see the feathers scattered everywhere.

Brian Miller said...

what a cool feeder...our squirrels are notorious for getting into the feeders. that is great news on harry