Our Winged Buddies

Trisha and l had a small comment conversation last week about the pigeons in the back of my garden here in Willow.

I feed the birds here outback as indeed does my good mate and next-door neighbour, Edward. Only some people feed birds in the town of Sandwich. I know in the street l live in that of the 15 or so houses, only three feed birds. I have noticed in town centres that very few private residences put seeds out and have the desire to be bothered.

Over the last couple of years, Edward and l have honed our feeding times and skills to attract many winged friends to visit our gardens. This has been achieved by using different feeding methods and adopting different feeding strategies and seed varieties.

We feed all year round, too and have noticed migrational shifts from some of our winged guests.

In recent times or a more defined line, especially in the last six months, the way we feed the birds has shifted. Grain is still more expensive to buy, and 25 kg bags of bird feed have shot up from £12.50 to, at times, £25.

These price hikes make buying seed mixes a little more careful. I used to regularly purchase an assortment of supplements ranging from sunflower hearts, soldier fly larvae, mealworms and waxworms and even more occasionally, peanuts. However, l am more mindful to cost these days.

Now l tend to purchase an all-rounder wild bird mixture and mix in black sunflower seed, suet pellets and occasionally mealworms. I also feed suet balls and half-shell suet coconuts. Edward buys a finer seed mix and also suet balls. However, we attract between eighteen to twenty-three, perhaps four different species. They also garden hop frequently.

My garden, for instance, has something that Edwards does not, and that is l have a worm farming business, and my ornamental beds are filled with additional microbes and earthworms. Additionally, my garden is set to a wilding layout, whilst Edwards is more formal. He does have more bush-like shrubs and a couple of trees whilst mine has taller perches and bushier shrubs.

The two gardens, therefore, offer the visitors an excellent range of mixed environments to feed and nest within. The species we share are without symbol, species exclusive to Edwards garden are read as such *, whilst exclusive to mine are read as #.

Robin, Collared Dove, Great Tit, Goldfinch, Chaffinch, Wood pigeon#, Parakeet#, Blackbird, Starling#, Blue Tit, House Sparrow#, Magpie#, Jay#, Wren, Goldcrest, Long Tailed Tit, Jackdaw#, Dunnock, Coal Tit*, Greenfinch, Song Thrush, Common Seagull, Feral Pigeon#, Carrion Crow#, Common Kestrel#.

Quite a selection, as you can see. When l first moved here, Edward would always say, “I only have big birds visiting the garden and never any smaller species!” So l set about to change that for him and adapted and introduced new ways and vessels to feed and use to encourage the smaller species.

It’s not that l don’t ever have smaller British bird species come into the garden here in Willow. I do, but for the more significant part of the year, l only sees them during specific seasons, while Edward may see the smaller species more often throughout the year.

The switch is that l now have medium-sized to larger bird species frequently visiting the feeding methods l have here. With changing costs, l have also changed the way l feed. I no longer have specific hanging seed feeders, but l do have hanging suet feeders.

They make less mess on the garden gravel, but the fallen suets attract more earthworms and microbes to the surface, attracting other species to feed more favourably on the ground.

I have many favourites who do choose to visit Willow garden.

Slugs love suet, and blackbirds love slugs. It’s a feeding frenzy come the spring season, and the symbiosis relationship is loved by the blackbird, although not so much by the slug.

I still use the bird table but only for suet, and l still hang the half-shell coconut suet feeders out for the robin.

The starlings and thrushes visit for most of the year, aside from the late autumn and winter months, and the starlings especially are fond of the water features for bathtimes!

However, smaller to medium species aside, l have always been fond of the medium to larger species. Unlike some gardens and gardeners who do not want those species to visit as they consider them a nuisance, l welcome them. Of the larger species, l have a particular fondness for the magpies, woodpigeons, jackdaws, collared doves and feral pigeons, aka city doves or street pigeons as they are sometimes referred to.

They are a species that is the wilder ancestor of the domestic pigeon and are occasionally still classed as rock doves.

I have a visiting flock that numbers around forty, and they have come to appreciate the genuinely specific way l now feed the more significant visitors to the garden. This is achieved via spacious shallow-bottomed scatter trays within more oversized collection trays. This way, no seed is lost to the ground, attracting mice and encouraging weeds to sprout in the gravel.

I feed twice a day, morning and later afternoon, this way it usually attracts 1] the flock and 2] other passing birds, so everyone who uses this tray system can feed – be this the collared doves, jackdaws, magpies, starlings, woodpigeons or indeed the ferals.

The ferals, however, have come to look forwards to feeding times and now gather either on Edward’s roof or the perch above the worm farms. It was this endearing feature which Trisha and l were discussing, and you can see it below in the gallery.

A casual observer would be forgiven for thinking these birds had never been fed, let alone seen food. However, that is not the case. The pigeons have become so used to being fed that they will award subtle hints, from tapping on the patio windows to low-flying us if we are in the garden to landing on our heads or shoulders or simply cooing to us from Edward’s rooftop.

Many class pigeons as vermin or pests to the urban environment; l am not one of those people and, at times, consider people to be the more significant pest to society as a whole.

Thanks for reading, see you next time.

Designs – Earthly Comforts – Inspired by Nature – see collection here

Published by The Autistic Composter

Earthly Comforts is a wildlife journaling scrapbook focusing on the countryside, wildlife biodiversity and environmental conservation, flora and fauna volunteering projects, gardening, composting and vermiculture, inspiration, poetry and photography.

34 thoughts on “Our Winged Buddies

  1. How interesting! I have a small bird feeder in some trees behind the house that has suet and a seed mix. I also try to keep flowers and foliage for everyone (like butterflies, bees etc). When I can I will put out half oranges for orioles and the like as well. Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey Jen 🙂

      Yes we need to do as much as we can when we can. I think many households these days are no longer bothered – but if we don’t help our avian friends the way the world is changing they will simply vanish from our sight.

      Kudos to you 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Love pigeons so much ❤️ always reminds me of my grandfather ❤️

    Lol Suze getting it ready for them … a little like Alfred Hitchcock ? Lol

    That is awesome – you do so much for the world as just one person – very impressive ❤️ you have a wonderful heart

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It is/they are funny. They have little characters and personalities of their own and you come to know them.

      Like The Sentinel – she/he is usually the first one down on a perch to give who ever is in the garden the heads up … in case you forget or have forgotten.

      Knocker is the one that is knocking on the windows or will land in the trays and peck knock.

      There are two Swingers – they swoop on to your head or your shoulders or land really close to you.

      Wonky Foot has learned if it looks like it has a wonky foot, the seed will increase slightly …

      You know, pigeons don’t miss a trick 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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