Variety is the spice of life

 We live just east of Lewes on the edge of the South Downs National Park. We’re very luck to back onto a large field and have no houses as far as the eye can see. Currently we have a peanut feeder, bird seed feeder and two suet feeders (one for balls and one for slabs). We vary the type of suet often. Recently I had to build a self-named JDU (Jackdaw-protection Unit) to stop the birds decimating the food supply within a morning. Essentially it’s just a cylinder about two foot in diameter with a domed roof of green plastic fencing material that allows the small birds in and the big ones out. We tend to get (what we think is) a family of greater-spotted woodpeckers (mum, dad and juvenile), coal, blue and great tits, house and tree sparrows, starlings and a robin or two. We know within the village there are plenty of gold-, green-, and chaffinches as we’ve seen them flying around. Also a green woodpecker will occasionally feed around the bottom of the JDU but I assume he/she spends most of its time hiding in the long grass of the field behind. For the past two years we’ve also been lucky with housemartins in the eves but sadly found their eggs smashed in the garden a couple months  ago and they have disappeared (we assumed high wind as nest was incomplete or magpies). Anyway, sorry about all the waffle but felt I needed to set the scene to get some answers to some questions we have and any further advice. We have just got back from ten days away, the feeders are empty so don’t have the usual host of birds here. We have immediately noticed a pair of goldfinches and a green finch in the garden which we have never seen in the garden before. So my questions/questions are: are the birds we are getting outcompeting/scaring away the finches and other less bold birds? Should we hang the feeders further apart so there’s more space? I have great plans for a bigger JDU to give the birds space. Will different seeds/suet attract different birds? Of course we love seeing our “regulars” but would like some variety that we know is about in the village! Many thanks for any help or advice. Tom

  • Hi,
    Re house martin mysterious egg smashing, you said you had house sparrows. That is far more likely the reason for eggs on the ground under the nest than magpie or wind (predators wont leave eggs around, even if they manage to get in to nests).
    I'm not a big fan of bird feeding, partly because I have a running battle trying to conserve house martins here. Bird feeding definitely compounds the issue for them, so I'll leave your question for others who like to supplementary feed to hopefully reply.

  • More background info re house martin smashed eggs are here, here, here and here.