Finches wasting huge amounts of seed

I've got lots of finches coming to the garden, but they are going through seriously huge amounts of sunflower seeds every day, which is working out to be really expensive. If they were eating it all that'd be fine but they are chucking at least a third of what they eat on the ground. I'm feeding them sunflower seed hearts. I feed them from two squirell and big bird proof seed feeders (the kinds that a cover comes over the ports if anything too heavy tries to get onto the feeder). I've got loads of greenfinches, a couple of chaffinches, and a pair of bulfinches, all of which mainly use these two feeders. Whilst this is great for the 4 dunnocks that I have in the garden, which just won't seem to go to the bird table, basically it's mainly feeding one fat pigeon that sits around all day waiting for them too come and chuck his dinner to him. Whilst I have no problem with pigeons, I consider that they can fend for themselves, and i don't wish to pay rather a lot of money to make them any fatter than they already are. I've tried chopping up the seeds in a food processor but that didn't appear to make things any better. I'm wondering whether giving them sunflower seeds without being husked would be better, as I suspect that what's happening is that they're "husking" the hearts? I know that I could put down a tray etc to catch the fallen seed with a guardian over it to stop the pigeon getting to it, but I don't want to put it back into the feeder as they poop on it at the same time as chucking it out and don't want to introduce bacteria into the feeder tube, and they throw away so much that the smaller birds wouldn't keep up with clearing what they waste. The one good thing is that at least they're not encouraging rats as the pigeon does clear up the mess, but I'd rather have a way to stop them producing the mess in the first place, if anyone happens to know of one. I've got a great lot of birds in the garden and also have a covered bird table (protected by a guardian), which I put mealworms and sunflower seeds into, which mainly attracts robins, blue, coal and great tits. 2 hanging mesh peanut feeders, which get tits on them, a plate which is covered with a guardian with mealworms only which gets robins and tits and a hanging seed feeder with a guardian with kibbled peanuts which mainly gets blue and coal tits. I've also got a niger feeder, which had a couple of gold finches too for a couple of weeks, but they've dissapeared now. I've got a hanging bird bath with stones in it for different heights and a ground bird bath, again with stones in it for different heights.
  • I have the same problem as you all here.
    As soon as my two feeders are empty, I do not feed for two days.
    They eat off the ground and pretty much clean up.
  • I also have this problem. When I came back from holiday the hearts were festering on the ground and growing fungus. The ground birds don’t eat them and they just fester there. It’s costing me a fortune. I put the hearts in a blender thinking that would help but all birds seemed to completely ignore them and the food just started to rot in the feeder. The tits and robins fly to the feeder, grab a heart and fly off with them but the goldfinches take up permanent residence on the feeder pulling out hearts, nipping a tiny bit off them and throwing them on the ground. I’ve made a rod for my back because if I don’t get out there most days to clean them up I’m left with a nasty mould growing and sunflowers sprouting up in the lawn and flower beds. What I really need is a big circular bowl-shaped mesh catcher under the feeders to catch the seeds. Looks like I may need to fashion one myself
  • As this is a very old thread I probably won't be helping the OP much but might help someone else reading; I make up my own mix of sunflower heart chips, peanut granules and suet pellets. As all the pieces are small, nothing gets wasted. The birds hardly drop anything since I started doing this and the fat wood pigeons I can't rid my garden of barely get anything to eat, despite hanging around all day under the feeders. Except when I shoo them off, that is!

    Also, the sunflower seeds can't germinate if they do get dropped because they're no longer whole.
  • Just picked up on this and having the same issue. I use a small seed songbird mix and they threw everything out. I then mixed in a quantity of black sunflower seeds. They ate those and threw the rest out. I'm thinking of using another feeder with just sunflower seeds in to see if they prefer that. Anyone with any experience of doing this or other thoughts. I live near a stream and I'm now inviting the rats in which I'm keen to put a stop to.

  • Hi Gordon, absolutely recommend feeding ‘straights’ ie. just sunflower hearts instead of mixes, as otherwise each bird sifts through the mix to find what they like, chucking the rest on the ground. Even with this, goldfinches and sparrows still tend to be messy and so I’ve attached trays just an inch below the caged feeder (the same width as the cage so big birds can’t perch), and then the robins and tits jump in the tray. I occasionally scoop some of the food back into the tube if it’s clean (which it always has been so far) but if it was wet/pooey I’d chuck it of course. Very very little ends up on the ground with this set-up, just about enough for my two dunnocks.