New feeder, still no garden birds!

We have a very small back garden, one side is wooden fence panels, covered in Honeysuckle, the other two sides are covered in ivy. We've been here years and often get blackbirds or robins making a nest in the ivy. We also have a local small colony of sparrows, which sometimes appear.

So, my issue is that I invested in a decent bird feeder a few weeks ago. It has four hanging feeders, one of which contains a suet block (mealworm-based), two others contain different types of garden bird seeds. It has a water bath dish too.

All I'm getting are a local pair of Wood Pigeons and a really cheeky Jackdaw which loves the suet block!

I've seen both the male and female blackbird in the garden (but they're not seed eaters) and the Robin has been about too, but not on the feeder.

I can't help feel that the Pigeons and Jackdaws are putting off the smaller birds from visiting, or could there be another reason for there being no takers for the food? Is it too early to tell maybe?


My 'Birds in Flight' website and Instagram is

  • Hi Roger.
    Both Robins and Blackbirds prefer to feed on the ground, they will both eat sunflower hearts and broken peanuts, you could also try placing the suet block feeder on the ground too.
    Also try replacing one of the seed feeders with a sunflower hearts feeder.

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  • Thanks Alan,
    I may just well gives those ideas a go. Of course, apart from attracting the birds, one of the main reasons that I set this up was to get flight shots for my photography :-)

    My 'Birds in Flight' website and Instagram is

  • Do you have room for a tree stump like I put in my garden Roger to get birds flying to/from it?

    My Flickr photos

  • To deter the pigeons from the feeder I space the feeders just far enough away and the water platform just low enough that they cannot perch and feed.

    I found that the fat balls I ordered a while ago were not popular. The ones my neighbour gave me from Vine House Farm has the blackbirds jumping up to peck at the feeder!

    Other than that I really recommend good quality seed mix. Sunflower hearts are a big hit for tits and sometimes robins. Niger seed gets the gold finches return every day.

    Again, my rubbish seed mix from a local store did nothing. Another neighbour gave me a bag from Vine House Farm and the birds suddenly came.

    The pigeons don't usually scar anything away for me. They wander about below to collect the fallen seed.


    I love birding so much I wrote my own blog. It's a great way to learn and share.

  • I won't mention any names, but the brand of seed can have a great effect on the birds feeding from the feeders.
    I changed to a different no-mess mix, very widely available and cheap, and the number of birds feeding dropped off to about zero. After a few days I tried a different brand of no-mess and almost immediately the birds returned.
    As an experiment I put a pile of each seed on the lawn about 2 feet apart. The following day the cheaper brand was still looking untouched, while the other mix had gone.
    I now use straight sunflower hearts and the range of birds on the feeders is amazing, and the suet blocks bring in several others.
    Although the pigeons may scare birds away from the feeders, they soon return. I will say that a Greater Spotted Woodpecker will just stab at the pigeon, force it away, and then continue feeding.

    Richard B

  • I feel like I shouldn't have name dropped where the better stuff was from (not sure if I broke a rule there). New to the forum and super excited to be able answer questions for once.

    An experiment I did was to put my feeder in the front garden. Exposed, no nearby trees or vegetation and a bit of traffic. No birds.

    The same day I moved it to the back garden there were great tits and blue tits. Within15 minutes!
    The main reason, I believe, is the nearby tree and a great big oak in another garden where the birds play.

    It helps to have the right environment in which to place a feeder.


    I love birding so much I wrote my own blog. It's a great way to learn and share.

  • If there is a tree/bushes nearby then the smaller birds will love the feeder, as there is somewhere for them to hide while eating the food they have taken from the feeder. That extra bit of cover makes all the difference.

    Richard B


    Thanks all for the recent replies.

    A few weeks ago, I moved the feeder closer to the small ivy hedge. Since then, I've seen Sparrows, Robins and Dunnock take from the seed feeders and the suet block feeder. I also know that a pair of Blackbirds have built a nest in the ivy and possibly a pair of Robins (but haven't seen either for a few days). Also saw a wren fly into the ivy a couple of times.
    Still getting the Jackdaws nicking the suet and mealworms and pigeons, which just wander round on the ground picking up the scraps.
    All in all, the situation is better than it was previously! so I feel a lot happier now.

    Once again, thanks for everyone's comments.

    My 'Birds in Flight' website and Instagram is

  • In reply to Roger Hunt:

    The smaller garden birds do like a safe place to sit and watch, or to dart back into from the feeder. If a feeder is too exposed they may not feel safe enough to feed on it.

    I did an experiment when I put my feeder in my exposed front garden.  We'd removed a small tree that used to provide a safe place for birds.

    Nothing happened for weeks, even though people say it takes time for birds to trust a new feeder.

    Within minutes of moving the feeder to the back garden with a couple if trees and done shrubs, there were tits, robins, finches...

    For birds, just like humans it often comes down to location, location, location.


    I love birding so much I wrote my own blog. It's a great way to learn and share.

  • Patiences my young grasshopper. It takes time for birds to 'find' your feeder then trust it enough to feed from it.

    We had a similar situation, put up a bird feeder, no birds using it. We could see Blue, Great and Coal tits flitting by, Goldfinches and Long Tail tits by passing the feeder, Nuthatches screaming at each other and ignoring the feeder, etc. An occasional small bird would visit the feeder.

    Over time, and winter in particular, more and more small birds discovered the feeder and put it on their foraging map. The breakthrough came when adults birds would teach their 'fledglings' all about our bird feeder. Initially, the fledglings would hide in the trees and bushes, calling to their parents. They would observe their parents flying to the feeder.

    Eventually, the fledglings make trial runs at the feeder, normally aborting their landing at the last moment. It takes them a bit of time to screw up their courage to land.

    Thus, every year the number of birds visiting the feeder grows as they are 'taught' where it is.

    Oh, in terms of food: Don't bother with any that contains wheat. The only thing that eats those are pigeons.

    I prefer a general mix, but also lightly crush peanuts in a mortar and pestle. The small birds love these, and by crushing them they last longer. Normally the birds swoop in, grab a nut and get back to cover asap. Hang around the bird feeder too long and they are Sparrow Hawk fodder.

    I also make my own suet balls or seed cake. The store bought suet balls I tend to find smelly, and most of out birds eat them under sufferance.