Tuesday 2 April 2013

Nature's Feast For Siskins

There are many birds I'd like to see visiting my garden, but most I just have to accept are unlikely. It'd be a bit sensational if a merlin perched up on the fence, though to be honest, a sprawk doing that would make a change from their usual high speed attack runs, scaring everything away and not posing for a picture after.

One bird that I could hope for though, during the winter months, and one that has visited my Dad's garden is a siskin, but despite my efforts to date, I've not seen one. And it's not like I haven't tried. I put out all manner of foods for the birds, black sunflower seeds, sunflower hearts, general mixes, nyjer seed, peanuts, suet blocks and balls. The garden birds have a better diet than I do! Redpolls yes, siskins, no.

So when I was contacted and asked if I'd try out some products from a company called Nature's Feast, I thought "Why not". I have of course heard of the company before, as (Wildlife) Kate works with them and I'd purchased a Twist Feeder from her some months back.

Unwrapping the box I had been given, I found another Twist Feeder inside along with 3 packs of seed. Black sunflower seeds and hearts, plus a new one on me, High Energy Supreme. A mix of all manner of goodies by the sound of it: naked oats, sunflower hearts, red and white dari, red and Japanese millet, chopped peanuts, canary and nyjer seed, suet pellets, hempseed and vegetable oil. And most interestingly, on the bag it claimed to attract siskins!

Moving one of the feeder posts closer to my conservatory, to make it easier for me to see what was on them, without reaching for my binoculars each time, I rigged up an existing black sunflower seed feeder (attracts blue, great and coal tits, plus green, bull and chaffinches) and hung the new Twist Feeder next to it, hoping the familiar one would bring the birds in, and then the new one would take their fancy.

I was interested to see how the 3 seed mixes would fare, as before I'd used sunflower hearts, black sunflower seeds and a general mix, and the birds had barely touched the mix, favouring the hearts first and then the black seed.

Unsurprisingly after closing the conservatory door and plonking myself down to watch, nothing whatsoever arrived to use the feeders, not even the resident robins! Give it time, I thought...

I think the new feeders and food were in good time, as shortly after putting out the new feeder, winter had another blast, and I found the garden under a foot of snow! And both feeders were being used, thankfully. Aside from the finches and tits, I noticed that the house sparrows had also taken a shine to the new feeder along with starlings, which usually target only the suet balls / blocks. The robins seemed to enjoy chasing the dunnocks from the food, and anything spilled, was gratefully accepted by the blackbirds, collared doves and anything missed by them, hoovered up by the fat wood pigeons. Even the pair of song thrushes braved the blackbirds to reach some of the bits.

The benefit of the new feeder is that you can easily see which of the mixes is being consumed the most, and I could see that one was almost empty already. I initially thought as it was light in colour, that it must be the hearts but it wasn't. The High Energy Mix was proving to be popular, so I filled that back up, and sat back again to see what was eating it.

Finches - flocks of greenfinch, a couple of bullfinches and chaffies. The goldfinches stayed down the far end of the garden, hogging the nyjer seed feeder. Then I saw something bright and yellow. Despite being closer, I grabbed the bins anyway for a look.

Yes!! A vibrant male siskin, waiting in the branches of the nearby buddleia bush. A short fluttering flight and it landed straight on to the Twist Feeder and started to merrily peck away at the seed.

Better still, seconds later, a paler bird appeared - a female siskin, and she joined him on the feeder.

Fabulous. Getting a shot meant scuttling out of the conservatory and upstairs, for a clean shot out of the bedroom window.

I've only seen a pair so far, but I'm almost out of the favoured mix, so I'll have to get some more if it works this well.

The local squirrels have also found the feeder, and a way up to it, but as it's well made and rugged, it isn't damaged by them, unlike some feeders I've purchased and seen chewed to bits over time. And as the feeder is of a decent size, it doesn't need to be refilled daily.

Admittedly, I am fortunate to have a decent sized garden and a good variety of birds visiting it. People often ask me what they could do to attract different birds to their gardens, and I've always suggested using a variety of seed mixes. After this experience, I'd have to recommend Nature's Feast feeders and food to them, as not only have they kept the usual suspects well fed, but attracted a new one too.

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