The city wildlife garden part two attracting wild birds

While part one of this series focused on excluding wildlife or limiting its access this post covers the measures I have taken so far to encourage wildlife especially birds and hedgehogs,most worked though one or two have yet to bear fruit. An essential part of attracting wildlife was excluding or limiting access for less desirable and more demanding wildlife. Also keeping birds safe from cats .

izzyand magpie

I didn’t want to totally exclude bigger birds such as pigeons or magpies from transient visits but didn’t want them staying in the garden or having access to all the bird food and feeders.


I placed sliver balls and mirrors on the large flat shed roof that’s prevented them settling there and I feed them with cat dry food and throw seed and food scraps in the fox channel nr the shed so the magpies focus their attention there and on the lawn .Originally several magpies looked quite scruffy having just raised young and their extra diet of cat food seems to have made them look much better

magpie parent

I also wanted to keep feeding the woodpigeons


These big birds get bread and seed and scraps scattered across the lawn. I also throw food out for other ground feeding birds ,putting out mealworm and throwing our apple cores and chopped up bruised fruit in the garden attracted blackbirds .It was late summer so two juveniles seemed to have a truf war until eventually one male blackbird  won and  the now more or less black male and  female visit quite regularly ,I throw food under the hedges for them and apples in the lawn which they like but the magpies don’t brown blackbrid

The smaller ground feeding birds I feed under some low trees. The magpies sometimes raid this  spot but usualy as its morning when I throw all the ground food out they are busy eating the big chunks of leftovers and nuts.We have dunnocks now and some other

mystery birds.

mystery sparrow bird

mystery bird2

I also put up a variety of bird feeders ,a suet block holder which the magpies occasionally manage to steal from but I don’t mind as its cheap .

crow 1

Theres also a separate suet ball holder and suet balls which is under a small tree and safely covered for the smaller birds to eat at ,it attracts a lot of tits and I think sparrows but its hidden so I am not sure. The main feeders are on an old washing pole.Within days of putting up a half coconut of suet and insect or mealworm mix a woodpecker appeared and now there seems to be a pair one larger more clearly  patterned bird and another with less distant colouring which I would guess is either a juvenile or female. I believe its a lesser  spotted woodpecker.They are also both quite keen on sunflower hearts and peanuts but their visits drop off  slightly if there’s no coconut feeder out as that’s were they spend most of their time,though they also like the sunflower hearts

woodpecker back view

woodpecker back

The combination of a coconut feeder,suet block feeder and wider mesh feeder for nuts ,peanuts and suet pellets has seen a very quick increase in bird life.We quickly found nuthatches visiting regularly,more or less always for the coconut suet feeder nuthatch 1

A robin comes regularly and eats both ground food and the suet robin

A huge assortment of tits which take food from both feeders and also shelter in the trees that I covered with mesh

mystery bird blue tit and nuthatch tit tits at bridfeeder

We also have a visiting redstart  and  once at least had redpoll at the feeder Also on the lawn a ,thrush  though it stays in the bushes so its hard to tell which kind of thrush and I have once seen a Meadow pipit ,which was eating a cheap seed mix I throw out for the pigeons . Without doubt the biggest draw is the coconut feeder and the variety of birdlife increased within days of placing it up ,Its also too low hanging for the magpies to steal from and the squirrels cant master it either whereas they usually steal from the mesh feeder

squirrel close up

I don’t mind and love watching them try an assortment of ways to get to the food

. squirrel upside down c

I find them amusing and as we don’t live in an area that is at all likely to attract red squirrels they are at least in my garden quite a welcome sight squirrel sat

either brightening breakfast or providing entertainment for our cat who doesn’t make much of an effort to stalk birds but does seem obsessed with the squirrels Izzy and squirrel

I get around the squirrels thieving by  providing a big bird and squirrel proof feeder half hidden in bush for the smaller more timid birds to eat at without having to brave the magpies and woodpecker.Its on a washing line so its impossible to access unless you fly and has a cage that’s too small for even starlings ,when there’s predatory birds around the little tits and sparrows hop out of the tree grab food and fly back into the tree or bush ,the scraps fall out of it onto the ground under the bush and the little ground feeders eat it feeder 1

In addition to these feeders I had a niger seed feeder that saw no birds at all use it even though I tried half a dozen different sites over several weeks ,I have a mixed seed window feeder also totally unused ,though I am not sure if its the window position or the food that’s the problem so I am going to try a mesh feeder ,I tried mixed small seed in the feeder and that’s not been eaten either but I am going to keep trying as now winters coming its possible more finches may appear. The front garden mesh feeder attracts a lot of sparrows which now roost in the tree and bushes close by and a robin.The suet feeder which is nearer the pavement side doesn’t get many customers .I put a large terracotta casserole dish with a stone and pebbles in the front garden and its also very popular as a bird bath and hedgehog water bowl though its so small I didn’t expect it to attract anything Failures The niger seed feeder the plastic small seed feeder the window feeder The bird table when it had no top attracted sparrow but mostly the magpies stole food sparrow

Since I replaced it with a recommended table with a roof ,no birds  will feed there however temping the food. Though its a big hit with a young squirrel

squirel nut

Birds use the water bowl under it but wont land on the table. I am planning bird friendly plantings so that any potential increase in the bird population has a food supply that’s not reliant on my continued presence  and more feeders to see if I can attract finches and thrushes so I will update this post in a few weeks


About hathawaysofhaworth

I am a Historian and author living in the north
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