ncook57's picture

Bird feeders

I recently got a bird feeder station which consisted of a long pole with hanging bits at the top, a seed tray and a water bowl.

I bought this to try to attract more small birds to the garden. Trouble is, the pigeons and magpies come and sit on it and the smaller birds don't get a look in!!!

Anything I can do to deter the bigger birds?

One thing I tried late yesterday afternoon was to position the water bowl directly over and only just above the seed tray. Hopefully that'll stop the big birds getting on the tray, while still allowing the smaller birds under it.

I won't know if this works until the weekend as I leave for work in the dark, and it's dark when I get back!!!



bobthebirder's picture

modified bird feedeer

Anything you can do to make it hard for the larger birds to land on the feeder should work. if you can fix something around the edge of the tray the smaller birds will fly over it and onto the tray bur larger birds won't be able to. Avoid netting or wire as you don't want to hurt the magpies, just deter them. At least you haven't got a squrirel problem - yet!

Bob Ford

mossylog's picture

deterring larger birds

On one of my feeders, I put a 'ceiliing hanger' around it. Let me explain. It has a circular frame at the top, which hangs from a hook above the feeder so the vertical decorative plastic glinty bits hang round the feedeer ports. They hang about 3-4" apart and run down the length of the feeder. No pigeons go anywhere near this one!!! It doesn't bother the smaller birds at all. First success.

I also have a pole feeder like yours and you need to move the water and seed bowls either off it or much further down, as pigeons use those to stand on and peck at the hanging feeder. Eventually, the smaller birds will come and not be bothered by pigeons sitting on top!

Good luck

birminghamox's picture

deterring larger birds

I'd agree with the other comments, something that forms a fairly low roof and makes it harder for the larger birds to land is probably what you need. Some pole feeders do sell roofed bird table platforms that fit on the top of this type of feeder. Having said which, I recenty invested in a smaller branch hanging roofed bird table for this very reason, so that the smaller birds that can not cling onto or perch on a tube feeder could get a look in - to come home yesterday and see two very resolute collard doves crammed into it managing to peck up seed!


ncook57's picture

Well, my idea of putting the

Well, my idea of putting the water bowl directly above the seed tray worked for the pigeons, but the magpies still managed to get under it. I'll probably have to lower the water bowl a bit more.

There are 10 kinds of people, those who understand binary, and those who don't.
Regards, Nick

j.tweedie's picture

Would it be possible for you

Would it be possible for you to have another feeder and site it away from this feeding station?

I've got one of those feeding stations as well, but I also hang a nut and seed feeder from a birch tree therefore all the birds that come to the garden get a fair chance of something to eat. I'm quite happy for Magpies and Wood Pigeons to eat from the tray on the feeding station as most of the smaller birds will then visit the feeders hanging from the tree.

Yesterday I put out fruit nibbles on the ground mainly for the Blackbirds, Robins and other ground feeders. A Starling spotted it, had a few, then disappeared for 30 seconds. Then a small gang of Starlings turned up to eat the nibbles, the first Starling back with its pals I think!

jonny888's picture

I have one of those pole

I have one of those pole feeders too, but because I have water already provided elsewhere in the garden, I made a hole in the plastic bowl for drainage and use it as a second food tray.

I must be lucky because I don't have too many problems with the larger birds mentioned, although they appear occasionally, as do squirrels but they are not a nuisance.

I hang port feeders so that the bottom of the feeder is about a foot above the top of the food trays. This seems to restrict the larger birds' ability to land on the trays. I prefer port feeders to the mesh ones as even large birds find it almost impossible to stand on the trays and eat from the ports.

I hang the peanut feeders from tree branches elsewhere in the garden, so that the base of each feeder is well away from perches, (and I should add that I remove all perches from my feeders prior to hanging them up)


sirhandle's picture

I don't have a pole feeder

I don't have a pole feeder but I have made a feeder out of a long piece of wood and several hanging basket brackets. I have a mix of wild seed and niger seed on it. I find that we do get a few doves and pigeons having a go at it, but something I find interesting is this: whenever the Gold Finches come to feed off the niger feeders, the larger birds all fly away!! The Gold Finches do make a bit of a racket when approaching but it seems to me that the pigeons seem very nervous of these much smaller birds. Has anyone else seen any behaviour like this?

Just go out there and do it!!!

DaveLiddell's picture

Feeder Guardians

I have a couple of feeders with guards over them like the RSPB Guardian range :

This gives all the smaller birds a fighting chance so to speak.

For my starlings etc I have a flat table which they can clear pretty quickly


Goldfinch's picture

Starling problem

I'm having a starling problem. Whenever I put out Mealworms for the smaller birds the Starlings come and devour everything. We also have Niger seed but nothing has gone on it, not even Goldfinches. How do you attract them?

anonymous spotter's picture


You could try planting some teasels, and leave the heads on over the winter. That attracts birds like goldfinches, but you probably need quite a few. It's a trick used on some nature reserves to bring the birds close to hides without using feeders.
No doubt there are other plants that would work too - sunflowers?

sirhandle's picture

Be patient with the niger

Be patient with the niger seed. If the birds arn't used to finding it in your garden it may take a while. Once one Goldfinch has spotted it you can be sure of others following. It took weeks before our first came but now they are on the feeder all day (costs a fortune!). Starlings love mealworms and we actually put them out for the starlings; they're great to watch and one of my favourite birds. If you put mealworms in a peanut feeder, the starlings have a bit of a problem with that but the smaller birds get a chance of feeding. You could try that!

Just go out there and do it!!!

anthonyallen's picture


Blasting Pigeons, I think that they can be a right pain that's why i have given them a new title the BFP (Big Fat Pigeon!!!)
What you have to try and understand is that they rely on food, just as much as the other birds.
If you wanted to you could sprinkle some seed on the floor to try and deter the pigeon from going on the bird table, so other smaller birds get a look in.
"Thats what I do"

Hayley Chandler's picture

Bird feeders

I have smaller individual feeders and don't have this problem. I don't know how big your feeder is but it sounds as if the structure is big enough for the larger birds to perch on, whereas if you have smaller feeders, they just won't be able to get a grip on them. Sorry if this means you have to buy smaller feeders!!

anonymous spotter's picture

It's difficult -

To deter bigger birds without making life too hard for the ones you want.
I have to use caged feeders (table and hanging) because of wood and town pigeons. One of the woodies has worked out that landing on the top of the pole will shake out seed (she/he is a big bird) that can then be gleaned from the ground.
If you can be around to deter the pigeons when they first come - so that the don't get the taste, as it were - then they may well give up.Once they've had a feed, they will keep coming back, I'm afraid.
The advice to put some "sacrificial" feed on the ground isn't a bad one.

Kina's picture


We love our Starlings - but they are starting to take over! The small birds don't seem to get a look in. We put suet pellets out to try to keep them away from the suet balls/squares and coconut halves that we put out for the smaller birds but they devour their food and go onto the little birds food! We put a hanging basket tray with a lid that lowers to try and put them off but even though the lid was only about an inch away from the basket they still got in and then panicked when they got themselves trapped inside. We have a squirrel proof hanging seed feeder (with the cage around it)- it took them a while but they now get in that and empty it! We put food in the pushes away from the bird feeding stand but they have found that! Now, of course, we have the Starling Kindergarten outside - the noise is like a scene from that film 'The Birds' in the morning!
Don't get us wrong, we love them,their colours are beautiful! But they are taking over!
Any other suggestions apart from stop putting suet pellets and mealworms out altogether?


Kluut's picture

Selective feding

Selecting what can get to what food is simple - use wire netting - simplest if you use a traditional roofed bird table where all that is needed is one length round the sides.
1 inch netting will stop house sparrows, hedge sparrows and anything bigger. 2 inch will stop blackbirds and anything bigger -song thrushes will just about get through. 3 inch and bigger will stop pigeons and not much else.
It all depends on how much trouble you want to go to and being able to scrounge some netting off-cuts from somewhere.

anonymous spotter's picture

Caged feeders

Sorry to muddy the waters even further, but I failed to mention one problem about using cages: even on the ground, some blackbirds just won't use them, even though the mesh is clearly not too small. The pigeons stick their heads through ground cages, and they appear to be somehow telescopic!
So you are pretty much stuck with what flies in: the good thing about starlings (apart from the charm) is that they feed in a frenzy then fly off elsewhere. So if you can put a second lot of food out, the less bold birds may get a look in that way.
I think we just have to put up with it and enjoy what does arrive.

Kluut's picture

It is a question of size! And

It is a question of size! And the birds getting accustomed.
Ask anyone with loose fruit-cage netting about blackbirds when fruit ripens - they certainly wish they could get through then - the same applies to people keeping chickens in enclosed mesh runs.
As for telescopic necks - make the "cage" big enough and they can't reach.

jeniallington's picture

This is my very first time

This is my very first time visiting here. I stumbled upon so many interesting stuff within your blog particularly the on-going discussion. From the tons of comments on your posts, I assume I am not the only one relishing reading your website. Keep up the good work.
military academy

jeni allington

chipoil's picture


We made bird feeders out of pine cones covered in a homemade lard and seed mix and this has proved good for the blue tits and coal tit, especially hung on the thin branches of our buddlleia tree, this stops the bigger birds.

But please don't descriminate the bird species, one of the most gorgeous birds to visit our garden has been the wood pigeon, magnificent colouring when looked at closely!

The more starlings the merrier as well. They seem to get a hard time. Magpies are great fun too, a pair nested next door, at first it was like having neighbour's from hell but I grew to like their gregarious behaviour, they also liked to peck at the bricks on the patio wall, anyone have any clues to why, I'm thinking they were after minerals or chalk prior to laying??? Same with jackdaw's, only they went for the mortar on the roof.

AH's picture

pigeon problems

I live in the countryside were there is plenty of wood pigeons around and also have one of the pole feeders. I buy food without any wheat in and find that I do not have many pigeons landing if any, around the feeders. Maybe this is worth trying.