"Self-sufficiency does not mean 'going back' to the acceptance of a lower standard of living. On the contrary, it is the striving for a higher standard of living, for food that is organically grown and good, for the good life in pleasant surroundings... and for the satisfaction that comes from doing difficult and intricate jobs well and successfully." John Seymour ~ Self Sufficiency 2003

Saturday, 23 July 2016

Feeding the feathered wildlife

I feel so sorry for the wild birds in winter.  Seed is at a minimum, it's cold (and wet), and they are busy formulating their eggs for laying in Spring.
Our sugar water bird feeder
So, apart from our sugar water feeder, I try and give them some seed.
Grrrrrrr!  Those chickens just love the exact spot
where I throw the wild bird seed every evening!
I have been scattering it on the grass, but those wily 100% free range chickens and the rooster have found the spot where I normally throw a handful out for the wild birds in the late afternoon.
Their 24 / 7 / 365 source of food - apart from
 the entire garden...!!
Which chases away the wild birds so that they can eat the seed.  Given the gourmet food (laying pellets, sunflower seeds, pearl barley, crushed corn and lentils - not to mention the grated carrot and cabbage as a treat) that the chickens are provided with on a 24 / 7 / 365 basis, it doesn't sit comfortably with me that they need to guzzle the wild birds food as well.
Pretty - but surely a lot of seed must spill on
 the ground?
I have posted before about recycling plastic containers into bird feeders, but the above pic seems to me to be very wasteful.  All that seed on the spoon section that will fall on the ground.
I still want to make
one of these bird
houses one day
The bird house (above) is brilliant - if I could find a 3 litre milk bottle.  The largest we have in the shops in our town are 2 litre bottles.

So, I applied myself, and have come up with the following:
My simple version of a bird feeder which
 doesn't spill seed on the ground (and
 feel the chickens or grow potential weeds!)
It is a recycled 2 litre milk bottle into which I have cut a roughly 7cm (h) X 8cm (w) hole in the middle, and two smaller holes on the front and back of the bottle in order to insert a dowel rod for the birds to stand on to access the seed in the bottle.  I didn't cut a hole either side of the bottle because, with the wind we have here, I was worried that the seed would just blow straight out the other side.

Hanging in the shade, the plastic bottle should last a good long while, but it is so easy to make, that replacing it with another empty milk bottle when it perishes will take exactly 5 minutes.

I have assured RMan that I will not be decorating all the trees on our smallholding with milk bottles - and will limit myself, and the birds, to just two bottles :D
The little overhang certainly prevents the
 rainwater from entering the bottle and the
 dowel rod works well as a food perch
When I cut out the hole I left a small lip on the top to deflect rainwater away from the seed,
The dowel rod pokes right through the bottle
 feeder - and waiting birds take advantage
 of the handy perch close to the food
Also, as I discovered, you need to silicone in both sides of the bottle by the the dowel rod - and the two holes by the neck of the bottle through which the hanging wire is threaded.  Otherwise the rainwater drips through into the seed :(
That 5-odd cms of seed storage is perfectly
 large enough to hold food for 4 - 5 days.
 But, I have even seen a bird inside the bottle
grabbing the last of the seed lol
I placed the feeder in the tree, and I lie not - within 10 minutes the birds had found it, and they haven't left since...
Queueing up impatiently - I wish you could
see / hear the squabbles when a bird - any bird
 takes too long on the dowel rod...
 ... even to the point that huge barney's happen if a bird takes too long and monopolizes the perch for too long.
Some are patient, and some
 just can't wait!

Queueing up wherever they can -
even searching for spilt seed on the
 ground will do...
I have to replenish the seed every 4 - 5 days.  That's not too much of a hassle.

And the thought that local birds go to sleep at night with full tummies makes me happy.

I just wish it was as easy to help all the undernourished, starving children go to sleep at night with a full tummy too...


  1. I love a good second life use of a plastic bottle! Maybe I will try this for the winter here. But the pesky squirrels will have a field day I think...

    1. Sol - If you use a good slippery bottle, and hang it well below the branch, then perhaps the squirrels won't be able to access the feeder?

  2. What a great idea, I will give it a go.

    1. Chickpea - I'm so glad I inspired you. Helping those hungry little critters get through the cold season is what it is all about, isn't it? After all, they help us in summer by getting rid, amongst other things, all that weed seed which is growing in our gardens ;)

  3. That is a great idea. We have Siberian Huskies and put their hair (which is a lot) in a similar bottle for the birds to collect - they love it and use it for their nests. I have a great photo of the birds lining up to collect their husky hair :)

    1. Rosemary - That sounds an excellent idea - giving to the birds and not rodents. I think I'll use that for the alpaca fleece waste - hung up in a bottle it should be out of the rodents reach ;) Thanks for the idea.

  4. If I was a bird, I'd fly in there, beat up the other birds, eat all the food, and then fall sated to the ground! If I couldn't beat them all up myself, I'd form a gang of squirrels and mice.


  5. I had quite the opposite problem. The birds used to eat up all my hens feed. No matter how I tried to camouflage it, the pesky birds found out and had, well, lots of feast days.

    1. Yvonne - Welcome, ad thank you for taking the time to leave a comment. Yeah, I have that problem too - but, helping out the "featheries" during lean times only seems fair. The majority of the chicken feed is larger than most birds can eat so I reckon that the chickens are still getting enough of their feed :)


Thank you for taking the time to comment - it makes my day and removes the "loneliness' of sitting at my screen blogging supposedly to myself ;) I try and reply as quickly as possible so please forgive me if sometimes my response is delayed.