Feeding the birds through the cold winter months is something we are often encouraged to do – and with good reason.

Seeing wild birds in the garden is one of life’s pleasures and, of course, by feeding them we are helping to protect the natural world.

At Christmas in particular bird feeding gifts become popular, with festive designs available and even bird food ‘wreaths’.

However, when feeding the birds it pays to consider how to avoid attracting pests into your garden, such as rats or infestations of pigeons.

The right food

Investing in the right food is important. Fat balls are a good winter option, along with mixed bird seed, meal worm and peanuts.

Many household leftovers can also be eaten by birds including bread, cheese, fruit, rice and potatoes. However, mouldy food should be kept away from birds as it can make them ill, while salt can also be toxic to them.

It’s all about presentation

The major factor in avoiding attracting pests to the garden by feeding birds is where the food is put and how much is left out. The RSPB recommends just leaving enough out for one day as any leftover food on the floor could possibly attracts rats.

In the same vein it is wise to avoid throwing food for birds on the floor as this attracts pests. Seed trays at the bottom of feeders help to stop waste being spilt on the floor while hulled seeds also cut down the possibility of food reaching the floor.

Pigeons can be problematic when it comes to feeding birds as they not only take the lion’s share of food, they also dominate the area and deter other birds. The worst scenario is that larger groups of pigeons flock to the garden causing a nuisance.

As pigeons are so much bigger than most wild birds, smaller feeders can prevent them accessing food. Hanging feeders with smaller mesh should work to prevent pigeons – just be aware of what falls on the floor and, if necessary, put a secondary measure in place.

While it is harder to keep pigeons off bird tables, using pieces of string or garden cane as a deterrent works as they do not like to feel as though they are being touched. Spacing the string/ canes out to allow smaller birds in but so that they cause an obstacle for pigeons should help to keep them away.

Don’t let the prospect of attracting pests put you off feeding the birds this winter, a bit of planning should be all it takes.

For advice on dealing with pest birds contact Total Bird Control.

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