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I have a wire fat ball feeder which takes 4 small fat balls with a chain across the top used for hanging it up. The other day I was horrified to find that a starling had forced its way into the tube to gain access to the bottom fat ball and having done so could not escape. I was able to remove it and happily it flew away unharmed. Since then I made a circular wooden lid which is securely held in place by screws so that there is no danger of this happening again. This type of feeder is widely available (with chain for hanging it up) so be warned. It only takes a few minutes to remove the lid and refill the feeder before replacing it once more.
Just one warning about fat cakes that the RPSB does say and that is that fat cakes are not very good in Spring and early summer as the fat cakes are far too rich for the chicks. All chicks only get fed live food that time of the year but I had a fat cake up one year and the adults were taking that into the nest box which is absolutely catastrophic for the chicks, may be because there was a lack of live natural food. So I now only put out live mealworms that time of the year to help our little birds, as well as sunflower hearts of course in the usual feeders. I also got a box with a camera in it not long after and it was great fun to see the parent blue tits feeding up their chicks with what I was putting out for them - such a treat!
Yes, I have heard of problems with the fat balls. You can get small balloon shaped feeders, with wire in a spiral (thus springing apart to load it) which will hold 2-3 at a time and these are much safer for the birds.
In answer to the 'rampant veggie' not wanting to melt lard why not use vegetarien suet available at most large supermarkets then the only by product would be the cardboard box which is recyclable.
Peter asked the question regarding rats etc., but nobody has answered. I had to stop feading the birds because of this very problem. During the night a small family of rats were up and down the feeding station I had put up...all god's creatures I know, but the sight made my flesh crawl. Any answers to this problem?


I also had rats in my garden,at first i stopped feeding the birds but the sight of them looking at the empty bird table upset me so much that i decided to buy a rat trap.After several days of not catching anything i changed the bait to malt loaf and cheese and the next morning there was my rat.Not wanting to kill it,i released it in the local country park.
[...] fine to hang them with the netting. Have a little read of below..... Birds and bird feeders | Wildlife | Gardening Blog | Talk | BBC Gardeners' World You can get various hanging suet/fat feeders which are only a couple of pounds and easily [...]
I have also had a terrible experience with fat balls but of a totally different nature. I found a starling trapped ( and dead) in my spiral fat ball holder. I had taken off the mesh but as the ball got smaller and smaller this poor starling had tried to squeeze its body through the spiralled bars to get to the food. It was horrible and I will now just put the demeshed fat balls on the bird table.
I am having problems with something taking the hanging feeders off the hooks of my feding pole!! I caught a rat a few weeks ago but he was only feeding form the containers, this creature is taking the containers down and emptying them, fatballs, seeds and nuts alike. He/she isn't fussy at all. I live in rural Scotland with a woods at the back of the house.
I have had a tragic incident with a bird feeding pole this morning. It's a double shepherd's crook type of thing, with the two 'crooks' at the top, on opposite sides of the pole. Early this morning a young starling had got its leg caught between the two and was unable to free itself. But the time I saw it, it was hanging by its utterly ruined leg, still alive. I was able to free it and rush it to the vet but the leg was too damaged to be saved and I think they will have had to destroy the poor bird. As soon as I can find out the maker of this pole I will report the dreadful design flaw to them.
Further to my previous post, I just wanted to report that I traced the makers and reported the incident and the design flaw to them, and was delighted to hear back from them that they have responded to my email with an immediate redesign of the pole that will prevent any further tragic incidents.
peter maurice, gina and bygones69 - in case you haven't found a solution to your rat problem, try this. We live on a farm and rats are inevitable. We found that hanging the feeders onto a length of wire stretched between two hooks prevented the rats reaching them -they don't appear to be any good at tightrope walking! You must be careful that they aren't able to jump from anywhere to the feeder however.
Put fat cake mix into old brightly coloured mugs and hang from tall lantern hooks in the border - adds a splash of colour and encourages the birds too.
I've always been terrified of this happening too so I make my own. I find it's a lot more gratifying though because the birds seem to adore what I've lovingly made for them and it's so simple! I save all my yoghurt pots and even nick those from people at work (after they've finished with them, of course!), I've got stacks of them in the cupboard - hubby's always laughing at me because of it but I just tell him that reusing is even better than recycling! :-) Anyway, I just get a couple of packets of lard, cut them into rough cubes and melt them in my largest saucepan then just add what I have available - peanuts (crushed, of course), niger seeds, dried mealworms, sunflower seeds, plus anything else I have to hand - and spoon the lovely mixture into the pots and put them in the fridge to set. When it comes to putting them out, I just get a knife and scoop the mixture out of the pot, some of it goes on the bird table and the rest on the ground - sure, it's not pretty but then it's not there for long!
thank god for that i bought some today , great advice

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