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04/05/2012 at 19:32

There is a large rookery at this end of the village.  The noise of them nesting I can (just about) cope with, but they raid the bird feeders.  They cannot perch on the seed feeders, but they try, flap wildly and do their best to break them.  Or at least to tip seed onto the ground.

I daren't put anything out for the ground feeding birds, since a swarm of rooks/crows (a veritable "murder" of the wretched things) will swoop down and take everything.

They deter the smaller birds, and with the yearly growth of the ever-increasing rookery, the numbers of smaller songbirds have diminished.

Any advice?

04/05/2012 at 20:49

I think one of these would help http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IOyUAtbzdNI.  Or look at the ones on this site http://www.streetendfeeds.co.uk/product.asp?catid=31, and as for the ground feeders, scroll down to the bottom of the second link and there are cages to protect ground feeding birds from bigger birds and predators.  Rooks are very intelligent, and once they learn they can't get anything from your garden, they'll move on to another.

Good luck. 

04/05/2012 at 20:58

I had thought of these feeder-guards more for squirrel deterrence - but had overlooked the idea that they could also deter the *!^"*: rooks!  Off to GC tomorrow to rook-proof my bird feeders.

Many thanks for advice.

05/05/2012 at 11:39

hello, surely if they're that much of a menace, you should complain to the local council about them, unless they're a protected species that is.

anyway, it wouldn't hurt to send an e-mail just to see what response you get.

i have a similar problem with Jackdaws and Magpies. The man next door lets the Jackdaws nest in his chimney (he hasn't had it blocked like ours) and although we do see smaller birds, they don't come into my garden because of these other terratorial birds, so i cannot leave any feeders out for the ones that need our help.

shazza  

05/05/2012 at 11:49

Hi Shazza - as it happens, I am a Parish Councillor, and I did raise this as an issue.  Corvids (rooks & crows etc) are partly protected, unless a case can be made to restrain their numbers,  But when a resident tried to do this, there was a huge outcry from all the bunny-huggers, and nothing came of it.

Personally, I think the numbers are getting out of control.  I wouldn't eliminate them, but I would favour culling them to reduce them;  it would seem that voices like mine are drowned out by others.

So - I am off to the local shops to look at the cage protection systems, which may have some effect - hopefully before the little birds are intimidated away for ever.

OH has also resurrected a heron scarer (makes a barking sound when a large object crosses its path) so maybe we'll crack this one!

Thanks for your input.

07/05/2012 at 15:48

Hi - I really sympathise with you.  I have a small garden which I have set up for wildlife with several bird feeders dotted around.  Until recently I was successfully attracting a wide variety of tits, finches and other smaller birds and the garden was an absolute pleasure.  Unfortunately, a huge flock of starlings has now found my garden and they have absolutely ruined it.  Whatever food I put out is gone within minutes - what used to last the smaller birds a day, or even a week, lasts less than 30 minutes once the starlings find it.  The starlings bully the smaller birds and prevent them from feeding and the smaller birds no longer visit as frequently.  I have tried 'clinger only' feeders but the starlings just stand on top of them.  My garden is constantly covered in starling faeces now as well.  Apparently starlings are 'endangered' but they certainly aren't around my area!  I am at the point where it feels like my only way forward is to have to stop feeding all of the birds, which is such a shame considering all the time and effort I've put into setting up my wildlife garden

07/05/2012 at 16:13

Somehow we, as humans, have to decide whether we control nature - in which case we're doing a poor job of it - or that we're part of it, in which case we have to accept the fluctuations of animal and plant populations. If we put out food for birds, nature cannot know that we have mental lists of acceptable and undesirable birds. You must expect any species that can benefit from your largesse

Rookeries come and go: one near us is currently very sparsely populated. compared to five years ago, but was similar in about 1990.

Violet, I don't think it helps the perceived problem by referring to people with a different view from yourself as 'bunnyhuggers', which immediately characterises them as a silly and inferior sub-species.

Joe

07/05/2012 at 16:24

I got squirrel cages to keep the larger birds off our feeders, and it helps.  I have crows, magpies, starlings and jackdaws (which nest in my chimney... but I wouldn't say I "let" them) and it keeps all of them out of the feeders.  They take food from the bird table, leaving the little birds in peace.  BTW, my neighbour also has squirrel cages, but the starlings get in to hers, so choose carefully

07/05/2012 at 16:25

Fair point Joe - but my description was quite mild in comparison with what some of the villagers say in somewhat more earthy language!

Those most affected by the rookery have tried to have a measure of control - and have failed because of the loud voices of those unaffected.  It is very easy to have a "nature must take its course" opinion when one's life is not personally compromised - but I am irritated by the rooks;  there are many whose life has been made a misery by the rookery, the noise and the mess.  They dread nesting time each spring. 

I do understand both sides of the argument, but there are many to whom I agree I referred somewhat disparagingly, who fail to see any point other than their own.  That was the point I made.  Clumsily.

08/05/2012 at 14:09

Joe, your response seems unnecessarily confrontational - I am a fully fledged 'bunny hugger' myself - I volunteer at a local wildlife centre, my garden is a 'nectar bar' for insects, I feed a large array of birds, squirrels and hedgehogs, and I am a member of and regularly donate to various conservation charities including the RSPB.  It is exactly because of this that it is distressing for me to have the invasion of a single voracious species who then decimates the previous natural habitat and displaces all the other wildlife, not to mention making things unpleasant for me too with all the extra noise and mess.  It is the equivalent to having Japanese knot weed invade your garden.  We are just looking for practical advice and some empathy here...

08/05/2012 at 14:22

Lunarz - I, too, try to encourage wildlife into the garden: bug boxes for the winter, nesting boxes (sadly unused this year) for the small birds, ivy retained for insects and small birds (wrens especially like the habitat) and careful selection of plants to provide as much nectar/pollen as possible (single-flowered rather than double-flowered for example). 

The corvids are very useful - they clear the roads of the inevitable roadkill, and in sensible numbers are simply part of the balanced ecology.  Likewise raptors that prey on small mammals -  even the sparrow-hawk which, I am assured by the RSPB, is a good indicator of plentiful small birds.  Inicidentally, I haven't seen one of those for some time - so fewer small birds have had an effect there, too.

I don't get great numbers of starlings, though I know they can be bullies at the bird table.  Just a case of balance really.

btw I have had few rather cross rooks today 'cos they are finding it more difficult to get at the bird feeders.  round 1 to me and the little birds

08/05/2012 at 18:41

this was a problem for me.. i feed the birds and they are a damn pain.. firs teh squirrel ones dont work..they get round it.. they would hook mine of the branch to drop it to ground..

then i was told to stick some black feathers in a cork or something and hang it from the tree.. they think it a dead bird and wont come near.. well it works. took some time to gather them but it works..

i have starling.. 2nd generation.. they loved suet pellets.. so i just fill one feeder up with them for them and they leave rest alone.. i get sparrow hawk.. as in my avatar. a pair alwasy after my birds they are.. normally get them too.

08/05/2012 at 18:43

lunarz.. i find that strange about starling.. they do not eat seed at mine.. just suet pellets.. they dont go for anything else and otehr birds dont mind them..

09/05/2012 at 08:49

Lunarz,

Sorry if you interpret my comment as confrontational, but if you keep your eye on the wider medIa and listen to the less empathic commentators and members of the general public, you will see that 'bunnyhugger' is used with great glee by people who have no concept of the importance of wildlife and would be quite happy to see all wild creatures become roadkill and the inevitable sacrifice in the name of 'progress'.

So the word irritates hell out of me and a lot of others who try to fly the flag for wildlife.

Joe

09/05/2012 at 15:33

Hi Shrinking Violet. If you are thinking of coming to Tiverton (it was you wasn't it?) ,we get a number of rooks, jackdaws, and the best of all seagulls. We have or did have hundreds of ducks in Tivvy, as we live so close to the river. Our first year one family brought 11 babes in, she and her 2 reliable male ducks. It was lovely, so I thought. So I put out 2 large pot bottoms full of water so they could swim in them. We blocked off the pond, as they brought leeches in which have affected the fish etc. and ate all the plant life we had. But night after night she seemed to come back with less and less ducklings. It upset me so much when eventually she returned one day with none. So now I am afraid I have to discourage them. I am just too soft. As my twitcher brother points out, the rooks etc will be aerating the lawn for you when eating they then look for the leather jackets and bugs in the grass.

09/05/2012 at 17:30

Hello Janet - yes, 'twas me that hopes to move Tiverton way.  Mind you, the housing market is just so dead atm I could still be here this time next year!

Being close to the coast, we, too get gulls - and I'm always surprised at just how big they are close up.  So I guess I'll feel right at home, what the the rooks and all.  But ducks - well, haven't had too many of those in the garden.  We do get a heron from time to time (at one time s/he nicked half of the fish from the pond).  Rooks eating leather jackets - useful (tho' I thought that was usually starlings.  Oh, well, Lunarz must have a superb lawn clear of leatherjackets ).

10/05/2012 at 08:19

I get rooks (there's a noisy rookery close by) and jackdaws who amaze me with their cleverness, flocks of starlings who clear the leatherjackets from the lawn, a sparrowhawk whose flying skills are jaw-dropping.  The occasional squirrel, cheeky and acrobatic, ditto a rat who is attracted to the same things the mice, voles and hedgehogs are.  Huge fat wood pigeons and masses of collared doves, of which I can't find anything to praise but they're part of the garden ecosystem (it is generally collared dove feathers I find in a huge pile in the grass).  Oh, and a few neighbourhood cats!

I've stopped putting anything that contains suet pellets in the feeders as the starlings chuck everything out but the pellets and empty the feeders in no time.  The mix with the pellets goes out in small quantities on the table and I top it up throughout the day.  I shoo the pigeons off whenever I catch them over-feeding their faces but they have young to feed too so I'm not over zealous.

We have created an unnatural environment and we need to tolerate 'the wrong kinds of birds' or stop feeding them all together.

10/05/2012 at 08:29
After two incidents of rats in my garden, I took the Pest Control man's advice and stopped putting food out for the birds on a regular basis. I did feel mean, but haven't noticed any difference in the amount or variety of birds that visit and nest here. I do leave a lot of seed heads etc for them, and if it is very bleak in the winter I put out a couple of fat balls. Oh, and no more rats!
10/05/2012 at 11:28

yes we get rats.. due to railway line at botom of garden.. so i do not put anything out on floor or table.. as theyget it..saw one once trying to get on bird feeder but gave up.. we use air rifle on them.. (yes we checked we are allowed)as we had influx 2 year ago and they were everywhere.. rat man told us to just use  poison as we had so many.. he came back and fourth for 3 months..but i hat that as you cant find where they go and die.. at least out way we can dispose of them properly.

i know the starling s feed on suet like pigs at a trough.. but the other birds love them too. robins, blackbird.. sparrows, chaffinchs and thrush when scraps drop to ground.. but the seagull hoovers up any mess so not much left for anyone else..

13/05/2012 at 16:51

Thanks everyone for the advice, espeically about the suet - I have now put a couple of brackets on the wall and mounted a seed tray on there full of suet pellets and the starlings are definitely favouring that, which has meant that I have had a return of some of the goldfinch and green finch to the seed feeders, which is great  I have also hung a large suet ball feeder at the back of the garden which is also diverting the starlings.  As gardeningfantic says, the robins, blackbirds and sparrows are also loving the suet pellets, which again stops them using the seed feeders as much - the blackbirds can be terrors when they decide that a seed feeder is 'theirs'.  I am also sprinkling some dried mealworms around the floor every now and then, which are gone in minutes - than goodness for cheap, bulk buying on eBay!  Even though the starlings are annoying, I must admit that watching them bring their babies to feed in my garden is still a lovely sight

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