I hang peanuts to help feed all ‘our’ small birds.
They are nesting now in the hedges we have planted.
Never had so many birds.
More and more species come each year as the trees and hedges become more established.
Certainly appears to be supporting this growing biodiversity.
But is it really? Perhaps this too is an illusion?
The woodpecker comes and he’s weakened the wires of the feeder.
The squirrel comes and he’s chewed a neat, ‘peanut at a time’, hole.
It worked for while.
Then the crow family, attracted by the nuts falling on the ground, piled in and tore the feeder apart.
The feeder became a spikey, sharp, hazard for all who visited it.
It spilled its contents all over the grass.
I worried about those sharp, spikey, wires.
I worried about all those whole nuts, the possibility of baby chicks choking on them, so I took it down.
As I took it apart to recycle I thought what a horrible thing it was!
And wondered, not for the first time, why I am feeding them peanuts anyway?
Beginning to see these non-natives as foreign, ‘junk’ food.
Somewhere far away, is there now a shortage of peanuts/protein? Prehaps a devastating mono-crop?
As they grow and export their produce for our simple, well intended, pleasure?
Why do I feed them? Because I love to see them all.
Because I like to think I am helping.
But do I do it for me, or for them?
Unthinking, but full of good intentions, I bought a squirrel-proof, bird-nut, feeder, through Amazon.
And a special squirrel feeder, with a flip top lid.
I set them up.
The squirrel still gets in the bird feeder.
Ignoring the ‘kinder’ alternative.
A little, wirey, red.
It is a hard time of year for them, between buds and berries.
Sometimes we see mice in there too, now they have handy shelf to stand on.
It was fun watching the smaller birds work it out.
Some were quicker than others.
It did not take any of them very long, after much tipping of heads and beady eyeing.
The squirrel box is being used by something else, at night.
A creature that uses it in a way that leaves the lid open.
So all the nuts all get wet in the rain.
The crows come and throw them all around.
So the nuts are still spilling out on the ground.
Just around the base of the squirrel feeder now.
So often we think we are helping, when, in reality, we are just adding layers of dangerous complexity, dependancy even.
And ignoring the hidden layers and layers of OIL, in the farming, manufacture, distribution and transportation of bird foods and feeders.
I wonder how many rotting foods hang in untended feeders like these? Poised to poison?
How many metal/plastic, broken feeders end up in landfill?
‘Feeders’. Dwellling on that word.
Oh well. It’s here now.
No point in not using the nuts I already have, but prehaps it’s time to look into alternatives?
Perhaps I do not need to set such ‘bait’ to lure them closer to our ‘cage’?
Ugly, isn’t it?
If I stop feeding I will just have to learn to look for them in a different way.
They will still be here!
Apparently it is only ever a small percentage of bird population that even comes to our feeding stations.
RSPB and ‘Pets At Home’ continue to insist it is important to support our garden visitors and to sell these.
I have been feeding nuts, all year, for years now.
Internet searches suggest that birds will simply seek out other feeders if you stop feeding.
I wonder if that would be true here?
Ours are the only feeders for a few miles around.
In the beginning there were few birds that came, as there was no natural cover here.
The cover I planted has now grown.
Our hillside plot now full of levels of Life.
Are they really now dependant on us?
The unmowed meadow grass-seed will harden soon.
That swathe must house a host of living foods.
So full of insects and caterpillers.
The bramble blossom buds are ripening.
We will have nuts on our young hazels this year.
And some berries will come on the hawthorn, rowan and elder.
There are so many slugs and snails. (No carrots this year. Destroyed.)
Seeing a lot more mice around the house perimeter, since loosing our beloved Sprocket dog and old, old, Bobkin cat.
This ready supply of nuts will not be helping to keep them away from our house!
Thinking about getting another terrier.
To discourage them.
(Also to keep the deer out of the garden.
The deer that ringed a few of our maturing trees this year.)
But then, of course, I will see a lot less wildlife on my walks again!
And I am still reluctant to rejoin that aspect of the ‘pet food’ industry.
Our only source of fresh bones/scraps closed down a few years ago ….
All in the Balance ……….
(Perhaps this feeder would make a nice light? It is quite well constructed!)
UPDATE: I cut off the damaged parts of the old feeders and simply made them shorter. In one I cut a neat ‘one peanut’ hole and placed it so the squirrel can stand on the ‘platform’ and pick them out. I have completely removed the squirrel box, intending to remove it’s plastic ‘window’ and convert it into a nesting box. All seem happy and there is a lot less waste this way. Those feeders now, temporarily, ‘saved’ from land fill. Playing around with a few simple designs for nut-feeders that do not use plastic. Unable to think up an alternative for the metal grill as yet.
I have seen a stunning Jay visit a few times recently. I wonder if he/she was the ‘clever’, yet destructive, visitor to the squirrel box? Seems likely. The Jay and other clever corvoids.
The sparrow hawk now, again, has free’er’ access again to his prey.
As if to reinforce my thinking, on my last visit to the dump, I spied an, almost brand new, bird-ball feeder in the skip. I fished that out.
Still unsure how to proceed. Rescuing, refurbishing feeders? Making/designing eco-feeders?
But huge problems remain, for me, in what we are feeding these, our visiting and native birds.
The whole industry of ‘bird food’.
Prehaps a simple return to feeding only our scraps on a large bird-table is the answer after all?
Simply sharing our food.
But then I must carefully consider salt and sugar, additives and mould ……
So many layers of human impact in this simple act.