Saturday, 22 November 2014

Back to gardenwatch basics – The Bird Table

Where, oh where, have all the garden birds gone? In reality they probably haven’t gone anywhere. It’s more than likely they have been hiding in the undergrowth and among shrubs and trees in or nearby your garden. This is the fun upside to plants dying down and leaves falling from trees at this time of year – we get better views of visiting birds. I do look forward to spotting them scurrying and darting around again :-)

Lurking alongside the Christmas displays at Garden Centres just now, you will be spotting bird table displays as a possible gift to ourselves or for others (great idea btw). The reality is that birds do appreciate tables and feeders stocked with food being available all year round, especially during their busiest time of year (the breeding season) when you might not spot visits until they bring in their noisy, newly fledged young.

Due to their height, as with tall plants, bird tables can make a bit of a statement in the garden. It can be appreciated that not all gardens have the space and not all gardeners have the desire for a bird table in the design they have created. Pre gardenwatching I might have been in the later camp but not now. Winter visitors of passing Blackcaps have been my bird table highlight so far but the usual suspects entertain all year round!

Following the garden advice of right plant, right place the right location needs to be found for a bird table too. If you have put out a new bird table and are disappointed by lack of visitors, the RSPB give the following advice:

“A quiet location with a good view from the house is normally the best place for a bird table. This allows you to enjoy observing the garden birds while they feed with little disturbance.

Choose a site sheltered from extremes of weather, but where the birds have a good all-round view, so they can see that they are safe from predators while they feed.

The table should be safely away from cat ambush sites. A small bush or a tree about two metres from the table gives the birds somewhere safe to perch while they look to see if it is safe to feed, to ‘queue up’ for a place on the table, and to dash to if disturbed. It may take a few days before you see any birds on a new bird table.

Once the birds discover the food and convince themselves it is safe, they should visit regularly.”
Sitting a bird table by the RSPB


I’ve had a pretty special, garden feature of a bird table in my garden for almost a year now. I offered to review it as I thought it would look great during the dull winter months – but would I keep it in the same location over the summer?

Agreeing with the last point in the RSPB advice above, I was nervous about the idea of moving my bird table when the birds seemed happy to use it where it was. However, during the summer months more walking access was required to the right of the bird table going to my greenhouse and potting shed.


Both the birds and I have been happy! My bird table has blended beautifully into my summer garden at the same location as in winter with only just a couple of simple tweaks. The angle of the table was turned round (RH image below) to bring the base further into the basket border. Another brick was placed in the border to protect the base foot.

Changing the shape and colour of the pots decorating the base of my bird table was next. The border planting addition of the shrub Euonymus gave me my garden design fix too, adding light in a shady area and complimenting the colour of the bird table at the same time.

As it grows, the Euonymus will scramble over the table base and up the planting basket becoming a pretty feature for my eye and a safety feature of ground cover for birds like the Dunnocks that scurry along the ground. I do enjoy the fun challenge of tiny garden make-overs don't you?





Being a plantswoman at heart, I have to admit to being a tad worried about the possible competition my colourful table could give the colours of my spring and summer flowering plants. Many are quite special to me like the blue Meconopsis poppy.

Silly me… there was no competition… the bird table stepped back gracefully when the Meconopsis opened its delicate, stunning blue blooms in the early morning sunshine :-)






Meanwhile, stepping forward with confidence and winning the competition on the bird table, a lot of the time, have been Wood Pigeons. They appear to have increased in numbers with visiting the wildlife pond this year. Up on the peanut feeders Jackdaws are regular visitors now resulting in less peanuts going past their best which is a good thing!

House sparrows and other small birds still manage to feed at the bird table, peanut feeders, and fat cakes that are attracting the bigger birds so no real worries there. Captured on film at the wildlife pond have been small groups of Magpies - more new regulars for 2014. It has been a busy garden this year :-)




The final video screen grab above shows a young 'innocent' looking Magpie discovering the bird table buffet. They are smart birds right enough – more on their antics another time! However, it isn't all good news with the Jackdaws and Magpies. One or the other has been up to mischief :-(

Recommending the addition of a bird table to a garden is easy – definitely! Seeing birds choose to land and feed there is such a privilege to see. Recommending the brightly coloured, stylish Buttermere bird table as a purchase or gift is easy too – yes, I have loved mine! (Please note that the links to this bird table in my review blog are broken at present. I am unsure if this product is still available or the website is being redesigned).


Views of smaller birds feeding can be seen in a previous wordless Wednesday post as can my original review of the buttermere bird table.

Update since posting: Enhanced views from the bird table can be enjoyed if a small camera is added in the roof - see MIDMARSH JOTTINGS video footage posted yesterday :-)


Copyright: Original post published on http://blog.shirlsgardenwatch.co.uk/ by blog author Shirley, November 22nd 2014.

7 comments:

ADRIAN said...

That is a superb bird table. I just have the B&Q one. It does the job.

Sue Garrett said...

Martyn made our bird tables as we felt that the ones for sale had too small a feeding area and also the roof was too low, One of ours is within touching distance of the house but the birds don't seem to mind ans we have good close-up viewing.

We've only ever spotted a lone female blackcap in our garden,

Lisa at Greenbow said...

You have the perfect spot for such a bird table. I am afraid that I don't have a spot where one could sit without being anchored well to the ground. Winds here would blow them over. The wind can even blow over my umbrella when it is down and well anchored. It is fun to see the birds that you have visiting your feeding area. I am green with envy that you can grow those blue poppies. They are a dream flower for me. Our area is too hot and dry for them.

Shirley said...

Hello everyone, thanks for all your comments :-) This post has been sitting in draft for ages, after some editing I'm delighted to get it published. There are a few garden tales to tell from this year :-)

Adrian, it is easy on the eye that’s for sure. Great to hear – most bird tables will do a good job and the birds will appreciate them all. I’ve another two tucked away deliberately quite low – more on the recent one another day :-)

Sue, that’s great to hear - I do believe I remember you saying that. I’d like to aspire to making my own one day too. Currently my potting shed is getting lighting and a power socket, add that to some tools I got this past birthday and I could have a new creative work space! Mine is close to my kitchen window also – it makes good viewing too. We've seen a male and female blackcap only once together – they do seem to be solitary. It’s been a few years now and our table visit was to a hidden table that had a fat cake slice on a tray. It was a regular for a week or so before it carried on with its winter travels :-)

Lisa, it seems to be. I was worried it was too close to my windows and they birds would be too timid but it has worked well here. Ah… being taller than my previous table I was concerned about this one getting caught with the wind and that’s another reason it has been sighted where it is and has ceramic pots at its base. It has braced quite a few strong winds well – that’s a shame a bird table is out of the question for you. I am especially delighted to share our birds with you just as I love seeing your Indiana garden visitors. Ah… I can’t believe how long my poppy has been with me now (wish I had taken a note of when I collected from the display at the end of Garden Show sale). I truly know how lucky a gardener I am to have it happy in my garden :-))))

Anna said...

Oh that's a most attractive design Shirl and the colour is subtle and pleasing to the eye. You had no need to worry about diverting attention from that clump of meconopsis :)

Shirley said...

Anna, hello again :-) it is a pleasing colour and design isn’t it. Yep… that Meconopsis will always wow!

Midmarsh John said...

A very smart looking birdy breakfast bar. I do like the slate roof. Can't think I have ever seen any coloured ones in local garden centres.

Thanks for the mention and link.