Feeding on the fat balls

I have various bird feeders in the garden: a tube with nijer seeds, one with mixed seeds, another that usually has flavoured suet pellets and then the fat ball feeder. There’s also a plinth with a water dish. Now, the fat ball feeder attracts the House Sparrows (Passer domesticus) in droves (they also go for the nijer and the mixed seeds). Similarly, the Starlings (Sturnus vulgaris). Blue Tits (Cyanistes caeruleus), Great Tits (Parus major), and quite recently a Coal Tit (Periparus ater) will all peck at these agglomerations of fat and seeds.

Recently, an over-wintering pair of Blackcaps (Sylvia atricapilla) have also been dining at this feeder. The word on the wing is that Blackcaps from Eastern Europe and Germany have become disorientated en route to Iberia and Africa in the winter and fly a bit too much to the West and not enough to the South, and then finding a decent food supply in many British gardens they set up a winter home here. Interesting that this male is staring right at the camera, which I put on a tripod and operated wirelessly from indoors, well out of sight.

Meanwhile, Robins (Erithacus rubecula) tend to be ground-feeding birds, so it seems odd that they are on the fat balls too, but having watched their behaviour it seems they are not eating from the feeder, but simply breaking chunks off and then hopping on to the grass to pick up the pieces. A pair is in our garden at this very moment, doing just that.

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