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How I Get Birds of Prey to Feed in my Garden | A Bird Table with a Difference
Tawny owls have been bringing their young to feed at my garden bird table for years and I regularly pull up a chair in the evenings to enjoy the show as they all swoop down in front of my living room window. I’ve had up to 10 at once balancing on a branch outside the window and it really is a spectacular sight.
Feeding Predators and Prey
The atmosphere at dinnertime can be edgy
It all began with a kestrel
I decided to do what I could to help so I caught a mouse in a trap and put it out on my bird table. By the end of the day the mouse had gone. So the next day I popped another mouse out on the table. Again it disappeared. The kestrel soon became a regular visitor, sometimes arriving up to four times a day and it wasn’t long before I couldn’t catch enough mice for him.
What to feed owls & kestrels to attract them to your garden
I discovered it was possible to buy dead day-old chicks, cockerels that are a by-product of the hen-laying industry, so I decided to order some in. I also found myself picking up road-kill rabbit and pheasant to give to the kestrel. In this way I helped this kestrel survive the winter.
The following spring he brought a girlfriend along to share this regular food supply and I was absolutely delighted when they nested nearby. The kestrel became so tame that I could whistle as I put the food out for him and he would have taken it before I got back to the house. I took to tying the food onto a branch so that he stayed for long enough for me to get my camera out!
My feeding regime extended to owls
Before long I was ordering chicks by the 1000s to feed the kestrel’s expanding family, as well as a pair of tawny owls that had cottoned on to the evening service I was providing. During the late summer months the tawny owls began to bring their chicks to the table.
Keeping predator and prey apart
More than 60 species of garden birds visit my table over the course of a day and I begin each day by filling up the bird feeders and hanging fat bars. I usually serve a cocktail of wild bird seeds, which includes nyjer seeds for the goldfinches, peanuts for the blue tits, and sunflower hearts for greenfinches, tree sparrows and blue tits, and fat bars for woodpeckers and robins. I also sprinkle mealworms into a dish for dunnocks and wrens.
My bird feeding timetable
tying more chicks or mice to the same branches that the kestrel uses. At the peak of the breeding season this year I was supporting a kestrel family and a tawny pair with seven chicks. I was putting out an average of 30 to 40 chicks a day.
I also provide boxes for the owls and kestrels in my garden to nest in. For how to build the best nest box for a tawny owl, click on the link below
The birds in my garden inspire my paintings and I have an extensive collection featuring the characters I feed in my garden. Scroll down to see a selection of these.
Where to buy food for wild birds: I buy my food from Honeybrook FoodsAuthor: Robert E Fuller