Seen at The Festival of the Tree

...if you would be happy all your life, plant a garden - Chinese proverb

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Product Review: Everyday Bird Seed


This is the second (and final) post in the run up to this year's RSPB Garden Birdwatch (26-27th January) where I'm reviewing relevant products which you may find useful.

The birds are going mad on the feeders at the moment. It's not surprising after Friday's snow! So it's a 'thumbs up' (so to speak) from them for the Everyday bird food I'm trialling from Nottcutts. As you can see from the above picture, it's pretty similar to other bird feed mixes available on the market.

The main ingredient is wheat, followed by the black sunflower seeds, then kibbled maize, red dari (the commercial name for sorghum apparently) and white millet (reminds me of feeding my pet budgie when I was little). Vegetable oil's been added to get the calorific value up to 404 per 100g.

To be honest the birds are going for the peanut or sunflower seed only feeders first, then turning their attention to the mixed seed ones. At particularly busy times then everything on offer is popular. According to the packet, the seed mix is deemed most suitable for feeders (followed by tables and just a single star rating for ground) and is claimed to attract the widest variety of birds*.

In the past I've found quite a lot of the wheat gets missed by the birds and germinates to grow under where I have my bird feeders. To remedy this I also had a go at making some 'fat balls' by adding the feed to melted lard in a 50:50 ratio. I re-used the mince pie cases from Christmas to hold the resultant mixture, so the description 'fat ball' is rather tentative. The birds don't seem to mind though and it does seem to be reducing the amount of seed spilt. Thank goodness the chaffinches are around to hoover up what does reach the ground!

Overall verdict: the birds seem to like it, though I can't really see how this version differs that greatly from other similar mixes on the market. Therefore, it probably boils down to price and availability on whether this bird food is the choice for your bird feeders. I was going to give you details of an online discount voucher so you could try some for yourself, but I see Notcutts are revamping their website and sadly aren't taking orders at the moment. I'll put the details up on my Offers Page ready for future reference as the code is valid until June 2013.

* = listed as tits, bramblings, finches, bunting, dunnock, sparrow, linnet, nuthatch, siskin and yellowhammer. I'd say the blackbirds, thrushes, robins and pigeons round here don't turn their beaks up at it either ;)

Disclosure: I received a 1kg sample packet from Notcutts for independent review purposes.

Related Post: last week's review was of the identification guide, Birdsong.

If you're looking for guidance on how to make your garden more attractive to birds, you may also like to read my review of The Birdwatcher's Garden.

12 comments:

  1. Our birds' favourites (especially the goldfinches) is sunflower hearts followed by Golden Chorus from Haiths I quote "aromatic blend of rowan and juniper berries with a crumbly moist softfood, which is just full of 100% edible (no-mess left) goodness!" Even hedgehogs love it.

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  2. Hi Sue - yes, ours really like the sunflower hearts too. However, I've found it's good to have a less popular mix on offer as well because I don't always get around to top up the feeders in time. I'm working on the philosophy that at least there's something on offer at all times :)

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  3. Hi Michelle, I've found exactly the same. Peanuts and sunflower seeds are the most popular at the moment, but I have chaffinches, blackbirds, pigeons and squirrels scooping up any seeds that great tits and robins eject onto the ground. Sue's Golden Chorus suggestion looks great -just wish I had a hedgehog in my garden too!

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  4. I'm sticking to sunflower seeds & peanuts after my current batch of seeds run out. I find the niger seeds far to messy so wont be using in the future. Apart from the fat balls & apples & pears that we put out for the blackbirds, thrushes.

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  5. As being completely new to feeding birds I find this very interesting, I will have to try out different types of seeds and see what the birds in my garden prefer, when they arrive - they haven't discovered my feeder yet!

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  6. Hello!! Oddly enough we bought a new bird feeder from the RSPB shop at Leighton Moss over Christmas and not one peanut has been touched?? I think my garden birds have migrated! I love your post, it's very original and useful. I hope my birds come back so I can join the garden watch too!!!!

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  7. Same story on the mixed seeds v sunflower hearts here. Notcutts offered me this seed too but I had already accepted the RSPB seed so declined. Good to see you trying it. I agree mixed seeds are pretty much alike, on saying that I did genuinely find my trial seed to be my fav so far.

    I find I only ever look to mixed seed during the cold of winter when my garden gets invaded with large (50+) flocks of finches and other winter species pop in. I agree on using less popular seed for when the sunflower hearts go down too quickly too – it can be an expensive business feeding birds! On saying that, I get a lot of pleasure seeing my winter visitors :-D

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  8. Naomi - don't talk to me about squirrels - they're a real pest here :(

    awholeplotoflove - apples - yes! They're a great way of using up some of our windfalls and the blackbirds love them :)

    Helene - ours took a while to come too, but I can assure you they will come as long as your feeders are safely situated so there isn't a danger from potential predators.

    digtheoutside - I'm sure the birds will come, especially after all the snow we've had.

    Shirley - I thought your post was very interesting and very detailed (unlike mine) sadly my little point and shoot camera isn't up to the kind of video that you shared with everyone. It's not even up to stills shots of the birds, unless you like looking at small dots!

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  9. Will look out for this on my travels VP but having just read Shirl's review about the RSPB product may try that first - apparently the squirrels don't like it :) One of those dear creatures has made off with a coconut feeder this morning. Thanks for your review.

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  10. Anna - I spotted that too. Bearing in mind most of my bird feed gets eaten by squirrels, that's a very important point to bear in mind. And before someone kindly suggests using squirrel proof feeders, I've comprehensively proved they don't work :/

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  11. We spent some time being assured by a woman serving us in a shop that the bird seed mix we were buying wouldn't germinate. It was the most expensive mix but not only do the birds not like it but it is actually sprouting in the feeder which is a new one on me. I wonder if there is such a thing as a non-germinating mix?

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  12. Arabella - oh the irony! I ahven't experienced that yet, but imagine it must have looked a bit weird. Wheat seems to be the worst culprit in my garden, so I guess the less of that in the mix, the better. Sunflower and sweetcorn seeds will germinate too - but at least they can be transplanted to somewhere where they're wanted (for me anyway). I suspect that sorghum and millet won't because they like warmer climes...

    ... I have been wondering if heating the mix first might be the answer.

    I have also been looking at other seed mixes whilst out shopping today and they're very variable in their composition. Flaked oats of course won't germinate. I've also seen a similar mix to the one I've trialled with a calorie content >500 for around the same price (and many much cheaper). Much better for the birdies?

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