Working for a conservation charity specializing in birds, it’s a bit of a given that I wanted a bird feeder on the terrace. At this time of year, food is becoming hard to come by for many birds and they’ll have used much of their energy stores getting them through the colder months.
Milder weather is causing many buds to open up, but it’ll be a while before the insects get going. Providing seeds in bird feeders can be an important lifeline. Particularly in the city, where once fruit and seed producing plants have been replaced by buildings. Autumn’s spent flower displays have generally been pulled up by now and replaced by winter blooming species or plants with hardy attractive leaves. But this means the seeds and fruit which would have developed from autumn flower displays are lost. While winter blooms like pansies, primroses, and cyclamen are attractive, they aren’t terribly helpful for birds.
So I definitely wanted something to help out the birds. The trick was finding a place to hang it up. Again being on a budget I wanted to avoid buying things as much as possible. So while it is possible to buy bird feeders on stands, I decided to take things a different route. Fortunately in our move we inherited a roommate’s unwanted coat rack, which was perfect because it’s got all kinds of hooks for a bird feeder to hang from. The catch, we didn’t want to use it as a coat rack because it tips over easily. Being on a 3rd floor terrace with low sides, I definitely did not want a gust of wind carrying it over the edge and onto a car.
The solution I came up with was to attach a heavy base to the feeder, salvaged or multipurpose if possible. A bit of scouring the streets turned up a round piece of wood about the right size, though I was going to saw up some wood and nail it to the legs of the stand, which would also have worked.
The wood I managed to find is some kind of MDF or chip board, so not the most weatherproof thing in the world. While I toyed with the idea of buying weatherproofing paint, oil, or a stain of some sort (which would have run to only around £12 and would be usable elsewhere I’m sure), in the end I opted for a low tech solution of using a rubbish sac. Not attractive, but it works.
Next came attaching the base to the legs. Unfortunately the legs were a bit too thin, and the base slightly too small to be easily nailed. So instead I used twine. I tied a length around the base as though it were a gift and ribbon. Once that was secure, I tied the coat rack to the base, using the twine around the base as attachment points. Again not attractive, but it was effective.
Covering up all this mess is going to be a long term effort. I already have plans for movable screens made from planter and climbers of sweet peas, so it was an easy decision to just incorporate more sweet peas here to make the coat rack more attractive. The strings and other bits and bobs near the bottom I figure can be easily covered up by smaller potted plants.
I was still concerned about the whole thing tipping over in high winds. So I chose to use large clay pots for the sweet peas rather than plastic to add some additional stability.
We’ll see how things pan out as the year goes on.
Also hopefully some birds will actually find this brand new feeder.