BBC Autumnwatch – bird feeder experiment

The Mystery Bird Quiz

All about ground feeding birds – some tips

November 16, 2015
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Ground Feeding Sparrow
EVERYONE HAS SEEN BIRDS feeding from bird feeders hanging from trees and bird tables filled with seed. However, there are plenty of birds that feed from the ground.

See all our ground feeders

Ground Feeding Birds

Song thrushes, wrens, chaffinches, dunnocks, blackbirds, house sparrows and robins are birds that mostly scour for insects and other forms of sustenance from soil.

Providing feed for these ground-feeding birds may seem unattractive or cumbersome at first due to its immediate disadvantages. However, taking the following measures will solve many problems and will prove very beneficial.

The main problem with putting feed directly onto the ground is that other animals, including squirrels, pigeons, are attracted to the feed. In contrast to the less accessible hanging bird feeders that rats cannot easily reach, bird feed on the ground allows pests easy access. To prevent squirrels, try using using a caged squirrel proof bird feeder.
Image of metal ground feeder
Johnston & Jeff Ground Feeder Sanctuary, designed to deter squirrels and large birds

Ground Feeders

LUCKILY, THERE ARE GROUND BIRD FEEDERS fitted with metal brackets to deter larger birds and squirrels to allow your little birds to feed in peace. Additionally, metal-fitted ground bird feeders deter predators such as cats, owls and weasels from preying on your smaller feathered friends. If you live in an area where pet cats roam around, ground feeders give your unsuspecting garden birds safety when feeding. Otherwise, make sure to place ground bird feeders without metal fittings away from trees, vegetation and fences to avoid predators.


MAKE SURE ONLY TO PROVIDE high quality bird food to your ground-feeding birds. This will prevent pests and unwanted weeds popping up in your garden. Most bird feed can be fed on ground feeders, but avoid feeding seeds still in their husks, such as black sunflower seeds. The husk is not readily degradable by the soil and can lead to bacterial growth, preventing other plants from flourishing.

Metal ground feeders are excellent as their height can be adjusted, making it harder for to rats to access the feed inside. They will also prevent growth on the soil below. Remember to move around the feeder from time to time to prevent disease and bacteria from developing and potentially infecting your garden birds.
Image of metal ground feeder
Wildlife World Archway Ground Feeder, solid surface for ground feeding birds

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  1. More photos of my design ‘Sorry Woody, Maggie and Roland’ feeds Blackbirds, Robins, Starlings’ Sparrows. Rough and ready design cost me less than £1 as all scrap bits and pieces

  2. I believe that this is the answer to the problems. This was a rough feasibility study made from scrap material and put together very quickly. Photo 1 shows a starling feeding and a blackbird waiting. Sorry it long range so you may have to zoom in. I claim the following.Feeds ground feeding birds however NOT Woodpigeons, Magpies, crows. In addition ,there is no scatter as it is a diner rather than a feeding station therefore no indirect feeding to any birds, squirrels, rats or even your dog!. I have now moved this prototype onto a 4foot high post and made it squirrel proof by adding a slinky. I don’t get squirrels in my garden so unproven.

  3. Thank you Sanjeev, for your comments. Send us pituercs of the bird-feeder that you and your kids have made and we will include it on our Web site.