Feeders for small birds

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      How do I stop big birds eating all my bird food?

      In some gardens bigger birds like pigeons, magpies, jackdaws and crows can quickly eat all your bird food, before the smaller birds have had a proper chance to feed. By restricting access to your bird feeders or making them awkward for bigger birds, you can help enable the smaller birds to enjoy your bird food. Trying different foods can also see less interest from the bigger birds - check our FAQ section below for specific tips.

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      FAQs about feeding small birds

      How to feed blackbirds but not pigeons

      What is the best magpie deterrent?

      Are there endangered small birds I should provide for?


      How to feed blackbirds but not pigeons

      Blackbirds are tricky as they’re bigger than many of the smaller birds we love to see in our gardens. Blackbirds are unlikely to feed from hanging feeders, preferring the ground or sometimes bird tables instead. Pigeons also feed on the ground and at tables so the birds can often be in competition for food that you put out.

      Feeders for blackbirds to try:

      • You can try pairing our Adjustable ground feeding sanctuary with a ground feeder such as the RSPB Mesh ground bird feeder. You may have to experiment with the food you place inside, and/or the size of the gaps in the sanctuary.
      • You can also try our bestselling Adjus-table bird table to encourage smaller birds. Blackbirds in my garden happily feed from this when it is set to the medium height setting, whilst pigeons, magpies and jackdaws can’t land successfully enough to pick up food from the table.

      Food for blackbirds to try:

      You can try feeding dried or live mealworms as blackbirds love these. They also like fruit so it may be worth trying our berry nibbles (fruity suet pellets).

      Bear in mind:

      There is no easy solution and what works for some gardens doesn’t work for others, but certainly our customers have seen success in feeding blackbirds not pigeons using our adjustable ground feeding sanctuary. You could alternatively try positioning your ground feeder underneath a dense bush, where sparrows and blackbirds are more likely to feed than pigeons. Remember, some birds are quick to find new food sources and get used to new feeders but some birds can take weeks!

      What is the best magpie deterrent?

      Magpies are quite big birds and extremely clever and adaptable. They’re entertaining to watch but if you’re having trouble with them eating all your bird food or damaging bird feeders you can buy solutions from RSPB Shop.

      Feeders and accessories to deter magpies:

      • Try pairing a sturdy feeder (see RSPB Ultimate easy-clean feeders above) with a guardian. The gaps in the guardian aren’t big enough for magpies to reach through to the food in the feeder, and the sturdiness of the feeder will resist any potential damage from the end of magpies’ beaks.
      • The RSPB Adjus-table bird table is also popular to deter magpies.

      Magpies can be your friend though as they will eat harmful insects and rodents.

      Are there endangered small birds I should feed?

      Encouraging a diverse range of birds and wildlife in your garden is a brilliant way of supporting nature. There are more than 40 million fewer birds today than there were forty years ago. Each year in January the RSPB runs Big Garden Birdwatch. The results can indicate changes in small bird populations in our gardens. Learn more at www.rspb.org.uk.