How do i just feed the small birds?

Q. Last winter and spring we got a lot of enjoyment from the bird feeders I put up for the smaller birds in our garden. Unfortunately, I have had to take them down as they are messy eaters and throw the food everywhere.

Not only were my flower beds being trampled by the lumbering Woodpigeons searching for the food but, more importantly, the dropped seeds also attracted rats. Can you please advise how to feed these smaller birds without attracting unwanted visitors?
Valerie Griffin

A. Birds are indeed messy feeders, and problems like yours can be common, unfortunately. Even “no mess” feeders and seed aren’t a complete solution, although they can sometimes reduce the mess. One of the easiest solutions is to move your feeders to a paved area if possible, or to place some form of paving on the ground beneath the feeders.

It won’t stop the seed scattering, but it will make it easier to clean up any mess, which should hopefully discourage the rats and stop the pigeons trampling plants. Removing the excess food in this way will also help prevent sickness in the birds you do want to feed, as will making sure that you clean all your feeders regularly.