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Building a dog crate feeding station

Sometimes a feeding station can become dominated by larger species, such as wood pigeons, jackdaws, crows and magpies, not to mention squirrels. Weighted bird feeders can be an option as these will close ports when larger birds land. Caged feeders can also help.

Over the last decade, I have tried all sorts of methods, especially in positions where I have a camera and want to film the smaller birds, such as the tits and the finches. One method that has worked well, is to use a cheap dog crate. These can often be found, 2nd-hand on Facebook Marketplace, Ebay or similar. Many people also have crates in the garage from early puppy days. I like the idea of re-purposing or using 2nd-hand ones rather than buying new.

These crates are a perfect size to hang feeders. Many come with a sliding plastic base that can easily be removed and cleaned. The bar spacing means that, in general, they prevent larger species accessing the feeding station. Smaller starlings can often get in, along with the tits and finches. Larger species such as pigeons and corvids cannot get in. Sadly, neither can the blackbirds or the great spotted woodpecker. Feeders placed towards the edge can ensure that they can feed from the outside.

I have used a crate on the ground, but they work best raised up off the ground. I have had them on a garden bench, but generally, I make a raised base for them. The current crate feeder at Yew View is mounted on 4 posts, banged into the ground with a couple of horizontals, on which the crate is fixed.

This crate has slightly larger gaps at the base and the plastic base was wrecked by a squirrel. I replaced the plastic base with a sheet of perforated metal. I also added battons around the edge as the gaps were larger here too. I have also create wooden bases, in the past, to prevent squirrels accessing the space. I have also used chicken wire on slightly larger gaps around the door. It will take experimentation, depending on which crate you are using. I often add a perspex roof, allowing light inside for my camera and protecting the contents from getting too wet.

These images show the Yew View current set-up. This is a medium dog crate with two openings. Some of the smaller ones have just one opening.

We have multiple feeding stations at Yew View and this is the only caged one. The species that cannot access this space have plenty of other spaces to feed, so I do not feel that I am denying these species the chance to feed, but rather creating a space for the smaller birds to feed without being scared off by the larger ones. It also allows me to use feeders that I cannot usually use, as they would be destroyed by the squirrels.

This camera live streams on my website and it has been a popular feeding station, often very busy with lots of great tits, blue tits, long-tailed tits, robins as well as greenfinch and goldfinch. The great-spotted woodpecker is feeding from the outside as it can reach the fat balls.

If you do have a go at using a dog crate, do share your results with me! I love to see how other people make this work for them!


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