There are feeders that hang from it as well, for peanuts, fat balls, and seeds that I mix with mealworms. We get a good variety of birds, mostly tits... blue, great , and long-tailed, but also sparrows, the robin, dunnocks, thrush, blackbirds, goldfinch, nut hatch, doves, the local jackdaw colony, and the other day a pheasant.
The little cat habitually sits in her box outside the back door and watches them, it is just too far to take them by surprise, but the other morning the pheasant was surprised by me opening the door for the cat, and took off with a lot of loud calling and clattering of wings. The cat shot back into the house between my legs.
We had regular visits from a pheasant during the summer, but that one was half tame and would simply maintain a distance of about ten feet from me if I was in the garden. He and the cat had eyed each other up and obviously decided ‘It’s not worth it’ as they then each managed to pretend, very successfully, that the other did not exist. One could tell it was a pretence by the exact, diplomatic, distance maintained between them.
Other visitors are the barred woodpeckers, male and female. I have a small pair of brass opera glasses that I bought years ago in a boot sale and keep on the kitchen windowsill, for watching. I was a bit puzzled as the male woodpecker kept going from the hanging peanuts to the spile and pecking at the deep cracks in it, I had often seen tits investigating them for spiders and insects, but they never had much joy, too dense a bird population, why did he keep returning to the same place?
After bit of close observation I realised the peanuts were slipping out of the holder, but were still too big for him to manage. He was taking them out and jamming them in the crack, where they were held and he could hammer at them. That is really clever, that is tool use; I have watched humans trying to manipulate stuff that needed holding still, and getting in a mess for not having thought of it. Birdbrain?
I notice Microsoft flags up ‘spile’, it is a common word in these parts for a heavy stake, usually chestnut. Sweet chestnut is grown in coppice woods for various uses, fencing, charcoal, etc., but at twelve years old they provide hop poles. Maybe eighteen to twenty foot long poles that support the strings the hops grow up. When the bit in the ground rots the shortened poles are sold off, and my spile is a section cut from one of these.