Monday, 31 July 2017

A Mouse Problem

People tell us that we shouldn't feed the small birds in summer. They're probably right, in that there's plenty of natural food around, but we would desperately miss the parade of species which we sit and watch every day. For example, this morning a very smart male greenfinch visited us.

Whether feeding birds in summer is right or wrong, it does cause a problem which seems to be far worse this year, probably brought about by the loss of our two cats, and has occasioned the invention of a new device - in the picture, it's under the white board below the central bird table.

The problem is mice, at least two species of them, and shrews. The mice have become so brazen about stealing the birds' seed that.... times they have to queue up.

The situation has been exacerbated by the arrival of squadrons of juvenile house sparrows. They're messy eaters, throwing out any grain they don't like, particularly the wheat, to get at the ones they do like, mainly the sunflower seeds and millet. These sparrows have become so aggressive that even the resident chaffinches give way to them. They now lurk around below the feeders, picking up the sparrows' cast-offs.

The ready availability of grain has meant that the mouse population, like the house sparrow, has exploded, so the white board conceals mouse traps. It's there to hide the traps from the birds, and the mice can only get in through a small, low entrance - at left in this picture.

The traps are a brand called Little Nippers. They've been grimly effective.


  1. The mice in pictures 2 and 3 are bank voles. They chatter to each other rather like guineapigs and squeak - very endearing. You have probably heard them in the verge whilst out walking. The shrews you mention are carnivorous, looking after the balance of invertebrates in your garden including slugs and snails and will only take a little seed from below the feeders. So there's a dilemma, how to be discriminating with the trapping? Maybe you should take up position with an air rifle, sight and ID card.

  2. Derryck's right, they are bank voles, favourite food of barn owls and other predators, so not good to kill them off. Why not use a live trap instead and transport them elsewhere?