Hi Sylvia, sorry to hear that rats are a problem and stopping you feeding the birds. I would suggest suspending feeding for maybe two or three weeks to try disperse the rats elsewhere and then if you want to try again maybe fix a baffle HERE to your feeder pole which will prevent rats climbing the pole. It works well in our garden against the grey squirrels as they cannot access the food above the baffle. You are doing the right thing not having food on the ground which can encourage vermin but sad you can't enjoy feeding the birds. Hopefully in three weeks time the rats will have found alternative food source elsewhere and you can try the baffle dome idea. Good luck whatever you decide.
Thanks Hazy. It occurs to me one way I can reduce the amount of bird food that falls on the ground is to put a guardian on the feeder in which I put fat balls. That will stop the starlings. I like starlings but they make a mess!
You're welcome Sylvia; I don't get starlings in my garden so not sure if a guardian can keep them out. I do have a very good fat ball feeder which is guardian proofed version like THIS ONE The tit birds seem to love it and I also chop fat cakes in half and put them inside too. The larger birds cannot access the food so it works well for smaller species. These cages are a bit expensive and I'm not a big fan of the clip used to fasten the cage but to be honest the birds have really taken to them and I've had one cage over two years and the clip is still in one piece ! I also have the mealworm/suet type version which I add suet pellets and kibbled peanuts to. These are the first feeders the birds go to.