Bird Feeding Tips

In many areas of the country, the birds are finally back.  If you’re trying to attract birds to your yard, we’ve got some tips! Besides information on choosing, placing and cleaning feeders, we’ve got some solutions to “squirrel” problems.   And I can vouch for all of these since I do them myself and have the most popular yard in the neighborhood.  So get ready to enjoy your new visitors.

Bird Feeders

When choosing a feeder, consider the birds you’d like to attract.  Smaller birds aren’t too fussy about the feeding area.  But larger birds like cardinals, blue jays or woodpeckers will need a post or area on which they can cling, perch or land.  And then there are birds that like to perch and others that cling.  The feeder below accommodates both.

Feeder Placement

Of course you’ll want to put your feeders in an area where you can see all the activity. But make sure they’re near areas with trees or large shrubs.  In case of unwanted visitors like hawks or cats, this will give them a place to quickly fly for cover.

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Squirrel Stopper 1

If squirrels are a problem, use a baffle if you’ve got your feeders on a pole.  This will keep (most of) them from climbing up the pole to the goodies. Sloped ones work best and you can place these lower on the pole.  Cylinder shaped baffles need to be placed high enough so that squirrels can’t jump to the top. Also avoid putting pole feeders very close to trees or under low branches. Like I said – these guys can jump!

Squirrel Stopper 2

If you prefer to hang feeders from branches, buy spring action feeders that close the seed openings when a “creature” heavier than a bird gets on the feeder.  I’ve used the Squirrel Buster brand for the past few years and they really work!  Some smart ones will learn that shaking these types of feeders will spill some seed on the ground.  But they don’t get much – just enough to make them jump off and leave the feeder alone.

Seed Part 1

You can avoid fallen seeds from sprouting by using “no-mess” blends. These have the shells removed so it’s tougher for the seeds to germinate.  These blends are also good for areas where you don’t want piles of spent shells to clean up.

Seed Part 2

Certain birds are attracted to various types of seeds.  But the seeds most birds love are sunflower seeds.  Though expensive, shelled sunflower seeds will keep the area cleaner.  And remember I said most birds like sunflower seeds?  It turns out cowbirds, those nest stealing pests, don’t care for them at all.  Neither do starlings who only eat them if there’s nothing else around.

Cleaning Feeders

Clean or move feeders monthly to slow the spread of bacteria or viruses that some birds may carry.  Empty and throw out the seed then take the feeder apart per the instructions.  A small brush is helpful in getting at crevices where seed “gunk” can collect.  Use a natural disinfectant like straight lemon juice to clean or a mix of 2 teaspoons borax, 4 tablespoons white vinegar and 3 cups of hot water. Rinse then let air dry before putting in new seed.

Moving Feeders

Moving your feeders regularly also helps in keeping the area clean and germ free.  If that’s not possible, remove the feeders and clean up fallen seed.  Then spray one of the solutions above on the ground.  Avoid spraying directly on flowers or shrubs.  Put everything back after the area is dry.
When cleaning feeders or feeder areas, wear rubber gloves and/or wash your hands thoroughly afterwards.

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by on April 4th, 2014