Give the Birds a Home Away From Home

The joys of bird-watching.

Many people find listening to the calls of songbirds or watching blue jays and cardinals treat themselves to a birdbath relaxing. Even sitting on park bench and throwing crumbs of leftover food has brought joy to many. While feeding birds is considered an American industry these days, there are steps to take in order to get the most out of your bird-watching hobby.

Feeder Locations

Putting your bird feeder in an optimal position in your yard could literally save their lives. Feeders should be placed at least 15 feet from a window. Birds are not able to see glass and if they are trying to escape a nasty predator, the force of the blow against the window can kill them. Position the feeder in an area where the birds can take cover in case outdoor cats or winged predators spot them.

Feeder Types

Companies have made several different types of feeders to help cater to a bird’s eating preference. A cylindrical feeder can be placed up higher and will attract birds that can perch and grab for food. Suet feeders work great in the cold weather since they are usually high in calories. Even ground feeding will draw in birds that may not be able to hold on to perches.

An Array of Feed

The seed you choose will change what kind of birds you can expect. Use a diverse group of foods that will draw in different types of birds. Raisins will bring in Carolina wrens and thrushes; peanuts call to the blue jays, nuthatches, and cardinals. If you are looking for a variety of birds, use black-oil sunflower seeds, thistle seeds, corn, or millet.

Keep Your Birds Healthy

While it’s nice to have birds constantly at your feeder, it’s critical to clean the feeder frequently and thoroughly. Without a good clean, birds can get salmonella, trichomoniasis, aspergillosis, and avian pox. Most of these are contracted through other birds’ droppings and secretions, as well as fungus growth from seeds that get too wet. To clean your feeder, use one part white vinegar to four parts warm water. Rinse thoroughly, and let it dry completely before refilling with seeds.

Be Aware of Unwanted Visitors

Bird feeders may call out to all of your feathered friends, but it also signals unwanted acquaintances to join in. Some animals, like raccoons, will camp out in a garage or under a deck in order to stay close to food. Starlings tend to be another problem. They are aggressive and will run off the birds you are most interested in. Other uninvited guests range from deer and black bears to mice and squirrels. Keep in mind that if you spot any of these visitors, it is important to get rid of them as soon as possible in order to keep your feeders full.