Let’s talk about the importance of cleaning your bird feeder At Wild Birds Unlimited, of Grosse Pointe Woods, Michigan, we know with the change to cooler temperatures, many people will be getting their yard ready for fall and winter wild bird feeding. At Wild Birds Unlimited of Grosse Pointe Woods, we can help you review your feeding strategy in order to get the most enjoyment from the hobby of bird feeding.
Good, quality seeds are the staple of any feeding station in the colder months. Once natural seeds have been depleted, birds will look to supplement their diet with the bird seed at your feeders. The most favored seed is the black oil sunflower, favored by more birds than any other seed. Using sunflower as the main seed in a blend and adding other favored seeds such as safflower and white proso millet will bring in all of the resident birds. Birds that perch while they eat prefer the sunflower and safflower, whereas the ground feeding birds prefer the millet that falls to the ground from the bird feeder.
Before you fill your wild bird feeder, make sure that it has been cleaned and sterilized. A good soak in some warm water will loosen all of the dirt that builds up in most tube feeders. The soft bristles of feeder brushes allow you to scrub without scratching the feeders. To sterilize, add one part vinegar or bleach to ten parts water and let the feeder soak for at least ten minutes. Always rinse thoroughly before letting the feeder dry completely and filling. With a wooden feeder, follow the same steps without a prolonged soak.
Make sure that the placement of your bird feeders allows birds to fly to cover in the form of bushes or evergreens in the event that a cat or a hawk pursues them. If you use a number of bird feeders, it is a good idea to keep some distance in between them so that the birds are not competing with each other for space. Offering seeds at a lower level for the ground feeding birds by using a platform feeder will give those birds their own space as well as keeping the seed dry. Thistle, or nyger, is the seed of choice for American Goldfinches and other winter finch visitors. Suet is the favored bird feeding station delicacy if you are trying to satisfy woodpeckers, chickadees and nuthatches. This high fat food goes a long way in keeping birds fueled with the energy that they need. In the colder months, birds don’t necessarily need different foods; they just need more of it! Don’t be surprised to see your feeders empty more rapidly in response to the dip in temperature.
Water is a necessity for birds all through the year and winter is no exception. Heaters can be added to existing baths or, complete baths with a heater built in can be purchased. And then, there is always the daily ritual of taking the hot water out each day and replacing the frozen water with this new source! Whichever you use, your birds will appreciate this necessity of life being provided to them.
One of the most forgotten elements of a favorable winter habitat is shelter. When the temperature drops and the wind increases, birds need shelter more than anything. Evergreens can provide this element but if your yard lacks them, consider adding a winter roost box or a birdhouse. I was delighted to learn that this years’ fledged downy woodpecker has been using a birdhouse that I placed in my yard. Every night at the same time, he lands on the roof and looks around, and once “The coast is clear”; he enters the house for shelter through the night. There are roost boxes that can be placed within the yard to provide shelter for a number of birds at one time. Sharing body heat, the chance of survival increases for those birds that roost together.
From your point of view, the placement of bird feeders is all about your point of view. If you situate them where you can’t enjoy them, bird feeding will become a chore as opposed to a hobby for you to enjoy. Ask yourself where in your home you are most likely to sit and watch the birds. Don’t rule out the side or front yards if they are where you find yourself looking out the window. A small window bird feeder added to the kitchen is another way to enhance the hobby for your enjoyment. Feel good about yourself for providing for these fragile creatures during this time of challenge for them.
Enjoy your birds!
Owner of Wild Birds Unlimited, Grosse Pointe Woods
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