When we get our first blast of cooler air and a cloudy sky, I’m reminded by the heavy influx of customers at our Wild Birds Unlimited in Grosse Pointe Woods that they are getting ready for their fall and winter bird feeding. With that fuel for thought, I’ve come up with some ideas to share with you for pest free and clean feeding stations.
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 your offerings. 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 the local birds as well as the migrants. 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 feeder. Choosing a quality seed is the most important factor in your feeding station. Seeds that birds don’t prefer will be tossed aside by them, ending up on the ground where they are a great food source for rodents. Check the ingredients and make sure they are what the birds want.
Keeping a tidy feeding station is good for the birds and good for you. Utilize a tray that allows you to catch any seeds that are scattered by the doves and sparrows – we are convinced they are trying to give to their brethren below! Make sure that you provide a way to clean up the area underneath the feeders. Seeds and shells that sit for prolonged periods of time will mold and harbor germs that may affect your birds. The birds themselves will cause droppings to go into the shells and seed spillage. A hardware cloth or screen placed under the feeder will allow you to pull it away, roll up and toss the mess, and wash it off before placing it back under the feeder.
Store seeds in galvanized cans inside of the garage or a shed. Keeping seed in the house may cause cereal moths to hatch, the eggs having been laid in the seed shells while the sunflower was growing in the field. Temperature is what causes this to happen, so a cool out-building is a better choice. We recommend galvanized cans as rodents are able to chew through plastic. Whether it’s the little teeth of mice or the larger teeth of squirrels, plastic is ineffective at keeping them out.
Before you fill the 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 of vinegar to ten parts water. Always rinse thoroughly before letting the feeder dry completely and filling. With a wooden feeder, follow the same steps without a prolonged soak. A good alternative to wood is the recycled plastic feeders that are now being made. The plastic does not allow organic material to grow as readily as wood does.
Feeder Fresh is an organic additive that is sprinkled into feeders that offer nyger or sunflower chips. Keeping the feeders free of mold is an obvious benefit to the birds you are feeding. It is added to the feeder when you fill it with seed.
A tidy and clean feeding station is better for the birds that visit your yard. Thanks for being responsible.
Enjoy your birds !
Wild Birds Unlimited of Grosse Pointe Woods, MI