Bird Feeders

Bird Feeders - Keeping Your Bird Feeders Clean Will Keep Your Birds Healthy

Backyard bird feeding has become an increasingly popular pastime in recent years. Millions of people have discovered that bird watching from your own backyard can be a very rewarding and educational experience. It is important to note that along with the joy and entertainment we humans extract from this interaction comes a responsibility to our partners in this endeavor, the birds themselves.

We must take proper precautions to keep our native birds safe while offering them a variety of foods from which to choose. Birds at backyard feeders are exposed to the risks of disease and predation. It is our duty to make sure they are safe from both by following a few simple practices.

Placing bird feeders in safe locations is your first consideration once you have made the decision to join the millions of backyard bird watchers in North America and around the world. Ground and tray feeders need to be placed in the open where birds can see predators like house cats and escape to the nearby cover of trees or bushes. Hopper or tube feeders may be hung or placed on poles with a predator guard to keep the birds safe.

If you have bird feeding stations set up for some time, you may eventually see a hawk around your feeding stations. You should enjoy these beautiful birds of prey while you are able to get an exceptional, close-up view of them. If they become a problem by hanging out at your feeders for easy meals, you can take down your bird feeders for a week or so and the hawk will most likely move on.

The second factor of vital importance and the problem most often overlooked by backyard bird watchers and bird feeders is that of disease caused by dirty bird feeders. It is important to always keep your seed dry and fresh. Store your bird seed in waterproof containers in a cool dry place. Once bird seed gets wet it can develop mold and make your birds ill.

Keep the ground under your feeders clean. Periodically sweep or rake any discarded hulls away from your feeding stations. Ground feeding birds will be tempted to feed under theses feeders where there is likely to be bird droppings mixed in with the remaining food and the chance of spreading diseases

like salmonella increases. Offering ground feeding birds a clean tray or ground feeder will reduce this risk also.

Clean all of your bird seed feeders at least once a month with a dilute bleach solution of one part bleach to nine parts water. I take my feeders apart and use my large laundry sink to thoroughly wash all the parts in warm soapy water before rinsing in the bleach bath. If you don't have a large sink, a bathtub works well for this job if you have large feeders to clean. Good quality bird feeders can be taken apart easily for cleaning.

Hummingbird feeders need to be cleaned more often than seed feeders. Hummingbird nectar or sugar water needs to be consumed or changed after five days to prevent mold or fermentation. The feeders need to be cleaned at least once a week with hot water and a brush. I rinse them thoroughly with hot water every time I refill them. You want to make sure to remove any mold or insects you see and rinse the feeder with the same dilute bleach bath, then rinse them thoroughly with clean fresh water before refilling.

This is important. NEVER use honey in a hummingbird feeder. Honey ferments easily and grows mold that can be fatal to hummingbirds. Use only nectar made for hummingbird feeders or a solution of one part granulated (white) sugar to four parts water.If you have problems with ants, bees or wasps there are a few things you can do. The best advise is to use "saucer" style hummingbird feeders. These feeders are nearly impossible for bees and wasps to feed from because the nectar level is too low for them to reach. Many of these also have built in ant "motes" to keep ants out. If insects are still a problem, try moving the feeder to a different location.

Backyard birding is relaxing and can be a lot of fun when it's done right. You will see many species of birds if you put up a good variety of bird feeders located in the right places with the proper protection. Make sure you protect your birds by keeping all those quality bird feeders clean. You will be helping future birders by allowing our native birds to breed and produce young for future generations of humans to enjoy.

Happy Birding!


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