Feeding Wild Birds In Your Garden
Table of Contents
Feeding Wild Birds In Your Garden
If you are interested in feeding wild birds in your garden, you should think about the area in which you live. For example, in the winter time, you will often see a cardinal at a sunflower bird feeder if you live in Virginia. However, if you live in Massachusetts, you are more likely to see a goldfinch at a thistle bird feeder. On the other hand, if you live in Southern California, you will probably see hummingbirds feeding on nectar. In other areas, you may see orioles.
Be sure to get a bird field identification book to help you find the names for the birds you’re most likely to see in your area. So, the first step is always to determine which birds are native to your area.
Bird Feeder Selection
In the winter time, when there is a lot of snow and ice, you might feel like throwing a few handfuls of seed out the window. But remember, it is better for birds to eat from a feeding station than directly from the ground. No matter the season, if you drop food on the ground it will soon spoil because of moisture, mold, bacteria fertilizers and pesticides. Feeding wild birds in your garden always means thinking of safety first. It is not hard to make a simple platform feeder. Just start with a piece of’ wood raised a few inches off the ground. Drill some drainage holes, and you’ve made a quick platform feeder. The birds will find it in no time!
Bird Feeder Placement
There are several factors that you should consider after you’ve decided feeding wild birds in your garden. For example, you`ll need to decide where you`ll want to watch the birds. This could be from your kitchen window in front of a sliding glass door or it could be from a second-story window. If you do place your feeder near a window, make sure it is far enough away from the glass to avoid accidental collisions!
Whatever location you choose, make sure it is easy to get to. When the weather is bad, and there is snow or ice outside, you may think twice if you need to maintain a feeder that is not easy to reach. Also, remember that there will always be debris, like discarded shells and seeds, to pick up. Therefore, you should choose an area that will make it easy to clean your feeder.
Dealing With Squirrels When Feeding Wild Birds In Your Garden
Place your feeder well out of reach of squirrels. These creatures can become problematic when the claim a bird feeder as their own. Squirrels will scare the birds away and toss seeds all over the place. They have even been known to gnaw right through plastic or wooden feeders. As a rule of thumb, if you have seen squirrels around your neighborhood, assume they will try to raid your feeder.
If you are thinking of hanging a feeder from a tree limb, you should perhaps reconsider. Squirrels are agile and are good jumpers. Consequently, if you hang a feeder from a tree, it will be accessible to squirrels. At the end of the day, a squirrel-proof feeder or any feeder on a pole with a baffle is the least aggravating solution. The most effective squirrel-proof feeder is the pole-mounted metal “house” type.
If you cannot avoid hanging a feeder, you should hang a tube with wire mesh around it. Also remember that any wood or plastic feeder will be OK if you place it on a pole and include a plastic or metal baffle. The pole should be located at least 10 feet from a tree limb or trunk to prevent squirrels from jumping on to it.
Bird Feeder Durability
You will find bird feeders in a wide variety of materials. Some examples of what’s available include plastic bag bird feeders; ones that are made of cloth, nylon, vinyl and metal netting or mesh. Other types include PVC or plastic tubes, ceramic and terra cotta feeders. Bird feeders are also available in various types of wood, including redwood, cedar, birch, pine and plywood. Other materials include sheet metal and steel, as well as glass tubes and bottles.
Lots of factors contribute to how long the feeder will last. You must consider the weather and how easy it is for squirrels can get to it. Water can also seep into any type of feeder no matter how well you try to protect it. Feeders made of cloth, vinyl, nylon and mesh may be cheap, but they offer little protection in the wet weather. You should add a plastic cover or dome on top of these bird feeders. Most feeders made wood, plastic, ceramic or metal will keep seed dry, but water can still seep into the feeding ports. You should buy feeders with drainage holes at the bottom to prevent this problem.
Bowl feeders and trays that have drainage holes are still prone to clogging with seeds, hulls and bird droppings. When these substances mix with rainwater, the solution can be toxic to any animal. Add seed trays to catch the debris before it becomes harmful.
How To Clean A Bird Feeder
When feeding wild birds in your garden, you should expect that they will make a mess. You do not have to wash the bird feeder every day, but you should clean it at least every few weeks. We seed and bird droppings are breeding grounds for salmonella. You should move your feeder a few feet periodically throughout the year to acclimate the ground to the seeds, droppings and other debris.
The maintenance required will depend on what kind of feeder you choose. For example, you should clean a thistle feeder for attracting goldfinches about once a month. If you are feeding hummingbirds, you should clean your feeder at least weekly. However, it is even better to do it two or three times a week. You should clean sunflower and suet feeders at least once a month. You’ll have an easy time cleaning plastic, ceramic and glass feeders. Simply wash them out in a bucket of warm, soapy water and add a teaspoon or so of chlorine bleach. Make sure to rinse the feeder well to get rid of any residue. Do the same with wooden bird feeders, but use something other than bleach so you don’t discolor the wood.
What Capacity Bird Feeder Should I Get?
The best feeder capacity for feeding wild birds in your garden depends very much on your own situation. It also depends on the species of birds you would like to attract to your habitat. In the case of hummingbirds, bigger is not always better. A single hummingbird drinks twice its body weight every day. If it is early in the season, you should remember that hummingbirds are territorial. This means they will not share a feeder with other hummingbirds. A sixteen ounce feeder is probably too much. It can even be harmful or fatal to the birds due to the fermentation of the sugar water solution. Two ounces should be sufficient. If you see more hummingbirds coming to your garden, you can always increase the number of feeders you provide.
If you opt for a large-volume seed feeder, protect it from the weather and keep it clean. After months of use, if the birds stop using your feeder even though it’s full, it’s probably time to clean the feeder.
How Many Birds Would You Like To Attract?
If you begin seeing too many birds feasting at your feeder, try providing smaller amounts of food. You can also use special seed blends or restrictive bird feeders intended to attract specific species of birds. Remember to keep your feeder consistently filled so the birds don’t go elsewhere for nourishment.
You can buy feeders for smaller species that keep out larger species of birds. Wooden feeders with bars and feeders surrounded with wire mesh act as deterrents for larger species. Other types of feeders, such as tray, platform or house feeders make food accessible to all species. Tube bird feeders without trays keep larger species at bay. If you remove perches, you will attract only clinging species such as finches, chickadees, woodpeckers.