Gardening Tips, Landscaping Tips — April 22, 2015 at 5:46 pm

Springtime Chores for the Birds


While bird feeding is a year-round activity that benefits both you and the birds, there are a few springtime chores that you can do to keep your yard birds happy, healthy, and, naturally, coming back.

Take stock of your feeders

Chances are, if you’ve been offering birds food in the winter (and you should), by the time spring rolls around, some of those feeders will have taken a beating from rain, sleet and snow. Get rid of any feeders that are cracked, broken or splintered as these can injure birds. Go ahead and toss any feeders that have a heavy accumulation of mold and rotten seed; these can make birds sick. It’s important to regularly clean your feeders and remove old seed. Particularly in wet weather when seed can become a breeding ground for bacteria. There are many diseases out there — think salmonella and conjunctivitis –and a dirty feeder could inadvertently harm birds.

Wash your hands thoroughly after handling seed and feeders, and try to keep young children away from touching the feeder itself.

To clean feeders, use warm soapy water in a bucket and a scrubbing brush that is set aside strictly for this chore. You can also use a solution of vinegar and water to sterilize the feeder. Two parts water to one part vinegar. Let it soak for a few hours. Now that your feeders are clean, you want to keep your seed fresh. Note that spring rains can turn seed moldy. Keep a close eye on it and store your unused seed in dry, sealed containers.

Branch out when it comes to food

There are about 100 species of birds that are regularly drawn to backyard feeding stations. Some only on migration, others are all year. Offer a variety of food such as nectar, fruit, suet and seed. And don’t forget the mealworms (They’re not as gross as they sound. The worms are dry and crunchy.) You’ll be amazed at the diversity.

Birds are messy

Rake up debris under feeders and move feeders to allow grass to recover. If black-oil sunflower seeds are killing your grass, consider switching to sunflower chips. These need a covered feeder since they spoil easily. And to make a larger base on your feeder, you might buy a wide round plastic platter (check out the dollar store). Score the inside of the platter (to hold extra glue), then attach it to the bottom of your feeder with hot glue sticks. The platter will catch flying seed.

If your feeders are on your patio, make sure that you keep the ground free of spent seed so that you don’t attract unwanted critters that could include rats and mice.

Speaking of feeder location

Try to find a location for your bird feeder that is near a window, so you can enjoy the different types of birds, but also close to shelter such as trees and bushes. Hawks will often attack distracted birds at feeders, so there should be cover that birds can fly to in order to escape. Note that if you place a feeder near your windows, you’ll need to put window decals on the glass to prevent birds from flying into the window.

Now you and visiting birds can enjoy springtime in your yard.