If raccoons or bears are a problem, the best solution is to take your feeders in at night.
Keeping your feeders clean is a very important part of bird feeding. Bacteria and disease are spread through bird droppings on feeders, seed and on hulls below the feeder. Damp feed and debris can also cultivate fungus. Therefore, bird feeders need to be cleaned more often in hot and humid weather, and nectar feeders should be cleaned every few days.
- Discard wet or moldy food, and empty cloudy nectar immediately.
- Sanitize feeders regularly with a 50/50 solution of white vinegar and hot water. DO NOT USE HARSH CHEMICALS. Our Bird Feeder Brush and Perfect Little Brushes make cleaning easy.
- Place your feeders upside-down to air-dry completely before refilling with new seed or nectar.
- Rake, shovel or shop-vac seed debris from beneath feeder on a regular basis to prevent the growth of mold and bacteria and to deter rodents.
- Disinfect anything you may have used to remove food and clean feeders.
- Overcrowding at feeders is a key factor in spreading disease. Provide additional feeders if overcrowding occurs.
Hulled seed leaves no mess under the feeder, but if using in hot or wet weather, fill your feeder only with what will be eaten in a day. Otherwise, the seed can rot and make the birds sick.
The seed that is most preferred by songbirds is black oil sunflower. Striped sunflower seed is next best.
The popular choice for finches is thistle (niger or nyjer) seed. It is disliked by most other birds, so if other birds are monopolizing your sunflower seed, this is a good option.
White millet is the preferred millet and is readily eaten by Doves, Sparrows and Juncos. Cardinals, Chickadees, Titmice and Nuthatches. It also has the added benefit of deterring Starlings, Sparrows, Blackbirds and squirrels!
Cracked corn is relished by Blue Jays and large game birds. However, it does tend to attract squirrels, so we recommend offering cracked corn in tray feeders like our Giant Seed Tray and Universal Seed Tray.
Peanuts are big with Woodpeckers, Titmice, Chickadees, Nuthatches and Jays.
Mealworms attract insect eaters like Bluebirds, Thrushes and Warblers, while other seed eating birds enjoy them too.
Sugar water that you mix yourself is a mainstay for Hummingbirds and is taken by as many as fifty other nectar eaters, including Orioles and Woodpeckers.
Store seed in a cool dry place in a sealed container that rodents can’t enter. Mice can carry and spread some bird diseases without being affected themselves.
Year-round feeding of wild birds gives year-round pleasure! Although winter has always been the traditional time to feed the birds, there are many reasons to continue through all the seasons. The birds also benefit in the spring when food stores are at their lowest and energy is spent nesting and rasing young. In summer you'll watch the young initiated to feeders by parents. You'll see plumage changes, too, like the dramatic transformation of the Goldfinch.
Birds need a supply of water year-round, so if you place a bird bath in your yard, you will notice an even wider variety of birds! Some very enjoyable activity will take place at the birdbath. In winter, you can use a birdbath heater to keep ice from forming in sub freezing temps. Be sure to change the water regularly (at least once a week) to ensure the birds have a fresh supply, and to keep mosquitoes away.
Peanut Butter Suet Dough Recipe*
An article by Julie Zickefoose reminds me that the birds enjoy and benefit from suet products in winter. Suet gives them additional calories that they need to survive the severe weather. But restrict its use to COLD weather and don't use it in warm weather as it is too rich and can actually cause gout. I'm going to make the recipe below with the hope that I'll be just as successful attracting different species as Julie has been.
Peanut Butter Suet Dough or Bird Pudding
Submitted by Carrie Griffis
1 cup melted lard or beef suet
1 cup peanut butter
2 cups quick oats
2 cups yellow cornmeal
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar (optional)
Melt lard and peanut butter together on a low burner. Take off heat, and add remaining ingredients. Spread on a cookie sheet, and allow to cool in the refrigerator until the mixture is just hard enough to cut into pieces. Store in freezer bags and use as needed.
I've been a Julie Zickefoose fan for a long time and encourage you to check out her blog. Enjoy some wonderful stories at http://juliezickefoose.blogspot.com/.
Just Feed Birds,
*From the Bird Watcher's Digest site: