February is “Feed Birds” month in much of North America. And what great timing! If you’re going through a cold winter, you can help wintering birds that are going through it with you. If you live further south, you’ll have not only year-round feathered friends to feed, but also an influx of migrating visitors from colder climates.
If you grow native plants in your garden, chances are good you already have quite a few feathered visitors already. If you’d like to supplement that, or if nothing in your garden attracts birds, here are some tips for successful birdfeeder use.
There are three main factors to consider when you choose where to place a feeder:
•There must be easy year-round access. You’ll have to clean and fill feeder in all types of weather.
•There will always be debris under a bird feeding station, such as discarded shells, bird droppings, and so on. Choose a location where this can be easily cleaned up.
•If there are squirrels in your neighborhood, you’ll want to place feeder where they can’t reach it. Sure, they’re cute but they won’t share their food with birds. The best solution for this problem is a pole-mounted feeder (the pole should be a least 10 feet from nearest tree limb or trunk) that is either “squirrel-proof” or protected by a baffle.
The first priority with seed in a feeder is to keep it dry. Seed will spoil quickly when it gets damp or wet and can breed diseases like salmonella.
•Look for feeders with some type of roof or dome to keep out direct rain water.
•Be sure there are drainage holes in bottom of both seed hopper and any seed tray.
•Clean bird feeder regularly. How often will depend on weather and type of feeder you’ve chosen.
Birds are notoriously picky eaters and they will methodically discard most of seeds in a seed mix to get to their favorite. Seeds that wind up on ground are likely to be contaminated by dampness and bird droppings and will be unappetizing to birds. If you leave debris there, you will most likely attract rodents.