TIPS FOR HEALTHY BIRDFEEDING
At least 93 million Americans feed the birds. Feeding
birds provides many of us with an opportunity to observe wildlife up
close. We enjoy their antics, learn their habits, recognize individuals,
and have a good deal of fun watching the birds feeding at our feeders.
We certainly don't wish to cause any harm. Here are a few things that
can be done to assure a clean, healthy, and safe bird feeding station.
- Wash your hands before and after filling or cleaning any feeder.
- Give your seed and thistle tubes a shake before you refill them. This
will dislodge compacted seeds. Discard any clumps of old wet seed.
- Remove hulls from platform feeders and seed trays daily.
- Disinfect seed feeders by scrubbing with a weak bleach solution (1/4
cup of bleach to 2 gallons of warm water) at least once a month and
more often during the rainy season. Rinse well and allow to dry before
- Keep it clean under your feeders. Rake up seed hulls regularly. Move
your feeders at least once a season to prevent the build up of seed
hulls and droppings.
- Store seeds in a dry, airtight metal or plastic container.
- Don't allow large amounts of seed to become wet. If it's rainy outside,
use only covered feeders that will protect the seed, or only put out
a handful of seed at a time.
- If squirrels, raccoons, bears, deer or rodents are a problem, baffle
the feeders and keep the amount of seed provided equal to what the birds
can eat in one day.
- If you feed suet, use only no-melt suet or Nuts 'n' Bugs. Hot weather
makes suet rancid and unhealthy for the birds. Runny suet can foul feathers,
making them greasy, hard to clean, and of little use to the birds.
- Reduce window strikes by using window decals or placing the feeders
a safe distance away. Screening, netting or a series of branches over
the outside surface of a glass panel can also help to break up the reflection.
- Even though birds are not dependent on you for survival, try not to
discontinue feeding abruptly. Use a large capacity feeder or ask a neighbor
to feed them if you go away.
- Don't discontinue feeding in the spring or summer. In Tucson, the
heat of the summer can stress birds. Many birds will use and appreciate
your feeder all year round.
- Grease, oil, petroleum jelly, etc. on feeder wires or poles to discourage
squirrels or ants is forbidden. If these substances contact bird feathers,
the bird cannot preen them or wash them out. Gooy feathers put the bird
at grave risk from predators, weather, and disease. Use a squirrel or
raccoon baffle or ant barrier to keep those pests out.
- Make a brush pile near your feeders. Towhees, sparrows and other shy
birds feel more at ease with cover nearby. If roaming cats are present,
make sure they cannot use your brush pile for hunting birds.
- Don't use any insecticides, like ant or wasp killers, anywhere near
- Only use hummingbird feeders that are easy to clean. Wash with hot
soapy water and rinse completely every time you refill them.
- Mold is very bad on hummer feeders. Wash it off immediately.
- Use only white granulated sugar to make your own hummer nectar (5
parts water / 1 part sugar).
No powdered or brown
sugar, honey, molasses, red food coloring or artificial sweeteners should
ever be used.
- Keep bird baths away from feeders or perches where droppings can fall
- Rinse bird baths daily or whenever droppings accumulate. At least
once a month, scrub with a weak bleach solution (1/4 cup of bleach to
2 gallons of warm water), rinse well and refill.
And most importantly, enjoy the birds even more, knowing that your bird
feeding station is a clean and healthy place.