Top Questions

Q. What is the secret to keeping squirrels and raccoons out of my suet?

Luckily, squirrels don’t tend to take to suet as often as they do sunflower but we do get the occassional report. The real problem tends to be with the “night shift”. Many people simply take their suet feeders in at night. While this very effective, it only takes forgetting it once that leads to a trip down to the edge of the woods to retrieve the feeder. The simplest solution that I have found is Hot Pepper Suet. No, it doesn’t hurt the birds and they will eat it just as well as many of the other formulas.

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Q. What is the proper sugar to water ratio for hummingbirds?

Another of our more common spring questions, the ration is 4 parts water to 1 part sugar. There are many people out there that will use 3 to 1 and even 2 to 1. According to the North American Hummingbird Society who has sponsored numerous studies on the topic, 4 to 1 is the best ratio for the birds. The issue in most cases is water. The stronger the sugar mix, the more water the hummingbirds have to take in to break it down. This means more time traveling to and from dependable water sources and wasted energy for the birds.

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Q. Should I pick up a baby bird?

This depends. If you are picking the bird up to place it back into a nest or putting it up on a limb so that a dog or cat can’t get to it - YES. Birds have terrible senses of smell and do not care about human scent. If you are picking it up to take it to somewhere else, the answer is NO. Most baby birds that are on the ground are very close to being on their own and they generally need only a few more bugs or worms from the adults to make it. Too often people pick them up and take them to a vet or nature center while mom and dad birds are going nuts looking for their baby.

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Q.Why is a cardinal/robin/bluebird banging repeatedly against my windows?

I know this is not new for many of you, but it is easily the most frequently asked question each spring. It is also the same reason the woodpeckers drum on your downspouts and/or flashing around your fireplace. Plain and simple it is “love”. The birds banging into your window repeatedly are seeing their reflection and think it is an intrudor in their territory. He or she is doing its best to run this freeloader off. The only guaranteed solution is to cover the window on the outside for the next few weeks (nesting season).

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Q. When should I have my bluebird boxes up?

Last year was an incredible year for early bluebirds. Typically they do not start nesting until April, sometimes late April. Will we see eggs again in March like some landlords did? I recommend each year to have your boxes up and cleaned by late February no matter the weather. Bluebirds will start their pair bonding then and start checking out potential nesting sights. We often see them taking a few sprigs of grass into the box that gets us really excited but it is much too early for them to be laying eggs now. Be patient and remember they generally nest 3 times per season.

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Q. Does anything eat Safflower?

I still chuckle when people say “nothing eats that stuff”. If that is the case, it is dissappearing by the thousands of pounds each year from feeders in our area because it is only second in sales to Black Oil Sunflower. It is true that less birds like Safflower, but this is considered a good things by most. It is the less desirable birds like House Sparrows, Common Grackle and Brown-headed Cowbirds that tend not to like it (not to mention squirrels).

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Q. What is best method for cleaning my bird feeders?

That is a very timely topic. Many people like to clean their feeders up at the end of the hot summer season in preperation for the “official” feeding season. First I make sure the feeders are empty, then soak them in plain water for about 30 mnutes. I then wash them in a liquid detergent (Dawn). I have a couple of different brushes I use and depending on the degree of “filth”, I may take the feeder completely apart for this. After thoroughly rinsing all the parts, I spray my feeders down with a 10% bleach solution to kill any bacteria that may have survived the cleaning.

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Q. Are there fewer hummingbirds than normal this year? (FALL 2014)

It is amazing how this question gets asked each year. Two customers will come in bragging about how many hummingbirds they have and the next will want to know if the population has crashed because they are not seeing any. It is hard to know and the people who are not seeing them are rarely comforted by any answer I give them. As with the question above, I really think that hummingbirds have done quite well this summer but I think that the wet conditions have led to bountiful wildflowers and landscaping.

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