Feeder Station Stewardship

Photo Group
Feeder Station Diversity
Photo by: 
Jim Braddock

Are your birds safe in your yard? By placing a feeder or bird bath in our yard, we take on a certain degree of responsibility to protect them as well. In other words, we don’t want our yard to be “death traps.” We can minimize the threats that bird face in our yards with just a small amount of effort.

Predators

Just like lions around the water holes in the Serengeti, hawks and cats will hunt areas where they know prey will frequent. Feeder placement is often the simplest solution to this issue. By placing your feeders and baths close to escape cover (trees and shrubs), birds can generally elude the occasional hawk. If you know you have cats in the neighborhood, you will need to try and keep as much seed off the ground as possible (seed trays, platform feeders) and make sure your feeders are several feet away from low vegetation that cats can use for an ambush.

Tip: If you don’t have good close escape cover, consider building a temporary brush pile during the winter season.

Disease

Anytime that a lot of animals are close together, the threat of disease is greater. Keep your feeders clean. Once per month your feeders and baths should be washed. It is especially important to treat the ports and perches with either a mild bleach (10%) or a 50/50 white vinegar and water solution.

Tip: If you see a bird that is acting sick at your feeders, don’t wait, give them a good cleaning then.

While not a disease per say, keeping your seed free of mold is important for a bird’s health. Keep your seed dry with hoods if possible and always rotate your seed to ensure freshness.

Tip: For the health of the birds and your lawn, don’t forget to rake up the hulls and wasted seed from under your feeders every so often.

Window Strikes

Whether you feed birds or not, you have probably had birds crash into your windows. Fatalities are more likely when the birds are flying fast enough upon collision to break their necks. Studies suggest that by placing feeders within 10 ft of windows the birds don’t have enough distance to build up a deadly impact speed. Window decals, like the new products from Window Alert, placed on the outside of your windows can help the birds see the clear window.

Tip: Dirty windows tend to be safer than sparking clean ones. (Ruth’s favorite busy housewife tip!!)

Feeding birds is a great hobby and we get countless hours of enjoyment out of it each year. Be a good friend to your birds and make your feeder station the clean, safe refuge they deserve.

Don’t forget the simple rule: Clean Food, Clean Water & Shelter!

By Mark McKellar

FALL 2004