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Top Questions

Q. I have had the worst problems with common grackles this summer. What can I do?

This has been a terrible season for grackles. Unfortunately, grackles are very agile and much smaller than squirrels. We have found that most counter-weight feeders are not effective against avian pests like grackles and starlings. The best ways that I know to truly keep these pests at bay is to feed straight safflower in feeders they  can land on and a good cage feeder for anything with sunflower or peanuts in it. Not all cage feeders will do the trick.

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Q. Should I stop feeding birds with warmer weather?

That is really up to you. Most of my customers do cut back on feeding during July, August & September. There are birds around and they will visit your feeders year round but due to territoriality, birds like cardinal & chickadees will not tolerate rivals within their boundaries which may include your feeders. My favorite part of summer feeding is watching the adults bringing in their young and passing seeds to them. If you want or need to cut back, a typical scenario is to cut back on your ground and large feeders but continue with your finch and peanut feeders.

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Q. Are bird bath heaters costly or dangerous?

No, definitely not. Realize that a bird bath heater’s job is to keep water unfrozen, which means 33 degrees or so—they don’t create a Jacuzzi for the birds. Bird Bath Heaters draw very little energy and most are equipped with a thermostat to turn off when the temperature is above 34. The best safety tip I can give you is to wrap the connection to the extension cord with electrical tape and you should get a good moisture seal.



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Q. How do I keep the birds from building a nest on my porch light?

Each spring we deal with the issue of birds building nest were they are just not wanted. Two things to remember; once birds have laid their eggs, you can’t touch their nest (except European Starlings and House Sparrows) and birds are best discouraged with visual deterents. While not guaranteed, a toy snake draped across or tacked up close to the area where they are trying to build is enough to get them to abandon that nest site. We also have Scare Tape that can be suspended in the area and some have had luck with hanging old CDs from the ceiling. They will find a new place to nest.

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Q. How do I keep the deer out of my feeder?

In a word, height. Because deer can reach about six feet up when they want to, you need to get the bottom of your feeders at least six feet up in the air. If you are feeding from a deck arm that usually isn't a problem, but from a pole system or tree limb it can be hard to reach your feeders. As usual, we have items that can help. Erva Pole extensions of up to 28" can get your feeders high enough in the air and their SkyHook fit into a piece of PVC or hollow pipe to help you lift your feeder on and off the higher hooks>

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Q. When will my hummingbirds be leaving? Should I take my feeders down to make them leave?

Hummingbirds like other birds are triggered by day length to start their migrations. Because flying is so costly on a bird’s body, they have to fatten up to survive their nightly flights (one reason they defend feeders so vigorously this time of year).By keeping your feeders out and filled late into the fall, you may help a late migrating bird that is coming through when natural food is truly scarce. In the past few years, we have consistently gotten reports of hummingbirds at feeders through the first week of October.

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Q. Does hummingbird nectar need to be red?

Some are convinced that if they do not put the red food coloring in their feeders, they will lose their hummingbirds. The truth is, hummers don’t know the color of the nectar. They key in on the feeder. More specifically, they key in on the “flower” opennings, stick the tip of their bill in and lap the nectar like a dog. They don’t look into the holes to check the color. Clear nectar is fine.

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Q. Does a hummingbird feeder have to be red to attract them?

Definitely not. While red is the classic color for attracting them, I have seen hummers feeding on practically every color there is. In early spring, they love buckeyes, which are yellow. I recently planted some May Night Salvia (purple) and had a male feeding on them within 10 minutes of getting them in the ground. All color hummingbird feeders are great.

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