Keep the Birds Coming Back for More
Tips for attracting birds to your garden
In our January/February 2011 issue, Tool Shop columnist Veronica Lorson Fowler gave advice on which types of feeders (and food) attract which birds. Here are some more tips to keep your feathered friends happy, healthy, and well-fed.
After the party
Once your birdfeeders are set up and birds are feeding, there’s some follow-up care.
● Keep feeders clean. Once a month or so, clean with a solution of one part chlorine bleach to nine parts water. This prevents the transmission of disease—which is not uncommon when birds are congregating in such a tight space.
● Change seed regularly. Remove and replace seed if it gets wet, so it won’t rot. Also replace seed if it shows any signs of mold or mildew.
● Don’t fret if the food runs out. Birds can move on to other food sources, even in winter. Feeders simply supplement natural sources.
Watching the antics of squirrels as they find new and inventive ways to get to a birdfeeder can be almost as fun as watching the birds themselves. But these furry invaders also go through a lot of expensive seed and scare away hungry birds.
The best way to avoid squirrels is to place feeders on a pole in an open area. The feeder must be at least 5 feet off the ground and as far as possible from your house and trees, since squirrels can jump 6 feet or more.
Also check out squirrel-proof feeders that tip or collapse when squirrels jump on them, though squirrels are very good at hanging on. Also useful are squirrel baffles, cone-shaped pieces that prevent squirrels from climbing poles and sliding down ropes and wires.
Monday, December 27, 2010 1:09 PM
I PUT UP SQUIRREL FEEDERS AND THEY STAY AWAY FROM THE BIRD FEEDERS.
Wednesday, January 05, 2011 8:47 AM
I have done that too. We used to live in Holland and I had a large feeder and loved to watch them from kitchen table. We had black squirrel's and they were fun to watch to.
Saturday, January 15, 2011 1:51 PM
How do I keep black birds away?
Thursday, January 20, 2011 3:54 PM
I feed both birds and squirrels. Just can't get enough of watching them.
Tuesday, January 25, 2011 1:59 PM
Did you get an answer on how to keep black birds away?
Friday, February 11, 2011 3:55 PM
I.d like to know that answer too about the black birds?
Tuesday, February 15, 2011 2:14 PM
I have squirrel guards that usually work, but we still have 18" snow right now...they just jump right onto the feeder itself - don't even need to try to shimmy up the pole and hit the squirrel guard. Now they just sit ON the guard and eat away.
Friday, February 18, 2011 8:30 AM
I feed the birds year round. I have 7 feeders also feed the squirrels with a seperate feeder. I live in GA and the Robins and Goldfinches are here. My thistle feeders are emptying fast. I think Spring is here. I hope! When I have too many blackbirds on my feeders I don't fill the feeders for a couple of days and they move on. That is the only thing I have found that works.
Monday, February 28, 2011 2:41 PM
Does anybody out there have a fool-proof squirrel deterent when it comes to bird feeders? I want to buy a bird feeders, but have LOTS of squirrels thanks to a neighbor at the end of the block who feeds them peanuts in the shell! Any advice on the bird feeders would be greatly appreciated!
Tuesday, March 01, 2011 3:46 PM
Shoot the neighbor that is feeding the squirrels? Actuallly I have bought just about any variety of feeders and the squirrels get what they want. Where I live - for some reason - we do not have squirrel. Maybe too many hunters? Our problem is blue jays!
Tuesday, March 01, 2011 7:18 PM
After reading everyones comments about squirrels there is NO sure fire ways to deter them. It's a bird feeder fact that if you feed the birds you feed everything else also.
Tuesday, March 08, 2011 12:34 PM
I'd like to know how to keep the big black birds away as well. They eat most of the food and because they are too heavy, they end up spilling what they don't eat from my feeders.
Tuesday, March 29, 2011 5:08 PM
The day someone comes up with a fool proof plan to rid my yard of squirrels I'll buy it. They are destroying my trees, eat all of my birdseed, break my birdfeeders, AND eat half of the bulbs I plant every year. This year they are even digging up my other plants. What happened to squirrels eating acorns and walnuts we have hundreds of those to satisfy them for years. Ugh!!!
Saturday, April 16, 2011 4:28 PM
I used to have expensive bird feeders that the squirrels loved. What works best for me is the little six sided plastic houses that Walmart sells. I hang them on a shepherd's hook, but after watching the squirrels stretch from the pole to the feeder and tip open the lid (spilling the seed), I came up with a solution that seems to be working. I drilled small holes on opposite sides of the top the feeder. Then I hooked a large paper clip through the hole on top and another over the edge of the perch on the bottom (the perch is not a solid shelf). I hooked a rubber band between the two to keep the tension tight. The squirrels can no longer move the lid, and all I have to do is unhook the bottom clip to pop up the lid and fill the feeder. So far, so good... On my platform feeders, I use a millet mix that does not contain sunflower seeds so the squirrels are not interested.
Sunday, April 17, 2011 12:00 PM
Has anyone ever had bees at their feeders? I feed in various feeders (hopper, tube, platform, mesh, etc) & have been doing so for many years. This is the first year that bees have come to the feeders. I feed corn/seed mixes, sunflower seeds, suet & nijer. They didn't seem to bother the nijer or suet. There were so many of them, the birds were not able to get to the feeders. This seemed to happen on sunny days when it may have been warmer for them. I live in east central Illinois. I can't figure it out. I don't know what would be in seeds to attract bees. We do live near an orchard that has bee hives, but have been here five years and never had that happen. Any clues??
Saturday, May 07, 2011 2:13 PM
Everyone feeds the birds. But remember they also need WATER, especially in semi-arid climates like ours in Southern California. Put up a bird bath and watch the fun!
Tuesday, June 28, 2011 9:05 PM
I have a great dog in the back yard. NO SQUIRRELS in the back, only in the front yard.
Sunday, July 10, 2011 1:10 AM
I put baking grease on my bird feeding poles in the summer. It's kind of funny to watch the squirrels try to climb the poles and keep sliding down. I watched a squirrel go from one feeder to another and then move on because it wasn't going to get any seed from my feeders.
Thursday, September 13, 2012 1:09 PM
Blackbirds are hard to control especially when they have young. The best guard is to have caged feeders that only allow small birds. This will keep cardinals out also so you can throw some safflower seed on the ground which cardinals love and blackbirds do not like. I alos restricted the amount of suet I put out and many blackbirds looked elsewhere. Squirrels are a lot worse problem but these cages will also keep them out and they do not eat safflower. I tried the grease a few years ago and the squirrels started jumping from my roof and trees down onto the feeders.