Most common bird feeder problems can be overcome with a simple shift in how you think about your backyard garden.
Ask yourself: Am I throwing a backyard dinner party or just shoveling hash?
Think about your last dinner party
It’s likely that you spent a day or two planning the menu, shopping for ingredients and setting the mood. Dinner parties are all about setting a delicious scene for your guests. When we do the work to invite guests to sit at our table, we’re not just shoveling out portions like an assembly-line cook. We take time to make feeding a person as much an experience as it is a meal.
Why think of feeding your backyard birds any differently?
Just like a human guest will remember a burnt souffle, a wild bird isn’t likely to forget bad food or dangerous feeders. Attracting birds may not require linen napkins, but it does require a keen eye for detail and a little bit of time.
If one of these common problems is keeping birds from your feeders, these tips will help you fix it:
1. The birds are making a mess!
When you throw a party, you’re usually not serving fast food in . Instead, you take the time to serve, if not a homemade meal, then something laid out with care.
If you’re feeding human food–like stale bread–or cheap seed to birds, you’re serving junk food to the birds and they’ll likely remember it. Instead, fill your bird feeder with high-quality foods like black oil sunflower seed or suet. Quality food are chemical-free and don’t contain the fillers that most birds won’t eat.
By avoiding cheaper and/or human foods, the birds will eat most of what is offered and make less mess.
2. My windows are causing a hazard!
When your guests approach your home, you make sure the entrance is inviting and free of clutter and debris.
Do the same thing for wild birds by keeping feeders thirty feet away or within one foot of the window. That way birds can’t build up enough momentum to injure themselves at the windows. In addition, a bird guard can help keep reflections in the glass to a minimum.
3. Uninvited guests keep showing up!
If your guests have to squeeze ten people at a table made for six, they’re likely to have a hard time enjoying their meal or relaxing afterwards. Shuffling for uninvited guests can be a chore, but sometimes an extra mouth can reap unexpected rewards…Like when he shows up with good wine and even better conversation.
If birds are not the only ones enjoying your bird food, consider strategies to keep squirrels out of your feeder and follow through on a few of our techniques to combat raccoons. Keep all the backyard wildlife happy with separate feeders, spaced far apart, for different types of animals.
4. No birds are stopping by!
At a dinner party you consider lighting, decoration and music. Ambiance is important to having a memorable evening and enticing your guests to visit again.
To attract wild birds you must consider ambiance too. Birds prefer to feed in places where cover is plentiful and wind is minimal. Find a quiet sunny spot for your bird feeders, ideally to the south or east, to protect from harsh winds. Then, plant a few bird-friendly plants, shrubs and trees to allow birds a place to escape or hide if needed.
5. My guests are really picky!
Serving guests with picky taste buds or allergies can be a headache, but if you care about them enough to invite them in the first place, you’ll usually make an effort to serve up something the picky eater will be pleased with.
Different species of birds prefer different types of food. All birds shy away from a feeder that is clean or in disrepair. By providing a variety of feeders–suet, seed, fruit and nectar–you’ll be more likely to attract whatever wild birds are in your area. And don’t forget to
clean your feeders!
The benefits of time and planning
With a bit of time and planning, about as much as you would put into a dinner party, you can keep wild birds happy in your backyard and avoid these five common bird feeder problems.