How to stop bird seed from growing?
There are two ways to prevent seed from growing. First, you can use a hulled seed (e.g. hulled sunflower seed, hulled millet). These seeds don't have a shell to protect the seed, and it prevents the seed from germinating. The other way is to "heat treat" your bird seed in the oven. Fill a casserole dish with about an inch of bird seed and place in the oven at 220 degrees F for about 20 minutes. Don't let the seed roast as this will decrease its nutritional value. The heat treating will sterilize the seed so it will not germinate.
The bird seed is always wet! What can I do to limit the amount of bird seed I have to throw out?
If you have a wood feeder, simply add an asphalt roof shingle to each side for an extra large overhang to protect the bird seed. You can also finish the wooden feeder's exterior with a stain so water cannot penetrate the wood. If your feeder isn't wood there are options to purchase rain covers for your feeders. Some customers find it easier during the rainy season to feed less bird seed (e.g. enough for day rather versus a couple of days) to help keep from seed spoiling from the rain.
How can I keep cats away from my bird feeders?
Cats hunt birds for sport. Since most house cats are well feed and have a good home, you may not be able to completely get rid of the cat but you can slow it down or deter it from your bird feeders. One solution is to use a 2-3' high chicken wire with a hole side of 2-3". Standing the chicken wire on end make a 3' diameter hoop and place under your bird feeder with a couple of bean poles for support. As the birds feed on the ground in this area, the cat has to jump over the chicken wire, giving the birds time to escape through the holes in the wire. If a cat is jumping out from under some shrubs, place some holly clippings, blackberry bush trimmings or chicken wire placed flat under the shrub. Cats don't like to walk on sharp or prickly things. Bells sometimes work on cats, but you need to use at least 2 bells so they can rattle against each other as some cats learn how to muffle them.
Why do birds hit the window?
Bird strikes are usually caused by reflection in the window, or if there is another window on the other side (think tunnel). To prevent window strikes you can try closing your shears, blinds or vertical blinds. You do not need to completely close them, just draw them together enough that you can still see through them, but the birds can see something is there. Window decals do work, but not in all instances. Decals can be as simple as yellow post-it-notes, hawk outlines or even sun catchers, it just lets the birds know something is there. Hawks can also be contributors to birds crashing into the window, as the birds try to escape from the predator. We recommend ultraviolet decals placed on the outside of the window to help prevent window collisions. Ultraviolet decals are semi-transparent to our eyes, but because birds seed in ultraviolet they fluoresce. The shape of the decal doesn't matter to the birds, as they don't see the design as animal.
How do I keep larger birds out of the feeder?
Try a bird feeder that has a large overhang and minimal distance between the rough and try (e.g. 4-5"). Another option is to cover your feeder with 2" chicken wire so only small birds can get through (smaller than a Spotted Towhee). On tube style feeders cut the perches so they are only 1" long, making it difficult for a large bird to perch. Which ever method you use, remember to leave a feeder in which the large birds can feed at without scaring off the little ones. All sizes of birds are enjoyable to watch.
My hummingbird feeder keeps having wasp (or ant) problems. What can I do?
In most situations the presence of ants and/or wasps at a hummingbird feeder is because the feeder is leaking. Even a small leak with a hummingbird feeder is enough to attract other critters to the feeder that enjoy a quick, high energy snack. Most of the time this problem occurs with upright-bottle style feeders (the ones that after filling you need to invert the bottle to fill the feeding reservoir). With this style of feeder it can be difficult to stop the leaking due to how the feeder is designed makes them prone to leaking due to numerous issues (e.g. swaying in wind, pressure build up). We recommend switching to a no-leak style hummingbird feeder like our saucer style hummingbird feeders, these feeders eliminate the problem of leaking and most customers find them easier to clean too.
When switching hummingbird feeders we always recommend if ants were the problem that you move the feeder to a different location (even temporarily). This is because aunts will continue to travel the same path they had previously used for a food reward, and even though your new feeder isn't leaking they will still try to get into the feeder as they've gotten food there before.
Why do I have so much bird seed on the ground under my bird feeder?
Birds are energy efficient and can be choosy about what types bird seed they will eat as a result. Not all birds eat the same types of seeds. For example, chickadees, nuthatches and finches don't like eating millet, but love eating sunflower seeds and peanuts. But sparrows (dark-eyed juncos, towhees, etc.) enjoy eating millet. We like to work with customers to make sure they are feeding the types of bird seeds for the birds they are actively seeing in their yard.
Common reasons for bird seed being on the ground can include:
1. Your bird seed could be stale. Bird seed has a shelf life of 6 months to a year from when it was packaged, and it only stays fresh if you've been able to keep it in a cool, dry location. Birds will not eat stale seed and will dig through your bird seed in the hopes of locating seeds they can eat.
2. The mix you are feeding isn't designed for birds in your area. A lot of commercial bird seed mixes are designed for birds out East, and the birds we have in the West have different preferences.
3. Your bird seed has shells. There are bird species that will sort through bird seeds that have shells to find the biggest seed, or the one that is easiest to open. Because of this you will have some bird seed kicked to the ground. In some situations ground eaters (your sparrows or quail) will eat the seed that's on the ground, but you often will still have shells pile up under your bird feeder.
If you're tired of having bird seed on the ground under your bird feeder we recommend changing the type of bird seed you use. Our favourite bird seed is shelled sunflower seed, it is mess-free and all birds use it.
How can I prevent squirrels from eating all my bird seed?
Squirrels love bird feeders, especially if you're feeding anything with nuts or sunflower seeds. Depending on your yard there are a couple of options you can try to deter the squirrels:
1. Mix cayenne pepper into the bird seed. Squirrels have taste buds and birds do not. Make sure you coat the bird seed well, as having a layer applied only to the top results in the squirrel digging past the spice. Some customers will use products such as hot sauce or Cole's Flaming Squirrel for those especially tricky squirrels.
2. Is your feeder hanging from a tree in your yard? Squirrels naturally travel through trees and having the bird feeder in these areas makes it convenient for the squirrel. We recommend moving the bird feeder onto a metal pole or shepherd's crook somewhere in your yard that is far enough away from items the squirrel can jump from. Please keep in mind squirrels can jump 4ft across from items and 2ft from a standstill, make sure your pole has your feeders at least 6ft suspended from the ground. We recommend metal poles in most situations because squirrels can climb wood poles easily.
3. Squirrel climbing your metal pole? Unfortunately squirrels can climb poles that are 1" in diameter and smaller. You can put a baffle around your pole to prevent the squirrels from climbing up. Baffles work great at deterring squirrels as long as they are unable to jump across from other items in your yard onto the feeder.
4. Still having problems with your squirrels? Contact us and we would be more than happy to help find the best way to deter squirrels from your feeders.
Do you have any birdbaths for hummingbirds?
Unfortunately we do no carry bird baths for hummingbirds. Hummingbirds are unable to wade into water like other birds and can only bathe in really shallow water. Most people find it easier to have moving water available for a hummingbird (e.g. misting water) that you can set up over a perch, allowing them to sit on the perch and preen there. We do carry an assortment of options to make your birdbath hummingbird friendly.
What should I use to disinfect my bird feeder/ birdbath/ hummingbird feeder?
We recommend dilute bleach to disinfect your feeders and birdbaths (9 parts water to 1 part bleach). We recommend cleaning your feeders and birdbaths often with soap and water, but then to incorporate disinfecting your feeder/ birdbath at least twice a month. Cleaning with soap and water will remove general grime, but disinfecting will help prevent bacteria growth and viral transmissions among your birds.
I have a woodpecker trying to excavate a hole in the side of my house.
The first question is always: is the woodpecker simply drumming, or truly excavating? Woodpeckers drumming on objects is different than if they are excavating. When we refer to woodpecker drumming, we are talking about a woodpecker pecking at an object in a pattern,, and they tend to find the few objects that make the most noise (e.g. drain spouts, metal siding)