Now that we are enjoying spring-like weather, it is a good time to perform some spring cleaning-for the birds’ sake. If you have nesting boxes on your property that you have not cleaned out since last season’s nesting activity, I would do that right away.
This is also an excellent time to hang out nest-building materials – either of your own making, or the commercial varieties such as Cottontail Nest-Building Material or Hummer Helper Nesting Material.
This is also a good time of year to evaluate the condition of your seed feeders. Chances are, with all of the rain and snow we had this winter, your seed feeders could use a good cleaning. If there is seed caked and hardened at the bottom of your feeder, try to remove it using a flat-head screwdriver.
Additionally, you should clean the perches and the ports – the area where the seed is accessible to the birds. For both cleaning and sanitizing, use a mild bleach solution, which is nine parts water to one part bleach. For plastic feeders, instead of using a bleach solution, I recommend a mild soapy solution (dish soap is fine). Be sure to rinse the feeder really well when you are done cleaning and allow it to dry completely before refilling with seed.
Newer styles of tube and hopper feeders have removable bases, which makes cleaning much easier. Aspects, an American manufacturer of nature products, makes tube seed feeders with a slick quick-release base that permits rotating the bird seed and cleaning the feeder.
This is also an excellent time to evaluate the cleanliness of your nectar feeders. If your hummingbird feeder is difficult to clean, or if there are remnants of either mold or algae in the basin of the feeder, I would encourage you to replace your feeder. If you determine that it is time
to replace some of your older nectar feeders, consider replacing them with feeders that are bee- and wasp-proof. An important consideration is to avoid hummingbird feeders with the color yellow on them – especially the feeders with yellow flowers and yellow bee guards.
Some manufacturers of hummingbird feeders add decorative touches to their feeders to make them more attractive to consumers but, in reality, those accents provide no benefit to wild birds. Feeders with yellow flowers tend to attract bees and wasps. When you think about what color attracts hummingbirds, it is the color red, not yellow.
Another issue that frequently plagues those who feed hummingbirds is the challenge of ants getting into the feeder by the hundreds and drowning. There are excellent hummingbird feeders on the market that solve the ant problem. If you have an existing feeder that is in good condition but is an easy target for ants, consider adding a “Nectar Protector” to your feeder. This simple device is completely safe for birds, uses no pesticides or chemicals, and is very effective at keeping ants off.
The activity of feeding wild birds is similar in the responsibility of being a pet owner – there should be a minimum standard for keeping feeding surfaces clean. I am sure that you clean out your dog or cat’s water dish on a regular basis, as well as the food dish. Maintaining clean feeding stations for birds is important so that they do not contract or spread infectious diseases at feeders. Until next week, Happy Birding!