Why do birds hit the window?
Bird strikes are usually caused by a reflection in the window, or if there is another window directly across from the first (think tunnel). Hawks can also be contributors to birds crashing into windows, as the birds try and escape from the predator. To prevent window strikes you can try closing your sheers, blinds, or vertical blinds. You do not need to close them completely, just draw them together enough that you can still see through them but 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. Anything that can let the birds know that there is something there. We recommend ultraviolet decals placed on the outside of the window. They are semi-transparent to our eyes, but because birds see in ultraviolet they fluoresce. The shape of the decal doesn’t matter to the birds, they can’t tell what it is, so the style you choose depends on what you would rather look at.
Why do I have so much bird seed under my feeder?
Birds are energy efficient and can be choosy about what types of bird seed they will eat. Not all birds will eat the same types of seeds, for example chickadees, nuthatches and finches don’t like eating millet but love sunflower seeds and peanuts. However sparrows such as dark-eyed juncos and towhees enjoy millet.
Common reasons for finding bird seed on the ground include
1. The bird seed could be stale. Bird seed has a shelf life of 6 months from when it was packaged (not purchased) and only stays fresh if you store it in a cool, dry place. Birds will not eat stale seed and will dig through your bird seed looking for the types of seed they can eat.
2. The mix you are feeding them isn’t designed for birds in your area. A lot of commercial bird seed mixes are based off of 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 with 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 feeders such as sparrows or quail will eat the seed on the ground, but often you will still have shells pile up under the feeder.
If you’re tired of having bird seed under your feeder, we recommend changing the type of bird seed you are using. Our favourite bird seed is shelled sunflower seed, as it is mess-free (no shells to clean up, and no sprouting) and every bird eats it.
How do I 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, which prevents the seed from germinating. The second option 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 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 seed from spoiling due to 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.
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. Whichever 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.
How can I prevent squirrels from eating all my bird seed?
Squirrels love bird feeders, especially if you’re feeding anything with nuts of sunflower seeds. Depending on your yard, there are a couple of options to try.
1. Mix cayenne pepper into the bird seed, as squirrels have taste buds and birds do not. Make sure to coat the seed well so they can’t dig past the spice and continue eating your seed. Some customers have also tried products such as hot sauce or Cole’s Flaming Squirrel for the especially tricky critters.
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 very convenient for them. We recommend moving the feeder onto a metal pole or shepherd’s hook somewhere in your yard that is far enough away from any item the squirrel can jump from. Keep in mind that squirrels can jump up to 4ft across items and 2ft from a standstill, so make sure the feeder is at least 6ft off the ground. Metal poles are recommended, as squirrels can climb wooden poles easily.
3. Squirrel climbing your metal pole? Unfortunately squirrels can climb metal poles that are 1″ or smaller in diameter. One option you can try is putting a baffle around the 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 to reach the feeder.
4. Still having problems with your squirrels? Contact us and we’ll be more than happy to work with you to find a solution.
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 ants 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.
Do you have any birdbaths for hummingbirds?
Unfortunately we do not 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 diluted bleach to disinfect your feeders and birdbaths (9 parts water to 1 part bleach). Feeders should be cleaned often with soap and water, and you should be 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. Hummingbird feeders should be cleaned with hot water, a vinegar solution (cleaning vinegar only, not the cooking kind), or diluted bleach instead of soap as the soap can leave a residue behind that mixes with the sugar water.
I have a woodpecker trying to excavate a hole in the side of my house.
First, find out if the woodpecker is 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). If the woodpecker is drumming, it’s usually for attracting a mate or claiming territory, and will most likely stop once their breeding season starts. If it’s excavating, you can tell what they are excavating for by looking at the holes left behind. Round, large holes are for nesting, while smaller, irregular holes are from the woodpecker searching for insects. If the bird is excavating a cavity for nesting, first make sure there are no birds inside, then you can plug the hole. To deter them from making another hole, you can try attaching a woodpecker nest box near or over the previous hole. Reflective tape, with one end left to blow in the wind, can discourage them as well though nothing is infallible.