Wild Bird Questions
Wild Bird Questions
Q. What do I do about all the seed on the ground?
A. 1. Many seeds have hulls that the birds crack open. They eat the meat and then drop the hulls – Sunflowers, Nyger, Safflowers. To prevent this mess either put a catch tray under the feeder or buy seed that has already been shelled.
A. 2. Check your seed mixture. If the mixture contains a lot of milo or millet many birds will simply drop this seed to the ground. In general, the cheaper the mix, the more waste you will have. Try purchasing a waste free mix such as Total Quisine or Nut N Berry mix.
A. 3. Cook your wild bird seed at 100 degrees for twenty minutes to prevent the seed from germinating. This doesn’t reduce the amount of seed on the ground but it does prevent ‘weeds’ next spring.
Q. How much will birds eat?
A. Birds have a very high metabolic rate and have a body temperature of 109 degrees. They need to eat constantly in order to maintain energy for cold winter weather. Some birds will consume more than their body weight every day.
Q. Will bird’s feet stick to metal perches in winter?
A. No, Birds do not have sweat glands in their feet so they will not stick to metal surfaces.
Q. What about moths and insects in the bird seed?
A. Birds love them! Since wild bird seed is not a high priority seed for many companies, it is not cleaned as thoroughly as other food products. Wild Bird Seed is often stored in warehouses that are hot and perfect to breed meal moths, weevil and other seed loving insects. Unfortunately there is not an easy way to keep insects out of Wild Bird Seed. The only real caution about Wild Bird Seed is not to store it near your other foods. These moths will migrate from wild bird seed to Wheaties, Cornflakes and your brand new flour.
If you don’t like these unwanted additions in your wild bird seed try to buy fresh, high quality seed in clear plastic bags. Make sure there are no insects already in the bird seed. You can store your seed in air tight containers, in cold areas of the garage or shed, or inside your freezer. We, at J&L, try to keep our wild bird seed in the freezer during the hot summer months, and in a cold warehouse during the winter, to reduce the amount of these insects. However, they still find their way into our Wild Bird Seed occasionally.
Q. When To Feed Birds?
A. It is best to provide food all year long. Especially important is February through August, when natural grasses and fruit bearing trees are not mature and birds are nesting and producing young. During the winter months, it is often difficult for birds and wildlife to find adequate food sources.
Q What About Water?
A. Clean fresh water should be provided at all times. During winter months water sources are often frozen. A birdbath with a water heater will supply all outdoor pets, including wild birds with needed water. During the summer, drinking and bathing water is important for birds.
Q. Constant Food Source?
A. Once you start providing food for wild birds, make sure to keep your feeders full all the time. Birds will constantly return to feeders.
Q. How Will Birds Find My Feeders?
A. Birds find food by sight. Place feeders in easily seen areas. Be patient and the birds will come. To have many birds on a frequent basis can take a year or two, depending on your geographical area and the migration patterns of the birds. Birds are constantly searching for food sources. If you don’t seem to be attracting birds, make sure you have the right food. If you purchase inexpensive mixes containing a lot of milo, millet and corn, you may not attract the more desirable songbirds. If you have a good food available and still are not attracting birds, try tying a piece of tin foil on top of the feeder. A little glint from this foil will catch their eye. Open water will sometimes attract birds more than a bird feeder.
Q. How Much Will The Birds Eat?
A. Songbirds have a very high metabolic rate and a body temperature of 109 degrees. They need to eat constantly in order to store up energy for cold winter periods and they need to eat frequently in summer months to burn off excess heat. Some birds will consume more than their body weight on a daily basis.
Q. Insect and Fruit Eaters?
A. During the winter months, birds such as woodpeckers, wrens, bluebirds and others have a more difficult time finding food sources. Providing wild bird food that contains nutmeats and real fruit (not just fruit flavor) is important. Birds in urban areas often have trouble finding insects.
Q. Do I Need Trees, Shrubs, and Flowers?
A. Many birds prefer to have cover from shrubs and trees. Cardinals, for example, prefer low thick shrubs and will come to feeders that provide this cover. Flowers are important for attracting the nectar eaters such as orioles and hummingbirds.
Q. Will Squirrels Ruin My Feeders?
A. No matter how hard you try, squirrels will come to bird feeders. If you use inexpensive plastic feeders, squirrels can damage these feeders. There are other feeders and baffles available that discourage squirrels. Remember that squirrels need food too and that is why they visit the feeders. Keep squirrel food in an area away from your bird feeders and often the squirrels will stay away.
Q. Will Bird’s Feet Stick To Metal Perches In Winter?
A. No. Birds have no sweat glands in their feet so they will not stick to metal surfaces.
Q. Why Don’t Birds Eat?
A1. Replace the seed. Seeds with high oil content (sunflowers, safflower, nuts, Nyjer) can go rancid if stored too long or stored in a hot warehouse.
A2. Check your feeder. It may be contaminated. Wash it thoroughly.
A3. Check to make sure that your feeder is not easily accessible by predators such as cats. Birds will figure this out and avoid your feeder.
A4. Examine your seed mixture. If you are attracting all the wrong birds, you are probably using the wrong seed mixture.
A5. The feeder could be plugged due to wet clumping seed from rain or snow.
Q. What Do I Do About All The Seed On The Ground Under The Feeder?
A1. Many seeds have hulls that the birds break open. They eat the meat out and then drop the hull. If you feed whole sunflowers, Nyjer, safflower, etc. you will have hulls on the ground unless you use a catch tray under the feeder.
A2. Check your seed mixture. If the mixture contains a lot of milo, millet or corn, many songbirds will simply drop this seed to the ground and search out the sunflowers and other desirable foods. To avoid this waste, use better mixes with less millet, milo and corn or use a waste free mix such as Total Cuisine or Nut N’ Berry. In general, the less expensive the mix, the more waste you will have.
Q. Will Suet Go Bad In The Summer?
A. When you purchase suet make sure to purchase brands that indicate “all year” or brands that say “suet dough.” These usually do not get rancid or melt in summer heat.
Q. What about Moths, Worms and Insects in the birdseed?
A. Indian meal moths and other insects lay their eggs in various seeds and grains. While they may not be appealing to you, these little insects and moths are harmless and are part of nature. In fact, many birds love them and thrive on these small insects. If they are a bother to you, freeze your seed and they will disappear. To avoid having these moths and insects hatch, buy seed in smaller quantities so it will be used up faster. Store your seed in the refrigerator or freezer to prevent the eggs from hatching.
Q. I See Birds At My Feeder But They Take A Seed and Fly Away?
A. Some birds such as Blue Jays and Nuthatches take seeds from the feeder and then go to a different spot to crack open the seed and eat the kernel or will hide seeds for later use. They will hide these seeds in cracks in trees and other places so they will have something to eat in the winter.
Q. How can I prevent diseases that kill wild birds?
A1. Four diseases are commonly spread through bird feeders: salmonellosis; trichomoniasis, aspergillosis, and avian pox. These diseases can be minimized by using sound bird feeding sanitation practises.
A2. Give birds plenty of room so they don’t have to come in direct contact with each other: put another bird feeder in another part of the yard.
A3. Clean your feeder and the droppings on the perch each time you fill it: direct contact with infected bird droppings is the most common way birds spread diseases to each other.
A4. Disinfect your bird feeder with chlorine bleach two or three times each year.
A5. Keep rodents out of the food; mice can carry some bird diseases.
Q. How can I keep seeds from germinating under the bird feeder?
A. Bake your wild bird seeds at 200 degrees fahrenheit for about 1 hour. This will kill the seeds but the seeds will still remain nutrious for the birds.