8 Common Bird Feeder Mistakes You Might Be Making (and How to Fix Them)

Wild birds such as finches, robins and cardinals are a fascinating part of many gardens and landscapes. They are so much fun to watch, especially when you pull them out to your yard with a squirrel proof bird feeder so you can get a closer look. The flocks you’ll see congregating at the feeders change with the seasons, but their lively antics will be a constant pleasure. Attracting wild birds is usually easy. However, there are some common mistakes that can frustrate, injure, or even kill birds, undermining your well-intentioned efforts. Make sure to avoid the following bird feeding traps so you can keep your winged visitors healthy and happy year-round.
1. Not enough variety
To encourage the greatest diversity of birds in your yard, use a variety of feeders. Tube feeders, platform feeders, suet feeders, fruit feeders, and nectar feeders are some of the most common types and will satisfy a wide variety of bird visitors. The small songbird feeders attached to the windows are especially fun; you can observe visitors up close without disturbing them. Make sure the feeder has no corners or crevices where birds can get stuck.
2. Infrequent cleaning procedures
Feeders should be thoroughly cleaned at least every two weeks, and more frequently in wet weather. With hummingbird feeders, mold and bacteria can grow rapidly in the sugar water solutions they use, which can make birds sick. Clean these feeders at least once a week, or more often if the nectar looks cloudy. Scrub all parts with a bottle brush in hot soapy water, followed by a mild bleach or vinegar solution, then rinse thoroughly and dry.
3. Using Poor Quality Seeds
Buying cheap seed, or not storing it properly can lead to some serious problems. Two favorite seeds for wild birds are black oil or striped sunflower, and white millet. Use the freshest seeds possible (not last year’s leftovers), and always keep stored seeds dry.
4. The feeder is empty
Birds seem to know quickly where their next meal will come from and will return to well-stocked feeders time and time again. But if the feeder is left empty for long periods of time, the birds will look elsewhere.
5. Forget water
Birds seek water to drink and bathe in, so water basins placed near feeders will attract more birds to the area. It is very important to change the water regularly to keep it fresh and clean. In the winter, you can use a basin heater to keep it from freezing. Never use antifreeze, it can be fatal to birds.
6. Poor feeder placement
Places that birds prefer to roost, such as the branches of trees or shrubs, until they are ready to turn at the feeder. But don’t place the feeder under a sturdy tree branch that can be used by cats, as they may wait for unsuspecting birds.
7. Use of harmful pesticides
Even sublethal pesticide exposure can harm birds by disorienting them during migration, reducing their ability to maintain body weight and reducing their ability to avoid predators.
8. Allow outdoor cats
The American Bird Conservancy says outdoor cats are the single largest source of anthropogenic (human-induced) mortality in birds.
So keep these feeders clean, filled with good seeds, and in a protected location. Then, sit back and enjoy the show!

bird feeder