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Feeding Birds

by Dee Walmsley


Hearing the birds sing and watching their antics brings joy to the hearts of many shut-ins and birders during the gloomy interval between winter and spring.

Weather wise, this can be a bad time of year, for both birds and people. Rainy days find humans warm and cozy in their homes, while birds puff up their feathers and continue in their normal fashion, foraging for food, come rain or shine.

Feeders are often left empty by vacationing folks seeking sunnier locales, or forgotten in the rain where they become soaked and moldy. These wet feeders are breeding grounds for fungus spores that kill birds. Wooden feeders, unless hung in a dry location, are the worst offenders. The seed, when wet, mildews and rots, causing salmonella, which, in turn, infects the birds - mainly pine siskins. Each year thousands of birds die from this disease.

By following a few prevention tips, you can foil the disease and continue to enjoy feeding the birds.

- Keep wooden feeders dry [try hanging under eaves].  In wet weather, change the feeders often, bringing them into the house to dry thoroughly.

- Use Duroid shingles on feeder-roofs and trays. The shingles will not absorb the water.

 - Use plastic feeders and fill daily. Measure out an amount of seed that will be consumed in one day; this will keep the seed dry and fresh and leave no extra food available for rats.

- Clean ground under feeders daily as some species will not use feeders but are ground-feeding birds. You might try using a tarp or board under the feeder to catch falling seeds.

- Bleach all feeders with a 10% solution each week. Rinse well; dry completely before refilling.

- Do not mix seed; use separate feeders. This will eliminate the birds chucking out the seeds they do not want.

Be consistent.  The birds rely on you, so donít let the feeders go empty. Remember, birds are territorial and will return year after year to your feeder.



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