Importance of Cleaning
There are probably as many types of bird feeders as there are types of birds. Some are fancy, some are practical, but all will do the job of feeding the birds. What you need to determine is which one is right for you. No matter what model you decide on, the most important questions that need to be answered are:
- How easy is it to clean?
- How well does it protect my seed from the elements?
Too many feeders sold today are difficult to clean, resulting in dirty feeders with wet, rancid seed in them. Ask yourself, "Would I eat off a dirty plate?"
If your answer is no, then why should the birds?
Here on the West Coast it is even more important to have feeders that you can clean because of the rain. Wet seed leads to mold in your feeders, which then helps spread disease throughout your backyard birds. And if your birds are already under stress, whether due to cold weather or nesting season, the results can be devastating.
Sometimes the easiest way to keep your feeder clean is with the use of the many accessories, like domes and feeder fresh, that are available in our stores. Proper cleaning and protection from the elements will keep your birds healthy and happy.
Now that you have your new feeder, it is time to accessorize!
Most feeders will benefit from the addition of domes and trays. Domes are important to keep the rain off (no west coast feeder should be without one!) and, depending on the size of dome and feeder, can also act as a squirrel deterrent. You can get the domes in several sizes with either a top slit (to slide over the top of feeders) or with a hook to hang feeders from. You can also purchase them for hummingbird feeders. These help keep both the sun (possibly prolonging the life of your solution) and the rain out of your feeders.
Keeping the ground underneath clean of seeds and debris is important for the health of your birds. Trays accomplish this well. Some feeders, like Aspects, allow you to attach a tray directly to the tube feeder. For most other feeders, we recommend Seed Hoops. Seed hoops are a plastic mesh tray that is suspended by adjustable ropes below the feeder. Very easy to clean! They come in 16", 24" and 30".
Feeder Fresh is a non toxic, fine sand that you add to both your seed and bird feeder. This works to absorb moisture that enters your feeder from rain, humidity, and condensation - in other words, a typical year on the coast! This product, by keeping the seed drier, keeps any dangerous mould and toxins from affecting your birds.
No matter what feeder you have, it is important to keep it clean. One of the best ways to do this is with a long handled brush that cleans the hardest to reach places. Hummingbird feeders need a shorted handled brush, but also need small brushes to clean the feeder ports.
It is not just hummingbirds that like the sweet sugar solution! Ants, wasps, and bees all would like to use your hummingbird feeder as well. Ants can be deterred with an ant trap: a plastic dish that traps and drowns them while they are on their way into the feeder. You can also make it difficult for bees or wasps to become a problem. We recommend using Aspects high-top, decorative, or window feeders as you can use Nectar Guard Tips with these ones. The Nectar Guard Tips are a soft plastic sleeve with a small slit. They fit over the small "knobs" on the inside of the feeder. The long tongue of the hummers will push through but insects are too large and stay out.
Cleanliness is always important when you are offering birds food, water or shelter. But using toxic chemicals, such as bleach, is not always desirable unless you are dealing with a widespread illness like salmonella. Cleaners are now available that use organic components to clean away parasites, bird droppings and other organic contaminates that affect the health of our birds. Simply spray and clean as normal (always follow the instructions on the bottle for the correct procedure). You can also add a similar solution to your bird baths to remove algae, bird droppings, etc.