Spring has sprung! After months of cold, white weather, the world is full of flowers blooming with life and vibrancy. These tips will help you get ready for spring bird feeding and the return of our favorite migrating birds.
Take your Spring Cleaning Outdoors
After an entire winter of feeding the birds, your feeders could probably use a good cleaning. After clearing your bird feeder of accumulated seed and debris, soak it in a 50/50 vinegar & water solution and scrub the entire feeder with a bird feeder cleaning brush to remove residue. Be sure the bird feeder dries completely before refilling so as not to get the seed wet. Rake up used seed hulls around your bird feeder, making sure the ground is free of debris.
Set up a Bird Bath
Keep water readily available so birds can stay hydrated and keep their feathers in peak flying shape. Fresh, clean water is a must-have for bird health, as some bird diseases can spread through contaminated water. It’s a good idea to replace the water every day or so and clean your bird bath two to three times per week, especially if it’s extremely popular with your local flock.
Help Mama Birds Prepare for Nesting Season
Offer crushed-up eggshells in a dish feeder to give birds that necessary calcium to make strong eggs and promote proper bone growth in nestlings. The more nutrition birds get, the more successful the nesting season will be!
Attract More Birds with Multiple Feeders
Spring is a time of abundance all around, including the variety of backyard birds, so don’t limit yourself to just one feeder or food! Give sweet treats to orioles and tanagers by offering fruit or jelly in a fruit feeder, suet cage, or dish feeder. Nyjer® (thistle) seed in tube feeders or finch socks encourages a flood of finches to visit your backyard. Mealworms—a favorite among bluebirds—placed in a small dish feeder will bring huge excitement to your backyard. Adding additional bird feeders increases available feeding space in your yard and attracts a wider variety of birds. If you currently use a tube feeder, try adding a platform or large hopper feeder to incorporate larger birds. Perhaps try a window feeder to bring the birds right up close.
Welcome Hungry Hummers Heading North
Do you have a nectar feeder for hummingbirds? If not, you’re likely missing out on these amazing birds! A hummingbird feeder full of energy-rich nectar provides endless hours of hummingbird watching as well as a helpful food source for hungry hummers. Hummingbirds actually lick the nectar—about 13 licks per second— instead of drinking from flowers and nectar feeders directly. Their tongues extend much longer than their beaks, so they are actually able to lick nectar beyond the reach of their beaks. Hummingbirds can eat anywhere from half to eight times their body weight in a single day! Both bottle- and saucer-style nectar feeders are suitable; fill with four parts water to one part white sugar (do not use honey or other types of sugar!).
Help Birds Nest with the Best
Offering nesting materials in spring is a great way to help birds raise a healthy new generation. Place nesting materials out in small piles near desirable nesting sites—in a clean suet cage or mesh bag or anywhere it’s easily accessible and won’t blow away or get wet. Some quality nesting materials you can offer include twigs and sticks, fallen leaves, grass clippings or dead grass (as long as it hasn’t been treated with pesticides), moss, straw, pet fur (as long as it hasn’t been flea-repellent treated), and cotton balls.
Garden with Native Plant Species
Consider planting specific species that birds in your area use in nest construction. For example, finches not only eat thistle seeds but will also use thistle plants for nest construction, even delaying their nesting until the thistle is in full bloom. Seed-producing flowers and plants are a welcome food source for birds such as towhees, sparrows, quail, finches, and doves. It’s best to use native plants in the course of your gardening because they are already adapted to your region’s climate and local birds are used to them already.
Keep Migrating Birds Safe from Pets & Threats
Help birds complete their migratory marathon by keeping them safe in your neck-of-the-woods. Keep cats inside so they can’t trap unsuspecting birds, and keep a watchful eye on dogs as they roam the yard. Don’t treat your garden with pesticides or buy pre-treated planting seeds, as these are harmful to birds and the native insects they depend upon for food. For hummingbirds and small songbirds, even trace pesticide levels in their food can be very harmful to their tiny bodies. Help prevent window strikes by making sure glass is visible to birds with window decals or protective film. These simple steps will go a long way in keeping birds safe and healthy!