Learn about 10 common backyard birding mistakes from Kaytee and Blain’s Farm & Fleet.
Attracting wild birds to your yard is a great way to get in touch with nature – and it’s pretty entertaining, too! However, there are some common mistakes that can prevents birds coming to your feeders. To get the most out of your feeders and birdseed, Kaytee experts have 10 common backyard birding mistakes you need to avoid.
1. Not Providing Running Water
Birds want food and water from your backyard. Provide water along with the bird feed for a one-stop shop. Use a birdbath or a add a water feature to your backyard pond. You can put in a fountain, too. Even in the winter, birds still need a water source. To keep the water from freezing in the winter, use a heated birdbath.
2. Not Cleaning Bird Feeders
If you’re using dry seed, you need to give your feeders a monthly cleaning. Hummingbird and oriole nectar feeders should be cleaned weekly. Regular cleaning can help prevent bacteria from growing, which is harmful to birds. In wet or snowy months, feeders should be cleaned more often. Use hot soapy water to get rid of mold, fungi and bacteria.
3. Not Changing Out Seed
Birdseed should be changed out regularly if the birds don’t eat it all. For dry feeders, change the seed every 5-7 days (you can change it the same day you clean it) to avoid bacteria, mold and bugs in the feeder. Keeping fresh, clean seed is important for attracting birds.
4. Not Feeding Birds in the Winter
Birds need a reliable food source all year long – but especially in the winter. For the birds that stick around, you can provide seed for them during a time where natural food sources are scarce. Birds need more protein during the cold months, so put out suet or a fruit and nut blend to give them the energy to stay warm.
5. Using Dye in Your Hummingbird Feeders
For hummingbirds, use clear nectar with a red hummingbird feeder. The red dye can actually be harmful to hummingbirds, so you can safely feed them with a clear nectar. You can even make a sugar water they’ll enjoy. There are also specific flowers you can plant to attract hummingbirds. Read through more tips on attracting hummingbirds to your backyard here.
6. Not Providing Shelter
Birds need natural shelter from shrubs, trees and bushes. This gives them somewhere to feel protected from predators and relax after a long flight. Don’t keep the feeders too close to the trees and shrubs – otherwise, pesky critters will have easy access to the feeders.
7. Keeping Bird Feeders Too Close to Your House
Don’t put the bird feeders too close to your house. Give birds plenty of space to fly in from above to land at the feeders. If you keep the feeders too close to a window or your house, they could potentially injure themselves by flying into a window. Birds also don’t want to be near people and view them as predators.
8. Not Targeting Birds You Want to See
If there are specific bird species you want to see, make sure you research their favorite types of seed and food sources. This way you can target those birds in your region. Our Wild Bird Care blog has plenty of ways of attracting birds such as bluebirds, orioles and cardinals.
9. Feeding Bread to Birds
Wild birds need the right nutrition and a healthy diet. Bread does not provide anything other than empty calories for their small stomachs. Birds get their energy from bugs, nuts and fruits. Provide birds with a balanced diet of protein-packed seed, such as suet and nut-based mixes.
10. Not Having Birdhouses or Nesting Areas
Besides shelter from predators, birds also need somewhere to mate and nest. Birdhouses, along with shrubs and trees, are great for nesting birds in the springtime. Most birds return to the same nesting spot, so if you make it a good one you’ll have birds for years to come. You can even use birdhouses made for specific species like wrens and bluebirds.