It’s time to think about cleaning up the garden for fall. While doing this you can create a good haven for birds to help them through the fall and winter months. After raking the leaves, place some in piles under shrubs or bushes for our foraging birds who are looking for bugs. After cleaning up fallen branches, assemble a small brush piles in the corners of your yard for birds to take shelter from inclement weather and predators. Leaving flowers with seed heads is also good for the birds, they can be cut back in the spring.
This is also the time to take the feeders in for a good cleaning. You can use 1 part bleach to 9 parts hot water, or a mixture of vinegar and water. Always rinse very well and allow to air dry outside. Bird houses also need to be cleaned out to allow birds to roost in the cold winter months. The houses can be brushed out, washed and left to air dry as well. Position the bird house so the opening isn’t facing in the direction of prevailing winds. It’s wise to check to see if any feeders or houses are in need of repair. Check for loose screws or perches and tighten everything up. Have a look on the ground under the feeders and discard any old seed that may have accumulated over the summer months.
You may also want to consider adding a few more feeders for the winter. Platform feeders are easy for birds to access and easy for us to maintain. If you’re using clean seeds such as sunflower hearts and peanut halves there will be no wastage of shells in the feeder. These seeds are rich in oil and high in calories which the birds will need as the days and nights get cooler. Avoid buying a bird seed that is full of filler seeds such as red milo. The birds will just discard this. Platform feeders can be easily cleaned by brushing them out before refilling. If you decide you would like a large seed capacity feeder, we have plenty to choose from. Our Droll Yankees squirrel-proof feeders hold 5 pounds of seed. The Sky Cafe holds 7 pounds and the Grand Gazebo Feeder can hold 20 lbs.
Suet feeders are also a good idea to add in the fall if you haven’t used them in the summer months. Suet is high in fat and calories which helps the birds to stay warm. The greater variety of seeds you offer the more species of birds you will attract.
Bird baths are important to maintain during the fall and winter. If you don’t have a heated bird bath, a bird bath de-icer can be added. This will provide drinking water for the birds when natural sources freeze. Birds will also bath in the winter. This helps keep their feathers preened to prevent gaps as feather gaps will cause loss of body heat. Keep your bird bath bubblers or fountains going as long as you can. You might be able to attract some different birds to your yard during migration.
Please come and visit one of our locations if you have any questions about fall/winter bird feeding. Our staff will be happy to help meet all of your birding needs.
Author – Jane Paradis