We’ve changed our clocks giving us that extra hour of daylight, and spring officially arrives next Monday. Even though winter hasn’t been too bad this year, the majority of us are all looking forward to spring. Spring also invites beautiful songbirds as migration progresses through the coming months. The red-winged blackbirds always lead the way along with the grackles and brown-headed cowbirds.
There are plenty of things we can do to welcome our feathered friends back to our yards and gardens. Decide which feeders are going to attract the species you enjoy and set aside some time to give them a good cleaning. You can do this by adding 1 part bleach or vinegar to 9 parts hot water. Wash all parts of the feeder, don’t forget about the roof, perches and feeding portals. If some of these parts are hard to access, cleaning brushes come in handy. Rinse the feeder thoroughly and let it air dry thoroughly before filling.
Over the years, we have had customers ask us if there is a way to deter large birds such as Grackles so the small birds can feed without being chased away. This is possible by removing any hopper, flythrough, or platform feeders offering a sunflower mix. Safflower seeds can be added to one of these to accommodate cardinals, house finches and rose-breasted grosbeaks. Nyjer feeders with small openings will also discourage large birds while attracting our goldfinches and indigo buntings. Fine sunflower hearts, nyjer seed or our finch and friends mix can be offered in these feeders.
Caged feeders are also available in different styles and sizes for seed and suet. You can continue to offer sunflower seeds/hearts in the seed feeders, and a variety of suet in the caged suet feeders. Don’t worry about hairy and red-bellied woodpeckers, they can feed from caged suet feeders with their long tongues.
Birdhouses should also be cleaned before nesting season begins. You may need to partially take the house apart with a screwdriver if there isn’t easy access for cleaning. Remove any old nesting material or debris from the feeder. You can use the same formula for cleaning feeders, or if you have a wooden house, it may be easier to clean with a mild dish detergent rinsing well with hot water. Check the inside of the house for splinters or loose hinges to prevent any injuries to nestlings and their parents. Make sure the birdhouse is completely dry before mounting or hanging.
You can also leave nesting material out for the birds. This is easy to do because natural is best. Before raking up the lawn and cleaning up the garden, collect small twigs, leaves, pine needles, moss, strips of bark and plant fluff. These items can be left in small piles in the corners of your yard, or hung inside of suet cages for the birds to collect. Please do not put dryer lint out for them as it could contain fragrance or chemicals from dryer sheets.
This is also the time to change old window alerts and replace them with new ones. This will prevent bird strikes and help birds navigate safely through our neighbourhoods. Last, and certainly not least, please keep your feline friends inside. Cats don’t need to kill birds to survive, we feed our pets with food choices to suit their special needs.
Enjoy the return of spring with all it has to offer. Take time to listen for different bird songs, the silence of our winter months are over!
Urban Nature Store Brand Ambassador