Now that warmer daytime temperatures have melted away much of the snow from around our yards, there is some spring maintenance that needs to be done to ensure the health of your backyard birds. Feeders should be cleaned regularly throughout the year, but spring is when they can be the dirtiest. Each of your feeders should be cleaned inside and out, with all parts being washed including perches, seed ports, seed reservoirs, lids, and platforms. Poles, baffles and hooks should be cleaned of any feces that has collected over winter too.
Dirty feeders contain bacteria that not only is unattractive to birds can also be deadly. Mold and diseases can be found in spoiled seed and feces; which can quickly spread throughout your backyard birds, destroying the population. Future generations of birds are also affected, by the potential loss of one or both members of a nesting pair.
Old seed and feces should be scraped or brushed off of feeders. Specialty brushes are available from your local seed retailer or an old putty knife and toothbrush can be used. Eco-friendly dish detergent and water can be used to wash the entire feeder after brushing to kill any bacteria. Rinse the feeder thoroughly with fresh water, then the feeder air dry completely before filling and rehanging. Any moisture left in the feeder will just cause the fresh seed to go moldy.
Clean the area underneath your feeders also. Spoiled seed, shells and feces should all be raked up, again to remove any disease and bacteria from negatively affecting the health of your birds. Rotting seeds and shells can produce a foul odor which can attract unwanted visitors such as rats and raccoons to your feeder.
If nest boxes were not cleaned last fall, now is the time. Remove all old nesting material and dispose of it in a garbage bag. This material can attract rodents, fungus, mites and other diseases, so reusing it is not healthy or attractive for the birds. Visually check the condition of each box. If any nails, screws or other parts are loose or damaged, now is the time to fix them. Make sure the entrance and all vents holes are clear. If any of your roost boxes have reversible fronts that convert them into nest boxes, now is the time to switch those too.
These few simple tasks this spring will ensure that your backyard continues to attract and maintain a healthy population of birds.