Bird Feeding Questions

Learn how to clean Duncraft Haven feeders.

How do I clean Selective and Haven Feeders?188G_zoom
Our Duncraft Selective and Haven caged feeders are not designed to be taken apart for cleaning. If seed has become compacted within the tube, soaking the feeder in a bucket with a mild soap will help to loosen the seed so it can be brushed or hosed out. To learn more, visit Duncraft’s Wild Bird Blog for our article on how to clean and disinfect feeders: Cleaning bird feeders

How do I clean a bird house?
Nests should be removed from bird houses as soon as the fledglings leave. Baby birds don’t return to the nest once they have left the bird house. Sometimes birds will reuse a nest, but not often. They prefer to build a new one. Removing the nest also ensures that any parasites from the former brood aren’t transferred to the next one. After removing the nest you can scrub out the box with a mild bleach solution, using one part bleach to 10 parts water. If you have opened the box to clean it, leave it open until it’s dry inside before you close it up again.

Which seed attracts the most birds?
If you are only going to offer one type of seed, offer black oil sunflower seeds.  They are the most loved by all seed-eating backyard birds. If you want to offer a mix, make sure that the majority of seeds are black oil seeds. Two other types of foods you may want to introduce are suet and Nyjer seed.  Suet attracts both seed-eating and insect-eating birds and the Nyjer seed will attract finches.  Learn about different seeds in our article on the Top 10 Bird Seed Blends.

4250What type of bird house should I put up?
This can be a lengthy subject, but it really depends on the type of birds you see around your yard.  Birds can be fussy about the dimensions of the house they will occupy.  If you have chickadees and would like to encourage them to nest, don’t put up a bird house meant for bluebirds.  A bluebird house is too deep for tiny chickadees and they won’t use it. Duncraft has a complete guide to bird houses on our Wild Bird Blog. Our guide will tell you what size house for what bird, where to place the house and everything else you want to know. Just follow this link! Duncraft’s Guide to Bird Houses

Should l offer suet to my birds in the summer?
Be careful serving suet during the hot summer months. Suet turns rancid in the heat. If you want to still use a suet product, we recommend the no melt suet.  These have a higher grain and lower fat content; these are recommended for temperatures above 85 degrees and will not drip as ‘regular’ suets will.

What is the best feeder to use to attract certain birds – cardinals, chickadees, orioles, bluebirds etc?
Most small birds such as chickadees, nuthatches and titmice will enjoy a tube feeder– and when outfitted with a seed tray, larger birds will be able to land (and balance!) and enjoy as well. Cardinals feed easily from an easy-access platform feeder or fly-through feeder. You may attract orioles to your yard with an oriole nectar feeder and orange nectar. Orioles also enjoy grape and strawberry jellies as well as an oranges cut in half. Bluebirds like suet Nuggets™, fruits and mealworms, usually in an enclosed platform.

Will birdseed sprout on my lawn and garden?
Yes! Seed that includes the outer hull (especially black oil sunflower seeds) may sprout on your lawn or in the garden. The exception to this is Nyjer (also known as thistle) seed. Nyjer is not related to the invasive thistle plant in this country, so you don’t have to worry that spiny thistles will be growing in your yard.  Nyjer seed comes from Ethiopia and is heat treated after it arrives in the US so it can’t germinate.  If you don’t want sunflowers growing in your yard, use a no-waste seed blend, or sunflower hearts or chips.  This seed has had all the hulls removed and can’t sprout. Birds love it!

What’s the best way to keep squirrels away from my feeder?
Location, location, location! If at all possible, make sure that your feeder is located at least 10 feet from anywhere a squirrel can jump from, including buildings, trees, fences, etc.  with the bottom of the feeder at least 5 feet off the ground. This is the very best solution, but frequently not possible given our backyard configurations and where we want to see our birds. If squirrels can reach your feeder from above, defend it with a protective overhead baffle, properly installed. If squirrels can reach your feeder from below, that is, jumping up from the ground, you might want to put the feeder on a pole and then use a pole baffle to block access to the feeder. Some feeders are designed specifically to keep squirrels away from the bird food. You can find squirrel proof bird feeders at this link: Squirrel Proof bird feeders

How can I keep bees away from my hummingbird feeder?
Use a hummingbird feeder with bee guard so the bees can’t get into the nectar.

  • Try feeders that have no yellow in them. The color yellow could be attractive to bees.
  • If the “bees” are actually yellow jackets, a kind of wasp, you may be able to reduce the population with yellow jacket traps.
  • Move your hummingbird feeder to a very shady location. Bees prefer to eat in sunny areas and hummingbirds prefer to eat in shade. Distract bees with a saucer of nectar where the feeder used to be.
  • Make the nectar less sweet. Try 5 parts of water to 1 part sugar instead of the usual 4 parts water to one part sugar. The lighter sugar mixture is fine for hummingbirds.
  • After hanging with fresh nectar, be sure to clean off sugary drips or spills on the outside of the feeder so bees won’t be attracted to the  sugary scent.Never use insect-killing chemicals around hummingbird feeders! It’s bad for the hummingbirds and may also kill beneficial honey bees!

There’s a hawk killing birds at my feeder—what do I do?
When you feed birds, you get a lot of them congregating in one place, making an easy feeding ground for hawks.  The best thing to do is to take your feeders down so the birds disperse for while.  The hawk will go looking for another food source. As bird lovers, it’s only right that we don’t use our feeders to set up an easy place for our birds to be ambushed. If you still want to feed birds while the hawk is still around, (such as during a very bad winter day), sprinkle seeds under bushes or shrubs or at the edge of woods so the birds can eat while still being under cover.

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  • Mickey October 27, 2013 at 8:54 am

    Liked your article. Very informative.