If you’re going to give bird feeding a try for the first time, the first thing you’ll need is a bird feeder. There are a lot of them out there to choose from so how do you make sure you’re getting the right kind? Here are a few feeders to consider.
Both of the feeders shown above will certainly hold and dispense bird seed and would be perfectly fine in a world without squirrels. These two feeders and any like them are what I call ‘squirrel fodder’. It’s a fact of life that feeding the wild birds attracts squirrels. What kind of feeder is there that can discourage squirrels?
Here are three that I call ‘squirrel excluder feeders’
These feeders (and there are others like them) use the weight of the squirrel on the perch to move gates that cover the feeding ports. Small wild birds aren’t heavy enough to activate the mechanism but squirrels are. This can be quite effective, and I like the one in the middle because it holds a lot of bird seed. There’s another type off feeder that I like (indeed I own and use one) that I call ‘impossible’ feeders.
A feeder that’s impossible for squirrels
This is a feeder made in America by Droll Yankee. They call it the Yankee Dipper. On the left is a new one and on the right is the one I’ve used for several years. Why do I like this feeder so much?
Large capacity: The more your feeder holds, the less often you’ll need to fill it. This is something you’ll appreciate during the coldest days of winter. The Yankee Dipper holds 5 lbs. of seed.
Easy to disassemble: A feeder that comes apart easily is easier to clean.
Simple and effective squirrel control: The Yankee Dipper is long enough so squirrels can’t reach the feeding ports when hanging by their rear legs from the top of the feeder. Yes, the reach of a squirrel was researched when they designed this feeder. The perches at the feeding ports are spring loaded. They are strong enough to support perching birds but dip down under the weight of a squirrel.
The only damage the squirrels have done the my Yankee Dipper is to the metal lid. Not bad for 8 years on the job. I should be able to get another 20 years out of this feeder.
To get the most enjoyment out of wild bird feeding make sure you invest in a good bird feeder. It is better to buy a good one that the squirrels can’t destroy than to keep replacing cheaper ones…in the long run a good feeder is less expensive and you also get the satisfaction of watching squirrels slide off the feeder without getting a snack.
For those of us that already own a bird feeder, now is the time to get it all cleaned up for the season. This is why you shoud get a feeder that disassembles easily. Mine comes apart with just four small screws.
Clean your feeder one a month to keep wild birds healthy
We need to keep the feeders clean to keep the birds healthy. In the wild bird, diseases can’t spread easily from bird to bird since the food is spread all around and the birds have little common contact. The feeder attracts all the birds to only a few feeding ports so it is important to keep those ports clean. They are all eating from the same plate so to speak so is best to keep that plate clean.
After the feeder is apart, wash it in very hot soapy water. Pay close attention to the inside and outside of the feeding port since this is where diseases can be spread from bird to bird. An old toothbrush can come in handy. After it is clean, soak all the feeder’s parts in a mix of 1 part chlorine bleach to 10 part water. This will kill any germs. Let it dry thoroughly and reassemble. Now you’re all set to fill it up.