Spring cleaning isn’t just a chore for the indoors – there’s much to be done outdoors as well! Below is a checklist every birder should follow as they prepare for the return of spring and summer birds.
1. Inspect your feeders and houses
Before the excitement of spring has you filling your feeders and clearing away winter debris from your yard, be sure to inspect your feeders and houses for any damage. The winter weather can cause wear and tear on feeders and houses and things like snags, cracks or exposed nails can be a danger for birds.
Start by doing a visual inspection. Check for insect damage, particularly with wood houses. Cracks from insect damage or weather can let rain into your feeders and houses, and wet seed may rot. Rotting seeds may spread disease amongst your backyard birds, and no one wants that. Make sure to check feeding perches and ports for stability as well. Some issues can be easily fixed and repaired, but for larger cracks or troubles you want to consider investing in new feeders for the health and well-being of your birds.
2. Clean out bird feeders
Ideally, you should clean out your feeders whenever you refill them. When cleaning feeders and houses, the first step is to give them a thorough washing with soap and water. After being scrubbed with soap, feeders should be rinsed or submerged in a 10% bleach solution to disinfect. If you cannot submerge your feeder, put the bleach solution in a spray bottle and just make sure to give special attention to any nooks and crannies you can’t scrub. Feeder should also be left to air dry completely before refilling; this is especially true of wooden houses.
3. Clean but don’t clear out your backyard
Rake up twigs, branches and leaves in your yard. It’s important to clean your yard but don’t get rid of essential elements for birds’ nests. Pay particular attention to the spot underneath your feeder. Be sure to keep this area free from overspill and debris that can either attract unwanted pests or be unhealthy for your grass when left too long. If the ground beneath your feeder is smooth, a broom will do the trick. An outdoor vacuum cleaner is always a great follow up after sweeping or raking the area. If your yard can handle it, hose down the area under your feeders as well. You can discard spilled seed and debris into your compost if you like.
4. Make good food decisions
Now that you’ve set up your feeders for success, it’s time to fill them! For spring, offer fruit and baked and crushed eggshells along with the right seed. You may think since it’s spring, the birds have many more options for finding food, but in reality they are likely very hungry from the flight back home. And with spring also being reproduction season, they could surely use some extra energy and nutrients.
For best results in the spring, try fruit blends found in Armstrong Persistence, Armstrong Brilliance, and Armstrong Pure. And since the finches are back for the summer also consider using Nyjer Seed, Favourite Finch, and Gold Standard for beautiful sightings.
Now it’s time to take in the sights and sounds of spring with the homecoming of many of Canada’s beautiful birds! What are you hoping to see in your backyard this spring?