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Fix feeding challenges

Along with the enjoyment of bird feeding often comes some challenges. 

Here are solutions to the most common problems birders face at the feeder:

No birds?

Keep in mind that during spring and summer many birds’ diets shift to the many natural, abundant food sources. During fall and winter it may take time for birds to find a feeding station. However, once the first bird does the word will spread quickly.

Temporary loss of birds at a feeder can be caused by the presence of a hawk, a cat, or by stale, low-quality or moldy birdseed.

Discouraging Squirrels and Cats

Squirrel baffles (usually domes that fit over the feeder) will help protect the seed in your feeders from squirrels.  Also, mounting your feeder on a pole away from any potential launching pad will keep squirrels, cats, raccoons, and other uninvited guests off your feeders.

Alternatively, offer some ears of corn or other specially-designed critter food far away from your feeders.

Night Marauders

Are your feeders emptying out overnight? Feed only as much seed as can be eaten by your birds during a single day and you’ll discourage nocturnal visits from raccoons, opossum, flying squirrels and deer.

Blackbirds, Pigeons

Use small tube feeders with short perches that only small birds can access, or consider removing “feeder hogs” preferred food from the menu. For blackbirds, pigeons, and doves, limit cracked corn and mixed seed; for crows, limit suet, peanuts, cracked corn, and table scraps.

Hawks at Feeders

If a hawk attacking birds at your feeder is bothering you, try taking your feeder down for awhile to see if the hawk will find new hunting grounds.

Sick Birds at Feeders

Sick birds often show up at feeders, desperate for an easy meal, and they usually succumb to their illness within a short while. Contact your local wildlife officials about any sick birds you see at your feeders. If you find a dead bird, avoid making direct contact with it (wear gloves or use a plastic bag to pick it up), and bury it or discard it in the trash. In either case, clean your feeders thoroughly and halt your feeding for a few weeks to allow the healthy birds to temporarily disperse.

If your problem isn’t cover here chances are this comprehensive FAQ on birding addresses it.

*Sources: Bill Thompson, III, editor of Bird Watcher’s Digest and The Backyard Birds Newsletter and the Great Backyard Bird Count.