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The bird feeder mess from the fallen bird seed kills the grass or plants depending on where I put the bird feeder.
The seeds germinate and grow, or the squirrels trample everything as they eat from the fallen food on the ground.
I have a squirrel proof feeder so the squirrels eating from the feeder isn't the problem, the birds drop a lot of seed!
Thank you for bringing this aggravating and discouraging situation up so others can learn how to solve this problem too.
1. Purchase a better quality bird seed. Even if you are using one type of seed such as black oil sunflower. It could be that the seed is low quality. When the birds open the shell from low quality seed it is often empty or the seed is immature. This results in the birds scooping out seed looking for ones that are filled with mature nut-meat inside.
The best seed is often used for human consumption. Then some food processors will sell the under-developed seed as bird seed.
2. If you are purchasing a low quality mixed blend of bird seed, then there is likely to be milo, red millet, wheat, barley, and oats etc., in the mix which are all seeds that very few backyard birds will eat, if any at all. So the shoveling process of seed onto the ground goes on, while the wild birds are looking for one they prefer to eat. Making a big mess on the ground below!
The solution to the above 2 problems is to always buy good quality seed. The extra expense will soon be made up with far less waste.
And if you are purchasing good quality mixed seed then the seeds that backyard birds don't eat will not be in your good quality mixed seed bag.
Once you have solved the problem of poor seed and are committed to a better quality product you will notice a big difference in the amount of seed that falls to the ground. Any debris that does fall will be shells which the wild birds will not be able to eat.
If this is still a problem and something that you do not want to deal with there are two things you can do.
3. Seed catching trays attach under the feeder and all the seed that is thrown from the feeder will fall into the tray, avoiding all that bird feeder mess on the ground. It also provides a flat surface for wild birds like Mourning Doves to eat, who normally cannot feed from a feeder with perches. This way the mess is in the tray where it gets another chance to be eaten and much easier for you to cleanup.
4. Sunflower seed hulls contain a toxin which prevents some other plants from growing. This may be the reason you notice that the ground is bare under your feeder and plants do not grow.
Sunflower seeds are not alone either, there are other plants that do the same thing, like black walnuts. This is the way these plants deal with reducing competition for growing space.
This is called allelopathy:
To reduce the hulls of sunflower seed killing off plants under your bird feeders us a leaf vacuum on a regular basis.
This will also reduce the problem of disease caused by bird droppings under your bird feeder.
Vacuum and rake the area directly affected under your feeding stations on a regular basis and you will have a much tidier and more bird cleanly area.
5. Install a concrete patio or use paving bricks or flagstone to build a patio for the birds. This will make it easy for the ground feeding birds to graze on the fallen seed and much easier for you to keep clean.
If you maintain the ground under your feeders in a healthy condition then ground feeding birds like Cardinals, Finches, Mourning Doves, Juncos, Sparrows etc., will have a place to feed. This will relieve the congestion at your bird feeders too.
Hope this helps to solve your bird feeder "mess-mending problem and easier for you to manage.