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How to Overcome Bird Feeding Problems

"Understanding the problems,
brings backyard peace"

If you feed wild birds, at some point you will encounter problems.

We will look at some of the problems that can crop up from time to time and how they can be dealt with.

Sometimes there is more than one solution.

And sometimes one solution will work for one person and not another.

So don't be discouraged if your friend does something that works beautifully for them to solve a situation, but when you try it, you do not have the same success.

There are many different ways to approach a problem and one will work for you.

bird feeding problems

How Do Bird Feeding Problems Start?

The Invitation Is The Problem!

By hanging up a bird feeder, you have sent out an invitation to your neighbourhood wildlife.

“Come one, come ALL!”, is the call everyone hears!

All types of wild birds, gray squirrels, black squirrels, red squirrels, flying squirrels, rats, mice, skunks, raccoons and bears, respond to your generous invitation!

Then those guests invite, with their presence, other animals.

Such as birds of prey, feral cats and neighbour’s cats, who lurk about, waiting for the opportunity to have lunch too.

Did you imagine this is what you had done?

It certainly was not your intention, was it

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Who Are the Guests That Have Responded?

Understanding all the guests and knowing something about each one is important,

whether they are welcome guests or not.

But, it is a fact, that needs understanding, that all have been invited by putting out a bird feeder.

So you have to make your invitation specific if you don't want everyone showing up at the buffet!

Still not convinced you are the problem and the solution? Read here...

Let's learn how to graciously change the allure of your feeding stations.

But before we do that, there are other problems to deal with that have nothing to do with unwelcome visitors. There are problems seed itself brings, where to place feeders, and cleanliness. We will look at everything briefly here on this page and point to other pages where more information is available for a solution.

1. How to Stop Squirrels!

Learn how to keep squirrels out of your feeders and where you want them.

2. How to Stop Bird Seed Build Up Under Feeders?

How to stop the mess on the ground. Wild bird feeding can be messy business. A build up of seed can be unsightly and attract rodents.

There will always be some seed that gets tossed "over board", but it does not have to be a catastrophe.

3. Will a Nyjer (Or Thistle) Feeder Help to Fix Bird Feeding Problems?

american goldfinch pairA Pair Of American Goldfinches
Eating Nyjer Seed

A bird feeder that dispenses only nyjer (thistle) seed is very effective at deterring larger birds and squirrels. (Nyjer seed is a very small seed which requires a special feeder.)

Squirrels, Blackbirds and Starlings are not usually attracted to nyjer seed.

And if the nyjer feeder is a tube style feeder, the larger birds will not be able to sit on the feeder to eat, as it is unmanageable for them.

But it will attract Gold Finches by the dozens, Chickadees and Purple Finches.

Nyjer seed is also easy on the mess created under the feeder.

See Thistle/Nyjer Feeder Recommendations

on "All About Thistle Feeder Page" Here.

4. How can Tube Feeders Help Solve Some Bird Feeding Problems?

Tube feeders are difficult for larger birds to perch on and reach the feeding ports.

chickadees love tube feedersChicadees & Finches love tube feeders.

Tube feeders that have metal feeding ports and perches will prevent the squirrels from chewing the holes larger and chewing off the perches.

If larger pesky birds are managing to eat at a tube feeder and the perches are made of wood or plastic, then cut off the perches to about an inch and a half long.

This length is not long enough for them to perch on and will reduce bird feeding problems.

5. How can Feeders Designed for Small Birds Help?

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Small feeders make feeding very hard for larger birds.

Use a small bird feeder that only small clinging agile birds can use like Chickadees, small Woodpeckers, Finches and Nuthatches.

Larger birds find this type of bird feeder too difficult to manage.

Many larger birds are not good at clinging and eating.

The perches on small feeders often don't allow enough room for the larger birds to perch and eat comfortably.

So if a small feeder accompanies a larger one, the small birds have a place to go to eat in peace.

6. Upside-down Suet Feeders Make It Difficult for Some Birds

The underside of this feeder is a screen. It is the only surface a bird can eat from with this type of suet feeder and requires a lot of agility to eat from.

They allow only clinging birds to feed from them, such as Woodpeckers, Nuthatches, Chickadees, Brown Creepers and some Finches.

(Blackbirds and Starlings are not clinging birds and therefore find them a little harder to manage. Although I can't promise they won't be successful. ;))

7. Which Wild Birds Will Eat Safflower?

Most birds and squirrels do not like to eat safflower seed.

Safflower seed can be used in hopper style bird feeders.

Clean the feeder out well so there is no trace of other smells like peanuts or sunflower seeds and then fill with only safflower seed.

Cardinals, many types of Finches, including Grosbeaks, Chickadees, Nuthatches and Mourning Doves love it.

Try it and the critters you are trying to un-invite like squirrels and House Sparrows don't like it, bonus!

Starlings find it too hard to crack too, another bonus!

I have had good success keeping squirrels away using safflower seed, but found that some Blackbirds still would eat it.

8. Why Hot Peppered Seed Should Never Be Used?

You may find it surprising but this is why: Hot Peppered Seed Should Not be Used in Your Bird Feeder

This is a quote from Cornell Lab of Ornothology about using bird seed that has been mixed with hot pepper:

Squirrels (and other mammals) may be deterred from consuming birdseed treated with capsaicin, the chemical that makes peppers “hot.” Many commercial products are coated with capsaicin, but we are unaware of any research examining the effect of high doses of capsaicin on birds. Although capsaicin may not negatively affect wild birds, we discourage adding any products to bird foods that have not been thoroughly tested.

This is something to think about.

Most sites I read on the internet that support the use of hot peppered seed are selling it and therefore have a financial interest in encouraging its use.

Many people and animals eat foods that are harmful to them, but are unaware of its harm at the time of consumption.

9. How do Cage Feeders Help to Solve Bird Feeding Problems?

Cage feeders are a bird feeder surrounded by a wire cage with large enough openings for small birds.

Usually tube feeders, suet feeders and small hopper style feeders come in cages.

Larger birds like Starlings and Blackbirds, gray squirrels, flying squirrels. fox squirrels and black squirrels cannot fit through the openings to reach the bird seed.

No guarantees though for red squirrels! ;-)

My Top Recommendations for Caged Bird Feeders
 With Reviews & Gold Star Ratings

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   Variety of Caged Feeders Here  

10. Are Squirrels Your Problem? Then Feed Them Too!

Fill a special designated feeder, a platform feeder or tray feeder will work well, with cheap seed, like corn, red millet.

Once a day at the same time everyday, add a few peanuts in the shell, sunflower seeds and/or reduced baked goods.

This will attract all the greedy birds and squirrels to that feeder.

Place this feeder off by itself away from your other feeders, in an easy accessible location for them, preferably away from your favourite viewing area.

But read how one visitor to this site was pleasantly surprised by the result of the "pesty squirrels" visits. 

Love the site...

I am a bird feeding fanatic! 

Trudging in the brutal cold to fill my dozen (and growing) bird feeders during the winter to my wildflower garden with birds and butterflies in mind....I just love it. 

I also seem to fight with the squirrels that invade my black oil sunflower seed and make such a mess spilling them out of my feeders.  I usually get so angry but maybe there is a silver lining to the aggravation.

Not sure what made me look out the window but there on the ground in my front yard eating the seed on the ground was 3 wild turkey hens and 37 chicks.  What a thrill!

Charlotte USA

11. Bird Feeding Problems Created by Domesticated & Feral Cats!

Domestic cats pose bird feeding problems unto themselves.

Cats won’t eat the seed in the bird feeders, but they will kill the wild birds eating at the bird feeders that they can reach.

domestic cat problems

Or the birds eating on the ground.

They are attracted solely for the sport of hunting and so it is incumbent upon us, since we have attracted the feathered ones in the first place, to protect them from the felines we also keep as pets.

Read more to understand this particular problem The Number One Backyard Bird Predators are…?

12. Birds Of Prey Love That We Feed Songbirds, So What Can We Do?

Attracting wild birds to backyard bird feeders, can be like setting a table for predators like hawks.

Coopers HawkCoopers Hawk

Birds of Prey are doing what they need to do to survive.

There are things we can do to reduce the unfair advantage we have provided birds of prey, by attracting song birds to our feeders. Find out here.

But the fact that the table is set beside our house is a deterrent.

Also providing shelter close to your bird feeding station like a bush or shelter of some kind is important. This will give the songbirds a place to hide if necessary.

We have to understand to appreciate and respect the many ways animals survive.

13. Did You Know Snakes Love Eggs?

Snakes will not be a contributor to bird feeding problems but will be attracted to bird houses and nests to eat the baby birds and eggs.

More information to combat this problem at Backyard Bird Predators.

14. Did You Know Raccoons And Squirrels Are Predators?

Both of these types of animals will visit bird feeders to partake of the bird seed. And they will also visit bird houses to eat the eggs or very young birds.

You can add a baffle to your pole that your bird feeder or bird house is mounted on to keep these two invaders away.

Or mount an umbrella baffle over a hanging bird feeder or bird house.

raccoons eat bird eggsRaccoons Like to Wash Their Food

Stop Squirrels With a Pole Mount Baffle Or Hanging Baffle Above

Large selection of different types of baffles here.

15. Does Hummingbird Feeder Nectar Attract Unwelcome Guests?

Bird feeding problems can involve hummingbird feeder nectar too.

But they are not insurmountable.

Find some good tips at "Hummingbird Feeder Nectar Attracts Unwelcome Guests".

Nectar Feeder Brushes ~ My Top Picks 

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Good for "poop" build-up.

A great set small enough to get into narrow necks on nectar bottles.

Bird Poop Remover Wet Wipes

I love using wipes to clean the perches often. They make it so easy.

   Hummingbird feeder accessories here.    

16. What To Do About Bee Swarms In Bird Houses?

Bird feeding problems can come in the form of insects too.

Sometimes bees will take up residence in a bird house.

It can be a perplexing and potentially dangerous situation if not dealt with correctly.

Find the solution on how to deal with this problem here at Beekeeping.

17. How To Handle Starlings & Blackbirds Ruining Everything?

Starlings and Blackbirds can take over and consume large quantities of bird seed. But there are things you can do to eliminate or reduce bird feeding problems like this.

Find helpful tips on my Starlings and Blackbird page.

For some people bird feeding problems come up when it is time to clean feeders or knowing where to place them. Lets have a look at those to issues that need solutions too!

18. How to Keep Bird Feeders Clean?

Keeping feeders clean to prevent the spread of disease to birds and ourselves is a job that must be continuously repeated.

19. Where to Place Bird Feeders?

Where to place bird feeders in your yard or outdoor space whether you have acres or a balcony, is another task that needs to be learned in order to attract the birds you wish to see.

After learning the facts about bird feeding problems and implementing solutions, a greater satisfaction will be derived from this wonderful hobby.

> Bird Feeding Problems

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