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Bird Feeders: Take Them Down in Spring

If you’ve been helping your local wild birds by supplying them with birdseed through the winter, that’s wonderful. However, once spring ramps up it’s time to take the feeders down.

bird feeder

Here’s why:

  • Birdseed will attract unwanted visitors during the warm months. In some cases this will just be a nuisance (and you may see it as a waste of seed). But in regions with bears, this is a dangerous situation. Birdseed is high in the carbohydrates that bears are seeking in spring and summer. A bear at the bird feeder can be a danger in that moment, should people or pets be present in the yard. It’s also a longer term danger, as the bear may learn to see human residences as a source of food.
  • Most birds are feeding primarily on insects in spring and summer, and feeding those to their young (one exception is house finches). Although leaving feeders out won’t discourage the birds from hunting insects (in other words, it won’t make them lazy or seed addicted), the seed simply won’t be consumed as quickly. This means it may begin to mold, particularly in hot and humid weather, and you won’t likely be cleaning your feeders as often as in winter, since they aren’t emptied as quickly. This can lead to outbreaks of disease among the birds. For other ways to attract and assist birds in warmer months, see:
    Ways to Support Garden Birds in Times of DroughtHelp Groundfeeding Birds by Delaying Fall CleanupGarden at All Levels to Invite Birds and Beneficial InsectsMaterials and Garden Practices That Help Birds Build NestsBerries for BirdsQ&A: Attracting Hummingbirds

Tips for storing bird feeders and leftover birdseed until next fall:

  • Wash bird feeders with mild soap and warm water. Rinse them well and allow them to thoroughly dry before stowing them in your shed, garage or other storage space.
  • Unopened bags of seed can be stored intact in a cool, dry space that is free of rodents. Seed in opened bags should be transferred to a dry, airtight container before going into cool, dry storage. The goal is to keep the seed dry and away from humidity so that it doesn’t grow mold. Inspect the seed before serving it in fall.

Image credit: ClarkNL42 / Getty Images