Frequently Asked Questions April 2014

1.  Is it too late to install a Purple Martin house?

Not at all! Early arriving Martins are those adults having prior nesting experience in established colonies. Sub-adults arrive throughout the month of April and the first week of May and are responsible for starting colonies in newly erected Purple Martin houses. We have had folks attract a new colony of Martins as late as May 15.

2. When should I have my Oriole feeders ready?

Orioles begin to arrive by the end of April and will continue to migrate in for several weeks. For best results Wild Bird Habitat recommends having Oriole feeders; orange halves, grape jelly, or nectar ready by April 25th. Timing is the key and being ready prior to their arrival increases your opportunity to enjoy them all summer long.

3. How can I keep black birds, from over taking my bird feeders?

 If you have a feeder that is over-run with Grackles you may want to consider using straight Safflower seed or Nutra-Safflower seed. Safflower can be used in any feeder, but Wild Bird Habitat recommends using it especially on ground feeders and in platform feeders during the summer months.

4. The Grackles chase off all my small birds. What can I do?

Again, Safflower seed can help deter Grackles, but for small birds and woodpeckers you may want to consider a bird feeder protected by a wire cage. These make great feeders for all smaller birds; Chickadees, Nuthatches, Finch and also is excellent feeder for all members of the woodpecker family. Hulled sunflowers work best in caged bird feeders.

 5. When can I expect hummingbirds at my nectar feeders?

As with Orioles, attracting hummingbirds is all about timing. In the spring have your nectar feeders ready by Mother’s Day, preferably the week before. On their return trip south have the feeders ready by the second week in August. Plant tubular flowers this spring to attract hummingbirds in late summer and early fall. Ask our the staff at Wild Bird Habitat for more hummingbird tips

6. I have had my thistle feeder out,  where are the Goldfinches?

If you have not attracted Goldfinches to your thistle feeders this spring you may want to consider refilling your feeder with fresh Nyjer thistle. Thistle seed has a shelf life of 3 to 4 months after Goldfinches and House Finch will ignore it. 

7. How can I attract House Wrens?

The male House Wren prefers multiple bird houses where he will build several nests to impress his mate. Although she will only accept one, having multiple wren boxes will increase you opportunity to attract a nesting pair.

8. How do I keep my bird bath clean?

Wild Bird Habitat recommends keeping your bird bath in as much shade as possible. It is the sun that promotes Algae growth. Clean concrete bird baths once a month during the summer with a week solution of Clorox and water, rinsing well. The Clorox will kill the Algae spores in the porous concrete keeping your bird bath cleaner longer. For decorative finished concrete bird baths use a solution of vinegar and water. Add a few drops of Wild Bird Habitat’s “bird bath cleaner” to reduce the amount of cleaning necessary. It is non-toxic to birds.

9. Is there any way to keep squirrels from getting on the bird feeder?

At Wild Bird Habitat we have a variety of squirrel baffles that are extremely functional and can be used with all Sheppard’s hooks, bird feeder poles, 4 X 4 posts, and those bird feeders hung from branches and more. We also have a full line of squirrel proof bird feeders that allow birds to feed but block the squirrel’s access to the bird seed. Check with a Wild Bird Habitat Store specialist for more information on preventing squirrels from robbing your bird feeders.

10. Should I continue to feed suet during the spring and summer months?

Definitely! Woodpeckers will consume 30% more animal protein between March and the end of summer than all winter long, even bringing their young to the feeder. If Starlings become a problem try an upside-down suet feeder or log, or one of Wild Bird Habitat’s caged suet feeders.

11. Is it too late to put up bluebird houses?

Although bluebirds begin nesting in earnest in April, they have two to three broods each season. It is always a good time to install bluebird nesting boxes, even through mid-summer. I have had bluebirds re-nest as late as early September if the weather permits.

12. Woodpeckers are damaging the siding on my house,  How can I prevent this?

The remedies for this would be too lengthy to publish in our FAQs. We may address this in a later newsletter, but in the meantime Wild Bird Habitat recommends going to the Cornell University Bird Lab website for advice at Woodpecker Control. For non-lethal applications visit Bird X.

13. House Sparrows keep taking over my Wren bird house. How do I prevent that?

House Wrens only require an opening to a bird house of 1” to 1-1/8”. Anything larger and a House Sparrow may gain access. If you have a nest box with a larger opening Wild Bird Habitat has metal portals to reduce the size to allow a House Wren to enter, but not a House Sparrow. You can adapt these portals to any of your favorite bird houses.

14. How can I keep rabbits from eating my spring plants?

Wild Bird Habitat has a variety of products that are all natural and safe to use in your backyard to prevent hungry rabbits and deer from eating your new plantings and gardens, and deter raccoons from raiding your bird feeders. Shake-Away has proven to be effective at controlling everything from rabbits to free roaming cats. Check out our “pest control” display for other available products.

15. What should I use to clean my bird feeders?

A week solution of Clorox and water will do the job and disinfect the feeder as well. At Wild Bird Habitat we have brushes designed for seed tube and thistle tube bird feeders. There are also several products available  to make cleaning bird feeders and bird houses a breeze. One thing to note. If you dry your tube feeders or the plastic lens on hopper bird feeders use a cloth or rag. Do not use paper towels. The cellulose fibers in the paper will leave little scratches on the polycarbonate tubes and the clear Plexiglas parts on other feeders. Also, make certain to rinse the feeders well, flushing them with water to remove any cleaning solvents.

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