Tips for Summer Bird Feeding
You may have heard the myth that feeding birds in the summertime can be detrimental to wild birds because it causes them to avoid seeking their natural food sources and become dependent on feeders. However, birds search for food in a variety of places and typically receive no more than 25 percent of their daily food from feeders. Summer is a wonderful time for birders to enjoy the vibrant plumage of feathered friends, especially through the longer days.
Summer is the time when fruits, insects, seeds, and other natural food sources become readily available for birds. This means you’ll need to offer a more varied selection of tasty treats to make your feeder an appealing option.
Seed blends (particularly those that contain black oil sunflower seeds) are nutrient dense and an excellent choice for attracting a variety of species including cardinals, woodpeckers, and finches.
Fruit is a great way to attract birds that don’t typically visit seed feeders. Oranges, grapes, cherries, apples, and pears can be diced and left out on a platform feeder or placed in a suet style feeder to attract thrushes, orioles, jays, mockingbirds and more. Be sure to remove any molding or discarded fruit to keep the food supply clean.
Mealworms are packed with protein and are ideal for attracting bug-eating bird species including blackbirds, sparrows, and wrens. Mealworms can be purchased live, which require more maintenance but are very appealing to birds, or dried, which are budget-friendly but not quite as alluring.
Nectar is particularly loved by hummingbirds, orioles, and warblers, who can digest the high sucrose content. Be careful to avoid putting out high quantities of nectar, which can spoil quickly during the summer months and contaminate the food source.
Problems with Pests
If you are familiar with birding, you are aware that unwanted pests can be attracted to your feeder. Squirrels, mice, rats, raccoons, deer, and even bears can be a concern during the summer months, but there are things you can do to minimize backyard visitors.
Inspect your feeders carefully before you fill and hang them. Many feeders have apparatus that are meant to deter animals and make it difficult for them to access the bird food. Repair any loose or damaged parts and consider replacing your feeder if you have any doubts about its durability. Be sure to hang bird feeders high and out of reach of larger animals such as deer and bears.
If you live in a wooded or rural area, you might consider moving your bird feeders into a shed or storage bin overnight to greatly reduce the risk of nighttime visitors. Clearing scattered food from the ground underneath your feeder can also help to deter other animals.
Summer heat and weather can also impact your bird feeding routine. Keeping your bird feeder in a shady area can minimize spoilage and contamination. Your feathered friends will also enjoy the cool of the shade and may be more likely to visit your feeder.
Storms can be especially powerful during the summer, with frequent thunderstorms and downpours. Using baffles can help keep the bird food dry on rainy days, especially if you are using primarily seeds. During exceptionally stormy days, you might consider taking down your feeder altogether to avoid potential damage.
The heat of summer can also cause bird food to spoil more easily than during the cooler months. It’s a good idea to only put our 1-2 days worth of food at a time to reduce the spoilage potential. Bird baths aren’t just an attractive addition to your garden, they are also extremely beneficial to birds during the summer months. Birds who don’t typically visit feeders will appreciate having a reliable source of clean water for drinking and keeping cool.
With a few considerations, you can bring a variety of bird species to your yard and enjoy bird watching all summer long.