“Feeding Birds During the Summer: All You Need to Know” is a comprehensive article that provides essential information on the topic of feeding birds during the summer months. While it is common knowledge to feed birds during the colder seasons, many people are unsure if they should continue this practice during the summer. This article addresses this concern by clarifying that there is no need to stop feeding birds in the summer, except in bear country. It further explains that birds can be fed all year round, including during the nesting season. The article also highlights that different bird species, such as House Finches, American Goldfinches, and Grosbeaks, visit feeders during the summer. However, it acknowledges that there might be fewer birds in southern or urban areas during this time. Additionally, the article suggests keeping feeders up until late spring to support migrating birds passing through. It concludes by recommending cleaning feeders and maintaining other bird-friendly features in your yard, even if you decide to stop feeding birds during the summer because of fatigue. Overall, this article serves as a comprehensive guide for anyone interested in learning about feeding birds during the summer season.
Why You Should Feed Birds During the Summer
No Need to Stop Feeding Birds in the Summer
Many people believe that bird feeders should only be filled during the winter months when food is scarce. However, there is no need to stop feeding birds in the summer. In fact, birds can benefit greatly from a consistent food source throughout the year.
Birds Can be Fed All Year Round
Contrary to popular belief, birds can be fed all year round, even during the summer nesting season. While it is true that some birds may have access to natural food sources during this time, providing supplementary food can still be beneficial.
Feeding birds during the summer can help ensure that they have a reliable food source, especially during periods of drought or when natural food supplies are limited. Additionally, many bird species continue to visit feeders even during the summer months, making it a joyous experience for bird enthusiasts.
Supporting Migrating Birds
One of the greatest benefits of feeding birds during the summer is the opportunity to support migrating birds. Although most migratory birds pass through during the spring and fall, some species continue their journeys throughout the summer. By keeping your bird feeders filled and providing them with high-quality food, you can help these migrants refuel and continue their long journeys.
Benefits of Feeding Birds During the Summer
Increased Bird Diversity
Feeding birds during the summer can attract a wider variety of bird species to your yard. Many birds are attracted to bird feeders because they provide a consistent and easily accessible source of food. By offering a diverse selection of bird food, you can attract different species with varying feeding preferences.
Opportunity for Bird Watching
Feeding birds during the summer provides an excellent opportunity for bird watching. With an increased bird diversity, you can observe a wide range of birds and their fascinating behaviors right from the comfort of your own yard. This can be a highly rewarding and educational experience, especially for those who are passionate about birds.
Contribution to Conservation
Feeding birds during the summer can also contribute to conservation efforts. By providing a reliable food source, you are helping to support the local bird population, especially during times when natural food is scarce. Additionally, by creating a bird-friendly environment in your yard, you are promoting habitat conservation and biodiversity.
Popular Bird Species to Feed During the Summer
House Finches are one of the most common backyard birds in North America, and they can be found in many regions during the summer. They are known for their beautiful red plumage on the males and their cheerful songs. House Finches are primarily seed-eaters, so providing them with a variety of seeds, such as sunflower seeds and thistle, can attract them to your feeders.
American Goldfinches are another popular bird species to feed during the summer. They are known for their bright yellow plumage, and the males sport a striking black cap during the breeding season. American Goldfinches are finicky eaters and prefer nyjer seed or sunflower chips. Adding these foods to your feeders can attract these vibrant birds to your yard.
Grosbeaks are a group of birds that include species like the Rose-breasted Grosbeak and the Black-headed Grosbeak. These birds have thick, conical bills that allow them to easily crack open seeds and enjoy a variety of foods. Providing a mix of seeds, nuts, and fruits can attract Grosbeaks to your yard during the summer months.
Maintaining Bird Feeders During the Summer
Cleaning Feeders Regularly
Maintaining clean bird feeders is essential, especially during the summer months when warmth and humidity can lead to the growth of mold and bacteria. Regularly cleaning your bird feeders prevents the spread of diseases among birds and ensures that the food you provide is safe and fresh. Use a diluted bleach solution or a bird-safe cleaning agent to clean your feeders, and rinse them thoroughly before refilling.
Using Fresh and High-Quality Bird Food
When feeding birds during the summer, it is important to use fresh and high-quality bird food. Check the expiration date on the packaging and make sure the food is still fresh before offering it to the birds. Avoid using bird food that contains added preservatives or artificial ingredients, as these may be harmful to birds. Opt for natural and nutritious options such as black oil sunflower seeds, nyjer seed, or suet.
Placing Feeders in Shaded Areas
During the summer, it is beneficial to place your bird feeders in shaded areas to protect the food from excessive heat and direct sunlight. This helps to prevent spoilage and keeps the bird food fresh for a longer period of time. Additionally, shaded areas provide a cooler and more comfortable environment for birds to feed. Consider placing your feeders under the shade of trees or using an awning to protect them from the heat of the sun.
Creating a Bird-Friendly Environment in Your Yard
Providing Fresh Water Sources
In addition to offering food, it is important to provide fresh water sources for birds during the summer. Birds need water for drinking and bathing, and having access to clean water can attract a greater variety of bird species to your yard. Consider installing a bird bath or a shallow dish filled with water. Remember to change the water regularly to prevent the growth of algae and mosquitoes.
Planting Bird-Friendly Flowers and Shrubs
Creating a bird-friendly environment in your yard goes beyond providing food and water. Planting a variety of bird-friendly flowers and shrubs can provide additional sources of food and shelter for birds. Choose native plants that produce berries, seeds, or nectar to attract a diverse range of bird species. Examples include coneflowers, sunflowers, viburnums, and serviceberries.
Avoiding the Use of Chemical Pesticides
To create a truly bird-friendly environment, it is important to avoid the use of chemical pesticides in your yard. Pesticides can be harmful to birds and other beneficial wildlife. Instead, opt for organic and natural pest control methods, such as companion planting or introducing natural predators. By creating a pesticide-free habitat, you are not only supporting bird populations but also protecting the overall ecosystem.
Feeding Birds in Bear Country
Importance of Bear Safety
Feeding birds in bear country requires extra precautions to ensure both the safety of the birds and the bears. Bears have an excellent sense of smell and can be attracted to bird feeders, especially those filled with high-calorie foods such as suet or black oil sunflower seeds. It is important to follow bear safety guidelines and regulations established by local authorities to prevent interactions between bears and humans.
Alternative Ways to Feed Birds in Bear Country
If you live in bear country, there are alternative ways to feed birds while minimizing the risk of attracting bears. Consider using bear-resistant bird feeders that are specifically designed to prevent bears from accessing the food. These feeders often have reinforced construction and mechanisms that make it difficult for bears to dismantle them. Alternatively, you can opt for bird feeding stations that are suspended high off the ground and out of reach for bears.
How to Attract Birds to Your Feeders in the Summer
Choosing the Right Type of Feeder
To attract birds to your feeders in the summer, it is important to choose the right type of feeder. Different bird species have varying feeding preferences, so having a variety of feeders can increase the chances of attracting a diverse range of birds. Consider using tube feeders, hopper feeders, or platform feeders, depending on the species you want to attract.
Using a Variety of Bird Food
Using a variety of bird food can also help attract different bird species to your feeders. Offer a mix of seeds, suet, fruits, and nuts to cater to the various dietary needs and preferences of birds. For example, black oil sunflower seeds are a favorite among many backyard birds, while nyjer seed is highly attractive to finches. Experiment with different types of food to see what works best in attracting the birds you desire.
Creating Different Feeding Stations
Creating multiple feeding stations can help accommodate different bird species and minimize competition for food. Set up feeders at different heights and locations in your yard, allowing birds of various sizes and feeding behaviors to access the food easily. This also creates a more natural and dynamic feeding environment that can attract a larger number of birds.
Dealing with Fewer Birds at Feeders in the Summer
Effects of Southern or Urban Areas
In more southern or urban areas, there may be fewer birds at feeders during the summer months. This is because many bird species in these regions have access to a greater variety of natural food sources, such as fruits, insects, and nectar. Additionally, some bird species may have already completed their breeding season and may no longer require supplemental food.
Tips to Attract Birds in Summer
To attract more birds to your feeders in the summer, consider providing a mix of food options that mimic natural food sources. Plant flowering plants that produce nectar, fruits, or seeds to attract birds naturally. Additionally, offering fresh water sources and creating habitat features such as nesting boxes or shrubs can make your yard more appealing to birds.
Dealing with Unwanted Visitors at Bird Feeders
Squirrels and Other Rodents
Squirrels and other rodents are often attracted to bird feeders and can become a nuisance. They can consume large amounts of bird food and damage feeders. To discourage squirrels and rodents, consider using squirrel-proof feeders or placing baffles or barriers around existing feeders. Providing separate squirrel feeding stations with food that they prefer can also help divert their attention away from bird feeders.
Preventing Access to Undesirable Birds
While attracting a variety of bird species is usually the goal, you may encounter some undesirable bird visitors at your feeders. Certain species, such as European Starlings or House Sparrows, can be aggressive and monopolize the food, preventing other birds from accessing it. To discourage these birds, choose feeders with smaller openings that they cannot fit through, or use feeders that are designed to exclude larger birds.
When and How to Stop Feeding Birds in the Summer
Considering Personal Preferences
Feeding birds in the summer is a personal choice, and there may come a time when you decide to stop feeding them. It could be due to travel plans, budget constraints, or simply a change in interests. If you decide to stop feeding birds, it is important to do so gradually. Start by reducing the amount of food you provide over a period of time to allow birds to adjust to the changing food availability.
Cleaning and Maintaining Bird Feeders
Even if you decide to stop feeding birds in the summer, it is important to continue cleaning and maintaining your bird feeders. Empty and clean the feeders regularly to prevent the buildup of mold and bacteria. This helps to maintain a healthy feeding environment for birds and ensures that your feeders are ready for use when you decide to start feeding again.
In conclusion, there is no need to stop feeding birds in the summer. By providing a consistent food source, you can support a diverse range of bird species and contribute to their well-being. Feeding birds during the summer also offers the opportunity for bird watching and contributes to conservation efforts. Take the necessary steps to maintain your feeders, create a bird-friendly environment in your yard, and attract a variety of bird species for an enjoyable and rewarding experience.