Clean and Sanitize
At this time of year, it is best to take them down, clean and sanitize them, and refill them with some fresh food. They can fill up with bacteria, disease, and bugs that can actually kill your feathered friends if left unchecked. Salmonella is one of the worst and most common ways to infect a whole colony of birds. The best way to clean those dirty bird structures is to take them down and take them apart. You should wear gloves because you don’t want to get sick or transfer the bacteria to your indoor pets. Then you should use either a commercial bird feeder cleaning solution or a bleach/water solution to clean each part thoroughly. Use a wire brush or toothbrush to get into the nooks and crannies. Afterward, let the parts completely dry before putting it back together and refilling it.
Recycle and Reuse for Feeders
If your feeders are really disgusting like they sometimes get after a few years, just go ahead and throw those away and get new ones. Before you run out to buy new ones though, consider recycling what you have around the house. For example, you can use a pinecone and spread peanut butter all over it then roll it in birdseed. Just hang it up with a string and the birds will flock to it! How about a log or a large branch? You can put an eye hook in one end and then drill some large holes in it to fill with suet, peanut butter, or honey. The birds and the squirrels will love it! You can also use a corn cob rolled in one of the sticky substances and then rolled in bird seed. An old pot or pie pan would also make a great feeder. Also, an old window screen would be great as a large platform feeder.
Recycle and Reuse for Bird Baths
You can use just about anything for a bird bath as long as it holds water. As long as it isn’t made out of or was previously filled with something toxic, it will be fine. For instance, don’t use an old jug that you used for bug spray or fertilizer because they can be toxic to birds and other critters that may stop by for a drink. Old pots, pans, or take-out containers can be used for water if you have a way to hang them such as in a wire mesh hanging basket. If you have a lot of birds or want to share with the other critters, you can even get a child’s plastic swimming pool and put water in it for them. They’ll definitely love that when the summer comes.
You could also glue a large dinner plate to the bottom of a vase and a large dinner plate to the top of the vase then place a bowl of water on top. You could even use the plate for bird food. Or do you have an old chip & dip platter? That would be a perfect water feature! Using an old flower pot can work too. Just turn it upside down so the widest part is on the bottom and set the large water saucer on top and fill it with water. There are so many things you can use. The main thing you need to use is your imagination. If you don’t have one, just Google it.
You Made a Birdhouse Out of What?
You can literally make a birdhouse out of whatever you want. Take a look around you right now and you can probably spot several things you could use. Like that old coffee can, mailbox, jug, or even an old boot with a hole in it. If you are handy with wood, you can make a birdhouse with just a simple 2x4 or some scraps left over from another project. In researching this, I saw some seriously strange things that I would have never thought of like using some rocks glued together to make a rock house or twigs glued together to make a “log” house. Hang an old coffee cup or teapot sideways and watch the birds fill it with fluff and stuff. An old chair, dresser drawer from an old dresser, popsicle sticks, even an old milk carton. I actually saw one made out of a loaf of bread that they hollowed out and stuck on a tree limb. Then they put a pencil in the side for the birds to sit on and the birds loved it. They might eat it, but I guess that’s okay too.
And if you don’t want all that stuff in your yard or just want a more natural look, try planting some plants that will attract the birds to your yard. For example, there are five very popular trees for birds, which include the Mulberry, Serviceberry, Dogwood, Crabapple, and Viburnum. Some annual flowers that birds like are Yarrow, Sunflower, Snapdragon, Larkspur, Cosmos, and Aster. And the best perennials for the birds include Tickseed, Purple Coneflower, Maiden Grass, Sedum, Goldenrod, and Bee Balm. And don’t forget the Juniper, Holly, Yew, and Huckleberry as well as Blackberries, Blueberries, Chokecherry, and Elderberry. Birds like a variety of things, just check and make sure that whatever you decide to plant will do well in your zone. Like, I cannot plant a lemon tree, palm tree, or orange tree here in Missouri and expect them to live very long. Anyway, happy gardening and birding!