Bird Feeder Care While You’re Away

Missouri goldfinch
Photo: Missouri Extension

Many people enjoy feeding the variety of birds we have in New England and watching them fly around the yard, or sing a song. But what do you do with your bird feeder if you’re planning to be out of town?

Keeping bird feeders filled is important. Birds depend on the feeder as a food source, if it is not filled regularly, they will move elsewhere to nest and feed. Keeping your bird feeder filled is even more important in the spring when birds are nesting.

If you’re only going to be out of town for a couple of days, you don’t need to worry about your bird feeders. Fill them up before you leave, and they will be fine. If your trip is longer, ideally you should have a friend or neighbor fill your feeders on your regular schedule. If this isn’t an option, you should gradually reduce the amount of bird feed you put out in the weeks leading up to your trip. This will allow the birds to acclimate and find other food sources. Bird baths are another way to attract birds. Make sure the bath is clean, and has plenty of water for optimal use by songbirds.

Here are a few choices for your birdfeeder this winter:

  • Black-oil sunflower seeds provide energy and are easy for small birds to open.
  • White Proso Millet is a nutritous choice that is high in energy.
  • Peanuts can be offered in feeders designed for them with smaller openings.
  • Suet cakes are a popular choice and even come in vegetarian options.
  • Nyjer seed is another favorite of birds and needs a feeder with small holes.
  • Cracked corn in a medium-size is the best choice for birds.

Suggestions for other seasons

  • In the spring, offer fruit, baked and crushed eggshells, and nesting materials like pet hair or small strips of cloth.
  • During the summer months, limit your feeding to nectar for hummingbirds and nyjer seeds for goldfinches.
  • Autumn is a great time to offer millet, peanuts, peanut butter, and suet cakes.

For more information, please visit: Hort Magazine or the Humane Society.