The first sightings of hummingbirds in our area this season have just been reported, which means that bird enthusiasts and novices will want to prepare for the influx of feathered friends that will fill yards this spring and summer.
Before preparing feeders for the summer, Ken Badke, the owner of Wild Birds Unlimited in Martinez, recommends cleaning the feeder.
"We typically suggest that you clean your feeders twice a year to get rid of any bacteria and mold that may have built up," said Badke. One part bleach to 10 parts water is a good cleaning solution. Just be sure to rinse the feeder well and allow it to dry before adding seed.
When choosing where to place your feeder, Badke recommends putting it where you can see it and enjoy a little bird watching as you have your morning coffee. Feeders of varying heights and with different types of seed can be clustered together to create a feeding station.
If you have only one feeder, Badke said to be sure to choose a good quality seed, as the less expensive seeds have filler seeds in them that the birds won't eat.
"Birds don't care what the feeder looks like; they just care about the seed," said Badke, recommending black oil seed, which is among the more popular seed sold.
At Wild Birds Unlimited, the store is currently offering a seed blend with added calcium, which is great for birds who are preparing to nest and lay eggs. The added calcium will help strengthen the shells of the eggs and also make for stronger bones.
Of course, birds need a watering "hole" and birdbaths provide the perfect spot for quenching their thirst, while also giving them a place to wash off. And during the hot summer months, you'll want to be sure to provide a constant water source for birds.
For those who put out feeders and birdhouses, be sure to put them away from each other, said Badke.
"Make sure your feeder is not near a birdhouse," he said. "Birds are very territorial and if the feeder is too close to the house, it will create a conflict." If that happens, the feeder or the birdhouse might go unused.
Birds will begin nesting soon and several types of birds common to our area can lay as many as three sets of eggs throughout the spring and summer seasons. By providing them with adequate feed and water, we can ensure that the birds will stay around all season long.
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