The fall is a wonderful time for the birds that frequent your garden. At this time of year there is a surplus of natural food sources.
Many of your perennials such as aster, coneflower and rudbeckia develop seed heads to feed your visitors.
At the same time many shrubs and trees are hanging with berries rich in nutrients.
How to Clean Bird Feeders and Houses:
Most of us still like to supply extra supplies of winter bird food with the use of seed feeders and suet feeders. After a busy summer season fall is a good time to give your bird feeders a thorough cleaning. Empty your feeders and give them a good soapy wash with hot water and dish soap. Be sure to rinse extra well to remove any soap residues. After rinsing place them in a tub of fresh warm water and add a few cups of vinegar and let them soak, once again rinsing well. Alternatively you can soak them in a 10% solution of household bleach then let them air dry. Before refilling with winter bird seed make sure your feeders are completely dry.
If you also have bird houses a similar treatment should be applied. This way they will be disinfected and ready to go when the nesting birds arrive back in the spring.
Supplying a fresh source of Water:
If you encourage garden birds in winter to your garden with feed be sure to also supply a water source.Ceramic and concrete bird baths will most likely experience serious damage with freezing temperatures. A winter bird bath at ground level sitting in the south will work better as it will remain unfrozen longer. In northern climates you will need to provide an electric heater to keep the water from freezing. Choose a unit to operate at a depth oh 1.5 to 3 inches for the shallow water suitable for a bird bath. These are relatively inexpensive. You can also purchase bird baths with a heating unit already installed.
Many types of birds enjoy suet through the winter. You can always buy suet cakes or balls but you might want to try making your own.
Bird Suet Recipe
3 cups melted suet ( beef suet is best / purchase from your butcher )
1 cup cornmeal
1 cup peanut butter
1 cup broken peanuts or almonds
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup raisins
Combine all ingredients in top of a double boiler and add enough water to create a thick porridge. Cook over the hot water until blended. Use to fill feeders.
(recipe by John Dennis)
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(some photos from pixabay) (some links go to my affiliate Amazon account)