|Downy & Red-bellied Woodpeckers @ Droll Yankees A-6 feeders|
While I'm not always as meticulous as I should be, I work at keeping my bird feeders clean.
When I heard the weather forecast (wet snow turning in to rain) yesterday, I knew I would be doing my "cleaning the feeders" routine at the end of the day. Wet seed spoils - and sunflower hearts spoil more quickly than seeds with shells.
My cleaning regimen starts at dusk - emptying the feeders and bringing them into the basement (where I have room to take them part) and soaking them in a hot, soapy, bleach solution in the utility sink. I don't wash animal feeders in the kitchen because it's important to separate human food preparation sites from potential contamination from bird droppings and potentially spoiled bird food.
Then I bring them upstairs and run them through the dishwasher.
Every time I clean my feeders (about once a month - more often when it's wet, hot or humid), I can't help but think of Peter Kilham, the engineer and artist who designed "the world's best bird feeder." Back in 1969, he took a polycarbonate plastic tube, added metal feeding portals and perches, a metal base and top - and created the A-6 tube bird feeder. This simple design fueled the boom in the hobby of bird feeding.
While the Droll Yankees company has made a number of cosmetic and design improvements (and added new models), their tube feeders have stood the test of time: they're the best.
1. it's easy to clean
2. it's not likely to injure birds (no rough edges)
3. the seed levels are visible
4. it protects seed from bird droppings and "weather"
5. you can "modify" it to discourage birds you don't want to see (house sparrows, starlings and pigeons, house finches) by adding a tray or removing perches
6. it comes in several sizes
7. it comes with a lifetime warranty
For best results use only one type of seed (sunflower or safflower or nyjer) in a tube feeder.
Here's why it's more economical to avoid seed mixes:
When you mix seeds, birds show their personal preferences by tossing the seeds they don't prefer on to the ground. Birds that feed on the ground under bird feeders are vulnerable to predators and disease (from spoiled seed/shells and bird feces below the feeder).
When you add up all the wasted seeds - mixes actually cost more!