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Birds & Animals
What species is this? When will this species migrate to my area?
We love meeting fellow bird nerds! While we enjoy feeding the birds and sharing birding information, there may be some species we are unfamiliar with. We recommend downloading the Merlin app to identify species, visiting the Cornell Lab of Ornithology to learn about migration ranges, and contacting your local Audubon chapter to learn more about a particular species in your area.
How do I deter squirrels from my bird feeder?
Squirrels are so clever and relentless and it seems sometimes that they’re smarter than most other animals. One of the biggest challenges to feeding wild birds—our own challenge too—is deterring squirrels. We work on a daily basis to create quality products and cultivate good advice that will help us all win this fight.
The key to successfully keeping a feeder squirrel-proof is its placement. Squirrels are agile and are able to jump up to 8ft horizontally and 4ft vertically. For this reason, we recommend that feeders be placed 8 feet away from any structures that they can climb on so that they do not reach across to access the feeding holes. It can be helpful to trim back and prune any nearby bushes or branches within 12ft of a feeder. We also recommend that feeders be placed higher than 4 feet off the ground, preventing the squirrels from jumping and grabbing onto the bottom. If you are using a hook or pole, we recommend that the hook have at least a 16-inch distance from the pole. Placing a baffle on the pole or having a caged feeder will also help to ensure squirrel-proofing success.
Why aren’t there any birds at my feeder?
Birds are creatures of habit, and it can take them days or even weeks to use a new feeder. There is something new in the yard that they are not used to, and they need to warm up to it first. We would suggest temporarily removing other feeders in the area so that the birds must use the new one. Oddly enough, filling the feeder half-full seems to help attract the birds to the new feeder.
Make sure you are regularly cleaning your hummingbird feeder. Hummingbirds often avoid feeders that have rancid nectar. We recommend disinfecting your nectar feeders every three to five days. Increase cleaning frequency if you notice your nectar has become cloudy. Do not use harsh chemicals, as they can be harmful to the birds and the environment. Do not put your feeder in the dishwasher, as the high temperatures can permanently damage the feeder parts. Wash your nectar feeder in a 50/50 solution of hot water and white vinegar, rinse thoroughly.
Hummingbirds have a notorious affinity for the color red. That’s why red is used so predominantly on hummingbird feeders. Tying a red ribbon on your feeder that will move in the wind is one way to get their attention. While the color red will initially attract a hummingbird, they have become accustomed to feeders in general and after getting used to a feeder in a new location, the color red may not be necessary!
Another way is to position your feeder within inches of a hanging plant that is attractive to hummers, such as fuchsia, where they’ll practically trip over the feeder. Once the hummers recognize the feeder as a food source, you can place it almost anywhere.
Check with your local Audubon Society to find out when hummers are in your area. Put your feeders out one week before they are expected to arrive so that any early arrivals will be encouraged to stay. Leave your feeders up at least one week after you’ve seen the last hummer for migrants passing through. Hummers like a place to perch and rest, so try to place your feeder near a bush or tree. If an aggressive hummer tries to dominate your feeder, place another feeder out of sight of the first.
Hummers are attracted by a wide variety of flowers. Some favorites are: American columbine, bee balm, bugleweed, butterfly milkweed, choral bean, coralberry, fuchsia, hibiscus, hollyhock, larkspur, lemon bottlebrush, mimosa tree, evening primrose, red buckeye, red impatiens, red salvia, sage tiger lily, trumpet honeysuckle, trumpet vine, weigela, and zinnia.
We would suggest temporarily removing other hummingbird feeders in the area so that the hummingbirds will be encouraged to use the new one.
How do I deter bears from my bird feeder?
Having bears at your feeders can ultimately be dangerous if not addressed before the bears become accustomed to a regular meal. I like to refer to this article when trying to answer this question. Some highlights from the article are:
Mount Feeders Properly: Bears will climb poles to reach feeders or may lean on poles to knock feeders down. A sturdy metal pole with the feeder 10-12 feet high is best to discourage bears, but the pole should be secure enough in the ground that it cannot be knocked over or easily uprooted.
Alternative Foods: Bears are most attracted to suet and seed feeders, but will also sip at leaking nectar feeders or tray feeders where fruit is offered. Instead of offering these treats to backyard birds, offer bitter-tasting safflower seed or Nyjer® and plant natural sources of food such as seed-bearing flowers, berry-producing bushes or flowers for hummingbirds.
Eliminate Other Foods: Bears wandering into backyards for birdseed may find other easy foods that tempt them to stay. Remove outdoor pet foods, keep trash secure, tend compost piles properly to eliminate odors and speed decomposition, and keep barbecue grills clean so there are no other smells or foods that could lure bears.
Lights On: Install motion sensor-operated lights of the highest safe wattage aimed at the bird feeders. Bears will trigger the lights when they approach and will not like the disruption to their vision. Most bears will then head for darker areas away from the feeders where they feel more secure.
How do I deter grackles and starlings?
An option for deterring grackles and starlings is to change the type of seed in your feeder. These species are attracted to cracked corn and some will eat sunflower seeds. They are not fond of thistle (Nyjer®) seed. Another suggestion is to try substituting your usual mixed seed or sunflower seed with safflower seed. Most songbirds enjoy safflower seed but grackles and starlings will typically avoid it. After using safflower seed for a few weeks, you can try using your regular seed mix. In most cases, the grackles and starlings will not return to the feeder after the safflower seed has been offered.
It may also be helpful to use a domed cage feeder. Squirrel-proof caged feeders provide the best of both worlds: protection from unwanted creatures like squirrels and larger birds such as grackles and starlings, and protection from the elements. Small songbirds easily fly in for safe feeding.
How do I deter sparrows?
Sparrows can be difficult to contend with, especially when they upset the harmony of your backyard birding station. This article outlines several methods some backyard birders are using to deter the house sparrows.
First of all, we would suggest that you change the foods that you’re currently offering the birds. We would suggest that you remove cracked corn, wheat, oats, millet and bread scraps from your backyard birdfeeders. Sunflower seed should also be either limited or restricted to small feeders that sway in the wind, which can spook house sparrows but will not always be effective. In addition to Nyjer, try adding safflower seeds, suet, nectar, fruit, and nuts, none of which are preferred by these aggressive birds.
The types of feeders used can also make a difference. House sparrows prefer to feed on the ground or on large hopper or platform feeders; remove these feeder styles to discourage house sparrows from visiting. Instead, use tube feeders with perches shorter than 5/8ths of an inch to prevent house sparrows from perching easily.
Owls are a natural predator, so sparrows are frightened of them. A convincing replica may drive the pests away.
Another way to discourage sparrows would be to remove any food and water sources that may attract the birds, and place lids on garbage bins. If possible, remove bird feeders until after the sparrows have moved their nests. Bird-proof fencing can be used to keep sparrows out of gardens and other areas where food is readily available. All birds, however, are attracted to water sources, so you may want to take this measure only temporarily.
How do I keep ants away from my hummingbird feeder?
If you experience issues with ants, it is very possible that your feeder is leaking. Check for any cracks on the feeder and feeding ports. Additionally, placing your feeder in direct sunlight can cause leakage because the sunlight will expand the plastic. It is recommended to place your feeder in partial sunlight.
Regularly cleaning your feeder, especially in hot weather, should help detract ants too.
Many people find ant moats to be very helpful at deterring ants; simply attach the moat to the top of your hummingbird feeder and fill with water.
If these solutions do not help, try relocating your hummingbird feeder. Sometimes all it takes is a few feet to stop ants from visiting your feeder!
How do I clean my bird feeder?
Keeping your feeders clean is a very important part of bird feeding. Bacteria and disease are spread through bird droppings on feeders, as well as from seed and hulls below the feeder. Damp feed and debris can cultivate a fungus.
We recommend disinfecting your feeders once a month in winter and more often in hot and humid weather. Do not use harsh chemicals, as they can be harmful to the birds and the environment. Do not put your feeder in the dishwasher, as the high temperatures can permanently damage the feeder parts.
First, let the birds empty the feeder as far as they can. Shake out any remaining seeds and chaff. Wash all plastic parts in a 50/50 solution of hot water and white vinegar, rinse thoroughly. Remove all the hardware and clean with a mild soap & water solution, rinse thoroughly. Refill when completely dry.
Throw out any wet or moldy food and disinfect any containers or scoops used to handle it. If you notice that the seed in the feeder is not being eaten, check to see if it has become moldy or wet from rain.
Make sure to rake, shovel or shop vac seed debris from beneath feeders on a regular basis to prevent the growth of mold and bacteria and to deter rodents.
Overcrowding at feeders is a key factor in spreading disease. Provide additional feeders to counteract this effect.
Seed should be stored in a cool, dry place using a sealed container that rodents cannot enter. Mice can spread some bird diseases without being affected themselves.
Keeping your feeders clean is a very important part of bird feeding. Bacteria and disease can be spread via contaminated surfaces and food sources.
We recommend disinfecting your nectar feeders every three to five days. Increase cleaning frequency if you notice your nectar has become cloudy. Do not use harsh chemicals, as they can be harmful to the birds and the environment. Do not put your feeder in the dishwasher, as the high temperatures can permanently damage the feeder parts. Wash your nectar feeder in a 50/50 solution of hot water and white vinegar, rinse thoroughly.
Overcrowding at feeders is a key factor in spreading disease. Provide additional feeders to counteract this effect.
I think my bird feeder has a manufacturing defect. What do I do?
We apologize we fell short meeting expectations with our product. At Classic Brands, we strive to design and manufacture excellent items for both you and the birds. It is our commitment to update any and all flaws to provide the best product possible for you and the birds.
We would like the opportunity to directly talk to you about your situation and try and find a solution. Please call our Consumer Services Department at 1-800-352-9164 and any one of our Consumer Services Reps will be happy to assist you. Our hours are 7 am – 4:30 pm (Mon-Fri) EST. Thank you for flying with our flock!