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5 Tips to a Bird Safe Yard

Updated on April 18, 2013
grandmapearl profile image

At a very young age Connie learned from her Grandma Pearl to observe and love backyard birds. She stills feeds and studies them everyday.

Male Rose-Breasted Grosbeak
Male Rose-Breasted Grosbeak | Source

Hidden Dangers to Songbirds

1. Do you use toxic pesticides and/or herbicides?

2. Do you have indoor plants in front of your windows?

3. Are your bird feeders clean?

4. Do you have clean, sturdy bird houses to shelter birds and their nestlings from storms?

5. If you have a bird bath, is it clean and free from debris that could harbor disease-carrying bacteria?

Our busy days are filled to the brim with all kinds of demands on our time. But, taking a few moments to make sure your yard is safe for your resident birds as well as migratory visitors, will pay big dividends for future generations of songbirds.

Wrens eat tons of bugs!
Wrens eat tons of bugs! | Source

Pesticides and Herbicides

Anyone who knows me or has read my articles knows that I am all about natural and non-toxic alternatives to poisonous chemicals in our environment.

Commercially available organic and non-toxic pesticides and herbicides are a much better choice. But the best choice is to make your yard bird friendly. Your birds will do a very good job of taking care of the pests and weed seeds. If you still feel the need to eradicate certain weeds, and bugs, please use the non-toxic varieties of weed and bug killers. They can be found both online and at your local garden center.

Toxic weed and bug killers contain ingredients that are harmful to humans and wildlife. Remember, if you kill the insects, you deprive the birds of nourishment their offspring depends on. Further, birds ingest pesticides and herbicides that linger in the environment. These toxins harm and often kill Mother Nature’s built-in pest and weed control.

Avoiding Bird Window Collisions

If you have indoor plants on display in front of your windows, it’s an invitation for bird window collisions. Every year millions of songbirds die when they collide with man-made structures; specifically glass windows. They cannot see the glass, and see only the reflection of the trees, plants, and sky.

One solution is to add inexpensive translucent tape in a grid pattern to the outside or inside of your windows and sliding glass doors. Humans can see through it, but the tape produces an ultraviolet reflection the birds can detect and therefore avoid.

Do Birds Ever Collide With Your Windows?

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Redpolls in my hanging tray feeder.
Redpolls in my hanging tray feeder. | Source

Do You Take the Time to Clean Your Bird Feeders?

It is essential in order to keep disease-carrying bacteria and mold organisms from harming or killing your backyard birds. Remove old, stuck-on seeds and other debris with a putty knife; then clean each part of your feeders with a solution of 1 part bleach to 9 parts of water. Leave out in the sun to dry before reassembling and refilling with fresh seeds. Your birds will be much healthier if you perform this easy maintenance throughout the bird feeding season.

Male Ruby-Throated Hummingbird enjoying nectar.
Male Ruby-Throated Hummingbird enjoying nectar. | Source

Make a Hummingbird Happy!

Don't neglect your nectar feeders. Make sure to supply fresh nectar every 3 to 4 days, especially in hot weather. Clean the inside and outside ports with hot soapy water and a brush to remove any residue or bacteria buildup. Rinse thoroughly with hot water and allow the nectar feeder to dry before refilling.

Hummers stop using feeders if the nectar has spoiled. In fact, they will remember that location and avoid it in future. So it is best to keep on top of this necessary task. It just takes a few minutes to make a hummingbird very happy!

How to Clean Bird Feeders & Baths

Inspect Your Bird Houses

Purchasing sturdy, well-built bird houses insures the next generation of backyard birds will be protected from predators, storms and bitter cold winds. Make sure your bird houses can withstand the elements without leaking. Do not let a nest full of baby birds drown or fall ill because a leaking roof has allowed cold rain to enter their bird house. Does your bird house have adequate ventilation areas to keep baby birds from overheating?

Before nesting season begins, inspect your bird houses. Remove any old nests, debris and droppings. Clean your bird house with a solution of 1 part bleach to 9 parts water, and rinse with clean water. Leave the bird house open to the air to dry thoroughly. Do everything you can to keep the next generation of birds healthy.

While you have the bird house open, rub the interior roof with non-deodorant bar soap to deter wasps and bees from attaching their nests.

To keep mice from using the bird house, plant mint at the base or put peppermint oil on the bird house pole. Mice hate mint!

Clean out your bird houses!
Clean out your bird houses! | Source
Blue Jays in the Bird Bath
Blue Jays in the Bird Bath | Source

Do You Keep Your Bird Bath Clean?

Clean water is essential to birds’ health just as it is to humans. They not only use it to quench their thirst, but to bathe in. It helps reduce parasite infestation and keeps their feathers in great flying condition.

Maintain a clean bird bath by removing dirt, algae and debris. Scrub the bird bath with a wire brush to remove stubborn algae that does not rinse out easily with a hose. Once a month, or more often in warm weather, use 1 part bleach to 9 parts water to kill any disease-carrying organisms and algae. Rinse thoroughly and refill with clean water. Invest a little bit of time in this routine, and you will see more birds using your bird bath or fountain on a regular basis.

Bird Bath placement near bush.
Bird Bath placement near bush. | Source

Birds like to have safe places to perch, preen and dry their feathers after a cool dip. Place your bird bath near a large shrub or evergreen tree to provide branches for rapid escape should a predator approach. Keep lower branches of the shrub or evergreen trimmed so no predators can hide beneath them.

These few helpful steps will make a huge difference to your backyard birds and their offspring. This is time well spent to insure the health and well-being of our feathered friends.

Is Your Yard Bird Friendly?

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    • grandmapearl profile imageAUTHOR

      Connie Smith 

      5 years ago from Southern Tier New York State

      Jatinder Joshi, I'm so glad you stopped by for a visit, and that you found this information useful. It doesn't take much to keep birds happy and healthy; I find that it is a natural extension of my mission to keep things inside and outside of my home as non-toxic and safe as possible.

      Enjoy your day;) Pearl

    • Jatinder Joshi profile image

      Jatinder Joshi 

      5 years ago from Whitby, Ontario, Canada

      Very useful and practical information on how to keep your backyard bird friendly. Thank you for sharing.

    • grandmapearl profile imageAUTHOR

      Connie Smith 

      5 years ago from Southern Tier New York State

      Hey Irish, it's so good to see you! Thanks as always for your supportive and fun comments. I love it when you stop by :)

      Now I'm looking forward to my hummers' arrival, along with the orioles I love so much. They should be here soon, if the weather cooperates. Although, it sure has been slow to warm up this season, hasn't it? Good old NYS--always throwing us curve balls!

      Enjoy the sunshine today; I think they were talking about rain tomorrow ;) Pearl

    • shiningirisheyes profile image

      Shining Irish Eyes 

      5 years ago from Upstate, New York

      Great article Grandma Pearl. It is so important to take care of those little guys. Giving them a safe atmosphere means having them around to enjoy on those long sunshine afternoons. Very helpful and important information.

    • grandmapearl profile imageAUTHOR

      Connie Smith 

      5 years ago from Southern Tier New York State

      Hi Deb, you and I know how important it is to keep our birds and wildlife safe. I really appreciate your recipe for organic weed killer spray. This is something I am definitely going to use! I like getting back to natural remedies and solutions. Thanks for your awesome weed killer solution!

      ;) Pearl

    • grandmapearl profile imageAUTHOR

      Connie Smith 

      5 years ago from Southern Tier New York State

      AliciaC, I'm so glad you enjoyed this article. I'm also pleased you liked the photos. You and I share a love of birds, and I appreciate your supportive comments. Thank you ;) Pearl

    • grandmapearl profile imageAUTHOR

      Connie Smith 

      5 years ago from Southern Tier New York State

      bravewarrior, Thank You for the awesome tip for using organic apple cider vinegar in the bird bath. I am definitely going to do this from now on. I have used cider vinegar to clean the plastic and glass parts of bird feeders. It makes them sparkling clean. It was only 43 degrees today, but I enjoyed watching a chickadee splashing around in the bird bath! Thanks so much for your visit ;) Pearl

    • grandmapearl profile imageAUTHOR

      Connie Smith 

      5 years ago from Southern Tier New York State

      Mary, You are very welcome! I'm so glad you stopped by, and that you enjoyed this article. Our hummingbirds will soon be arriving in this area. I look forward to the males checking out the nectar feeders a couple of days before the females arrive.

      Just yesterday I heard a Common Yellowthroat 'witchity, witchity, witchity. So I'm glad my yard is safe for this cool little guy!

      Thank you very much for the votes ;) Pearl

    • grandmapearl profile imageAUTHOR

      Connie Smith 

      5 years ago from Southern Tier New York State

      Hi Carol, inviting birds to your yard will spice things up for sure! I like to be able to go out back and escape as often as possible. It clears my mind, and seeing the birds helps me forget about anything else that might be troubling me, at least for awhile! Thanks for the visit, my friend, and for the votes and pin. They are very much appreciated, as are you!

      ;) Pearl

    • carol7777 profile image

      carol stanley 

      5 years ago from Arizona

      We have a very boring backyard...and haven't put our feeder out for a while. However I am saving this as we may get ambitious and fix up the yard. Great hub..Voting +++++Pinning.

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 

      5 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Great material, as always, Connie. It is very important to protect our wildlife. For people that don't want to buy weed killers, this is a winner: Amazing Organic Weed Killer Spray. 1/2 gallon of Apple Cider Vinegar, 1/4 c table salt, and 1/2 tsp Dawn liquid dish soap. Mix and pour into a spray bottle. Spray weeds thoroughly. It makes 1/2 gallon for around $6.40 It worked better than Round Up and killed the weeds on first application. The Dawn dish soap strips the weed of its protective oils so the vinegar can work with deadly force. Safe to use in a yard used by pets and frequented by birds and other wildlife.

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 

      5 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Thanks for sharing this useful information. I love the photos, too! Watching birds in a garden is so enjoyable. It's great to learn how to keep a yard safe for them.

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 

      5 years ago from Central Florida

      Grandmapearl, this is a wonderful hub. I don't have bird houses, but I do have a bird bath. I clean it with Dawn and water and rinse thoroughly before adding clean water. Then I add a few splashes of organic apple cider vinegar. It doesn't harm the birds, but helps to keep the bird bath free of alae and anything else that might grow in stagnant water. They love it! I just love watching them cool themselves off on a hot day.

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 

      5 years ago from New York

      Okay I started reading thinking I know it all ;) I didn't know I could use soapy water on the hummingbird feeders. I always use hot water but it takes me forever to get them clean. Thanks so much for the tips!

      Voted up, useful, and interesting.

    • grandmapearl profile imageAUTHOR

      Connie Smith 

      5 years ago from Southern Tier New York State

      Billy, I'm proud of you! Actually, I had a really good feeling that you knew all this stuff a long time ago. But it's worth repeating just because there are so many other springtime chores that demand our attention.

      I am anxiously awaiting my first hummingbird visit in the next couple of weeks. Climate change has caused them to head northward a little sooner it seems. To me, hummers are the true sign that spring has arrived!

      Thanks for your visit this grey morning; you have brightened my day my friend, as always ;) Pearl

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      From the lips of the bird expert to our ears. :) The truth according to Pearl and I am taking notes.

      Great information. I'm proud to say we scored 100% on this little test.

      Good job, Pearl! May your birds always be happy.



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