How to Care for Bird Feeders in Winter

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Bird feeders require extra care in winter to prevent mold from building up on damp seed. Learn a sensible maintenance routine from an expert in this free video on winter garden care.

Part of the Video Series: Winter Garden Care
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Video Transcript

Hi, I'm Marci Degman, The Aspiring Gardener, and today we're going to talk about caring for your bird feeders in winter. Caring a bird feeder should be done year round. You should always keep your bird feeders clean; even in the summer if they get kind of grimy or if you're in an area where it rains, you always want to take a brush, scrub them down with soap and water, dry them out and then put them back out. But in the winter we have a lot more moisture, a lot more rain and what happens is the seed will build up, it can mold, it can cause toxins that will hurt your birds. Fortunately, most birds are smart enough to stop eating when that happens. This is a bird feeder I've had for quite awhile. It's pretty beat up and I brought it out here so I can kind of show you some of the things that happen overtime. I always take them down even if I'm going to put them back up for winter and I take a good look and do a little bit of repair. This one has been damaged by squirrels as you can see right here, there's a lot of nut marks, so, even though I normally would just oil this up, tighten it, maybe put a little bit glue on it; this one's kind of, this one is, is damaged to the point where the seed falls out. So, this one may not go back out. But, what I've done is I've tried to figure out ways that I could avoid squirrel problems because I have a lot of them and I always will. I have this other kind of bird feeder and I found overtime that this one works pretty well for me because first of all, squirrels like to hang on bird feeders. And when they do that, the seed falls out. So, this one's really nice because it can be put on a post really easy and they don't seem to want to nut on the Plexiglas. So, if you have problems with squirrels, you might want to consider a different type of bird feeder. But, in the meantime, you can take down the ones that you have and one of the things that you can do, it's not necessary, but, if you want to kind of bring them back to looking good, you can use olive oil, Canola oil, whatever is in your kitchen. You can kind of rub it into that, bring back some of the wood luster and then, just put it in by the heater or by the stove and let it dry before it goes back. And that's just cosmetic. You never want to use paint or anything that can be toxic to the birds. So, if you do want to put a little paint on them, you do want to do some research and make sure it's very safe. I prefer not to use anything like that on mine. Another thing you can do if you have problems where they're a little bit loose like this one, start to come apart a little bit. So, what I'm going to have to do is I'm going to have to use a little bit of glue and what you can do is you can take that, put it back into place; glue it. Use a wood glue; this one right here is an indoor wood glue 'cause you want to find one that says for outdoor use. Otherwise, your glue is going to completely dissolve and it's going to be useless. So, buy the right glue; you can always glue wood and if you need to, you can this, this trusty landscape wire and you can kind of just wire that together, let it dry. So, repairs on, in most repairs I should say is pretty easy, other things like this. And you could always probably replace that with a piece of wood; but I'm not sure if I'm going to. So, once you've gotten them put back together and in good shape, put them back out, fill them with seed but don't forget about them all winter. Go out and check, clean them regular; probably at least monthly, anytime that you see wet seed building up and try to just fill it for two or three days at a time, that'll help. And that's how you care for your bird feeders in winter.

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