Scooter says, “Heads’up, Folks!” Your backyard habitat and its visitors require some special care during Florida’s hot and humid summer temps!

ImageWhile maintaining feeders, houses and general backyard habitat areas during winter and spring are usually paramount, we can be lulled into a sense of granted comfort when Florida’s temps rise and we think our wild bird visitors have it all under control.

Scooter is here to say, “They don’t!”

As spring inches in, we’re excited to indulge in our wild bird feeding frenzies by cleaning and prepping feeders and houses for the onslaught of Florida’s northern wild bird cousins coming to migrate. We preen their feeders, purchase new Advanced Pole Systems and thwart squirrel activity with baffles and anti-squirrel arsenals – ad nauseam. In winter, we sadly make marked notation of the lack of backyard activities –but for the odd mockingbird or ground-feeding mourning dove out for a fast breakfast. We may remove feeders for cleaning and storage, stop the consistent refill of our bird baths, and cut back on the amount of suet we provide.

However, summer seems sorely lacking in its attention to the details of consistently caring for our wild bird feeding supplies. And, in doing so, we tend to forget that the birds can fall victim to this lack of attention to detail.

dinner bell feederDuring summer, birds require high-protein, high-energy foods as well as a healthy water source. Making sure this is supplied in as consistent and as healthy a manner as possible can make or break a wild bird’s summertime visit to your Florida backyard habitat. A few simple assurances can go a long way to ensure a happy, healthy and inviting backyard habitat for your favorite Florida wild birds.

Scooter has a few suggestions:

Hummingbird Feeders: Never underestimate the diminutive Hummer! They are a wise bunch and will turn their hummingbird feeder wbubeaks up at spoiled or rancid nectar. Make sure each feeder is properly cleaned every 3 or 4 days. Replace the nectar at each cleaning using a solution of four parts water to one part sugar. Hummers will also fly right by a feeder full of ants or other pests. To avoid this, Wild Birds Unlimited in Clearwater/Safety Harbor suggests using their High Perch Hummingbird Feeder. Complete with a moat, ants cannot reach the hummingbird nectar once trapped by the water in the moat cavity. Do not use Vaseline, baby oil or other substances to keep insects from entering any bird feeder. The substance may spread on the wild birds and cause damage to their feathers. It’s best to maintain a consistent summertime cleaning schedule with your Hummingbird feeders.

cage feederSeed Feeders: All feeders can retain bits and pieces of seed from leftover feedings. Unless properly maintained, these bits of seed can become rancid. If left in the feeder when new seed is applied, the rancid, moldy or mildewed seed can contaminate the entire seed store. During the summer months, when florida’s heat and humidity is at its highest, this can cause a great loss of perfectly good seed and a loss of wild bird activity. If possible, use a WBU Classic feeder from Wild Birds Unlimited in Clearwater/safety Harbor to ensure your seed stays dry in any weather condition. However, even the tightest feeders can retain moisture. After it rains, shake the feeders to help dissipate any water or condensation that may have built up inside the feeders and on the seed. Tray feeders should be drained of excess water and pat dried if need be. Ever see a reconstituted mealworm? You don’t want to! No matter the feeder or the weather condition, clean each feeder completely before refills. This will make for a consistently healthy seed store for your favorite wild bird visitors!

Sweep and Scrub: Have any feeders placed over decks or stone/brickwork patios? Uh-Huh… have you checked betweengrass growing on deck the cracks lately? Unless you’re going for that “English Garden” look of old, keep it swept and scrubbed. As neat as they try to be, Florida’s wild birds can be a sloppy mess. Seeds can fall to the ground even from the best of feeders. These can sprout and grow plantlife easily during Florida’s summer months when rains fall and sunshine is abundant. While some sprouts may be attractive, they can pose quite a maintenance issue if gone unnoticed. It’s best to clean the bird feeding areas consistently to avoid an unkempt or untidy appearance.

sprinkler bird bath WBUBird Baths: During Florida’s hot and humid summer months, even the wild birds can use a dip! But, not in a hot bath! If possible, always place bird baths in a shaded or semi-shaded area. This will prevent water from dehydrating and from becoming too hot for the birds to enjoy comfortably. Wild Birds Unlimited suggests its WBU Nature’s Dripper. With a misting/dripping action, this bird bath accessory provides our wild bird visitors a restful respite from Florida’s hot temps! *If replacing water cannot be done consistently, try this fun and easy birdbath tip: Fill an empty milk jug with water and place in a freezer overnight. Remove in the morning and poke several holes around the bottom portion and on the sides. Fill your bird bath with cool water and place the jug in the center (use a quart jug for a smaller bath). As the day travels on, the ice water will melt and dissipate with the heat of the day while keeping your bird bath consistently full and cool.

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 So, as we enjoy the hazy dog days of summer in our Florida wild bird backyard habitats, lets not get too lazy about it! Wild Birds Unlimited in Clearwater/Safety Harbor suggests a simple weekly check on your feeders, wild bird feeding supplies and areas to ensure a happy and healthy backyard habitat all the way into Florida’s fall weather!

 

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Hammock Bird Banding

A dynamic update on the Migratory Bird Banding Project in Hammock Park, Dunedin, Florida.

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