Bird Feeders Attract Birds, and Rodents…and Snakes!
By Chris Williams on October 1, 2012.
After years of feeding birds in my yard, I can confirm that bird feeders and rodents go hand-in-hand. If you have bird feeders outside and you don’t diligently clean up spilled and scattered seed, you will probably eventually have mice moving into the area to take advantage of the free food. And not just mice, voles like to live around bird feeders, too. If you live on a farm or in a city, you might even have rats attracted to your feeders. Squirrels are rodents too, and love bird feeders—but squirrels are another issue.
Reasons Why You Do Not Want Rodents Outside Your Home
There are several reasons why it’s not a good idea to have an outdoor population of mice:
- Mice can move into your house, especially in the fall.
- Snakes feed on mice and will be attracted into your yard as well (this can be a good or bad thing depending on how you feel about snakes and whether or not you have poisonous snakes in your area).
- Deer mice and white-footed mice are implicated in certain diseases that can be spread to people, especially Lyme disease.
- Voles can be real problems if you have a garden nearby. They feed on plants and roots, as well as birdseed.
I can’t tell you not to feed birds. Feeding and watching birds provides a lot of pleasure. Whether or not your feeders will attract rodents too depends on how many feeders you have (I have lots), how often you feed (I do it year round), and how well you maintain the feeders (I could do better). There are preventive steps you can take to help keep your bird feeders from attracting mice which can then move into your home:
Tips on How to Make Your Bird Feeder Mouse-Free
- Install bird feeders away from the house.
- Mount feeders on a pole or hang them in such a way that rodents (including squirrels) can’t get to them. Use pole guards or wire guards to keep rodents from reaching the feeder.
- Use feeders that have a catch tray beneath to hold spilled seed.
- Clean spilled seed from the ground under the feeders regularly.
- Don’t place rodent nesting materials near bird feeders since rodents like to nest near their food source. This means keep stacked boards, mulch piles, and other stored materials away from the bird feeders. These nesting areas plus food from the feeders are a double incentive for mice.
- Be careful about how you store birdseed. Whether you store it outside or inside, keep it in a metal or glass container with a tight-fitting lid, or store the bag in a refrigerator or freezer. Mice can easily find and chew into a bag of birdseed.
You can help keep mice outside by making sure you house is as mouse-proof as possible. Screen vents, install door sweeps, and caulk gaps around foundations, vents, window A/C units, soffits, utility conduits, etc. Mice don’t need much of an opening; if you can fit a pencil into the gap, a young mouse can squeeze through. If you’re having a problem with mice, either outside or inside, or need someone to mouse-proof your home, give Colonial Pest Control a call for mouse removal.