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Bird Feeders Attract More Than Just Birds

By Chris Williams on January 11, 2017.

We recently moved into a new house in a suburban area and have been enjoying feeding birds. We have a feeder pole in the backyard with four different feeders on it. My neighbor said bird feeders attract rats and even snakes into your yard and we should consider taking it down. I think he’s really worried about his own yard. Is any of this true? C. B., Braintree, MA

Actually, what your neighbor says can be true, it all depends on the circumstances. Think about it, feeders are full of seed which is a primary food for many animals, rodents especially. “Rodents” includes squirrels, chipmunks, mice, voles, and yes, rats. Once rodents discover a feeder, expect them to set up shop nearby (see The Vole – Bird Feeder Connection).

Birdseed = Rodents = Snakes

Mammals are more apt to raid your feeders when food is scarce or hidden by snow cover. In winter and at night, you may see raccoons, skunks, or opossums (or their tracks) under your feeder pole. Deer will even visit feeders for winter feed. If you also put out suet, you will get even more interest. Having wildlife visiting your yard can be educational but is generally not recommended. If these animals end up visiting frequently or denning on your property, you could be subject to damage, parasites, and disease.

And what about snakes? Snakes don’t eat seed but they do eat rodents that eat seed. This means that if your feeders attract mice and voles into your yard for the free spilled seed, snakes may also be attracted for the suddenly available mice (see Eliminate Mice to Eliminate Snakes). Many people view this as a problem that takes care of itself, the cycle of life and all that. But if you can’t stand the idea of rodents or snakes, or other animals in your yard, you should consider if and how you want to feed birds.

The less birdseed that sits on the ground, the less likely that you will have foraging animals. Use feeders that have a catch tray for spilled seed and clean up spilled seed under feeders routinely. In most cases, ground-feeding birds will take care of seed on the ground. Your real challenge will be to keep squirrels from climbing your feeder pole and dumping seed (see How to to Keep Squirrels Off of Bird Feeders).

Bird Feeding Can Also Result in Indoor Pests

There can also be indoor pest issues related to feeding birds. Those who store large quantities of birdseed in their homes or garages can find themselves infested with stored food insects, particularly food moths and certain beetles (see Can Food Moths Come From Bird Seed?). These insects may initially infest the birdseed but can move into other stored foods in your home kitchen. Birdseed stored in your home is also an attractant for mice. Indoor mice often hoard birdseed that they don’t eat initially in hidden areas. Again, proper storage and maintenance of the supply of birdseed is the answer. Keep it in a tightly sealed container and keep it dry. Use it up before it gets too old.

Having said all that, there’s really no reason to give up feeding birds unless a real pest problem develops as a result. Enjoy the birds but call us if other creatures interfere with that pleasure. Keep in mind that Colonial Pest is certified to handle pests of all sizes, from Indian meal moths to foraging raccoons.

Source : Pixabay

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