Summer Activities to Help You Attract More Colorful Birds
A couple days ago, I was in my front garden hanging a freshly-filled hummingbird feeder and my neighbor approached me. We've had quite a few conversations about wild birds since I moved in several years ago, so this was nothing new. What was new was her comment that was something like, "You must get really bored in the summer since there is so little you need to do to take care of your outdoor birds." At first, I was shocked that she thought this was basically time-off from caring for my wild birds. But then I realized that she just might be typical of people who don't know how to attract more birds and keep things interesting. So I conceived this list of things to do in the summer.

Keep your hummingbird feeders filled with fresh nectar. If you are a hummingbird lover, this is your time of year, so you'll want to do everything you can to keep the little birds happy and healthy! Nectar that has turned cloudy is nectar that contains deadly bacteria. You should empty, rinse, and refill your feeders 2-3 times a week. During extremely hot conditions or if you see cloudy nectar, you'll need to do this more often. You can use a clean bottle brush, but don't use soap.

Clean out your birdhouses after each clutch. Most cavity-nesting species will lay 2-3 clutches each year. A filthy nest will often be abandoned in favor of another location, or worse yet, may cause the hen to stop laying. You can experience the joy of watching more babies by simply cleaning between clutches.

Clean your bird feeders regularly. Heat waves, rainfall, and humid temperatures create a favorable environment for molds and other toxins that have the potential to harm the birds you love. Check for mold and clumpy seed and discard (but don't just dump the contents on the ground). The best way to clean seed feeders is to soak them in hot, soapy water, scrub, rinse, and dry. To help prevent mold growth, be certain they are completely dry before refilling.

Remove shell debris from beneath your feeders. Piles of seed shells beneath feeders typically are areas of mold including the fungi known as Aspergillus, which produce deadly aflatoxins. A variety of ground-feeding birds will visit the area beneath your feeders and you'll want to know you did your part to protect them.

Avoid pruning bushes and trees during nesting season. Many birds nest in dense foliage. Disrupting them has the potential to result in abandoned nests or to remove the nests as branches holding them are discarded. You're plants won't mind if you wait until fall.

Most importantly, don't forget to sit back and enjoy the birds and their cute chicks as they visit your bird baths, feeders, and scour your garden for tasty insects!

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