Monday, September 08, 2008

Shopping for Bird Feeders

I've worked in a wildlife habitat store and offered food to backyard birds for over 10 years. How do I pick a bird feeder? I follow one simple rule - SES.

Simple - Easy - Sturdy

Once you start to look for a bird feeder keep this rule in mind. No matter what kind of food you are using or bird you are trying to attract, you will be more successful if you follow SES.

SIMPLE - The birds do not care how much you spend on a feeder. They do not care if the feeder is handmade and decorated with copper filigree. They do not care if the glass was hand blown in Spain. Remember what the birds are interested in, eating. Anti-squirrel action may entertain you, but if it makes it harder for the birds to eat, it isn’t a plus. Birds want simple access to food. Some decorative bird feeders are works of art, but save the art for after you are established and know your clientele. SIMPLE feeders have fewer moving parts and less to break.

EASY - Refilling the feeder with food and cleaning the feeder should be EASY. Everyone’s definition of easy is different, but be honest with yourself about what you are willing to do. If it is difficult or time consuming, you won’t do it. Like any food supplier, you must be consistent. If there is no food or the food is spoiled, you will be out of business. Look for a bird feeder that is easy to open, easy to fill and easy to take apart and clean.

One thing I like about quality tube feeders is they are easy to take apart and scrub. “Do I have to clean my bird feeder?” Afraid so. Just like any restaurant table, the more patrons, the more you will have to clean it. Soap and water is the easiest way to clean. If your feeder won’t stand up to soap and water, reconsider.

STURDY - A bird feeder should be sturdy. If parts are breaking off, you will avoid filling it. Sharp edges or broken bits may endanger feeding birds. Determine which materials are most STURDY for your location. Wood may last forever in a dry mild climate or waste away to a soggy mess in a rainy area. In the Southwest, ultraviolet rays can degrade plastic in a single summer. More expense feeders tend to use UV resistant plastics. Cheap metal can fall ill to rust, but steel bibs on plastic openings can provide protection and durability.

As you weigh one bird feeder against another, remember SES - Simple, Easy, Sturdy. If the blown glass feeder is calling you but doesn’t pass the SES test, think again.

No comments: