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How To Keep Your Tube Feeders Inviting

the moist deposits of seed in this feeder blew the bottom right off when it froze!Dear Friends:

Frequently we hear folks comment: "my thistle feeder attracts birds only when it's full of seed, when it's half empty the activity declines and when it's a 1/4 full they rarely come to eat!" We have experienced the same thing at our feeders. What likely is happening is: over time the seed in the tube feeder is absorbing moisture...and it can happen in all seasons. When we add seed to a half-filled feeder the fresh seed sits on the top and the older seed continues to absorb moisture and begins to pack at the bottom. Not only is this seed at the bottom less attractive to the birds, it's difficult for the birds to get the wet seeds out of the feeder. Eventually a thick cake of seed and debris builds at the bottom of the feeder and a thorough cleaning is the only remedy.

Some people call it "topping off feeders" when adding more seed on top of older seeds and the effects can be harmful to your feeding equipment. Recently, a longtime customer and faithful birding enthusiast brought in a thistle feeder (right) that had been damaged from heavy wet seed deposits. When the moist mass froze during this cold winter, the pressure literally blew the bottom of the feeder right off! 

A solution is easier than you might think and will reduce this from happening to you. Cleaning a feeder every few months is essential to the health of the birds, but you may find it's not necessary to clean quite as often if you follow these 3 steps:

  1. before filling the feeder, dump the remaining seed back into your fresh seed (or if it's really wet, trash it). Mix the old and fresh seed;

  2. fill feeder;

  3. re-hang & enjoy the birds. Adding a "Tube Top" dome, shown below right, is another excellent way to keep protect feeders and seed from rain and snow. Several models are available to fit most all Aspects and Droll Yankee feeders.
    [see our tube feeder page for details] »

avoid "topping-off" - recycle or dispose of old seed seed cans keep your storage fresh and clean a dome helps keep seed dry

Keep it clean, folks. Your birds will thank you.
Louise Dawson

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J.J. Cardinal's Wild Bird & Nature Store ®
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12830 S. Saginaw Street, Grand Blanc, MI   810-695-8733
posted 01/31/04 illustrations, text & fun © J.J. Cardinal's 1992-2004
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