Even though it's summer we can still enjoy our feathered friends at our feeders. While birds often decrease their feeder usage during the heat of summer, new bird parents will frequently bring juveniles to feeders to show them the ropes, which gives us a wonderful chance to see family interactions as well as the different plumage colors of the young.
Feeding birds in the summer is similar to feeding birds at other times of year, but there are some things to consider.
First, bird feed that is "in the shell" may germinate within a few days upon reaching the ground. This may cause a weed problem under your feeders in the summer that doesn't occur during wintertime. To alleviate this issue, consider offering a "no-mess" variety of bird food during the summer months. No-mess seed is already out of the shell, and thus, won't germinate. All of the seed will get eaten, and it will prevent a weed infestation under your feeders. We changed to offering no-mess seed in our own yard, and it's changed the look (and maintenance) of our yard dramatically.
Second, because fewer birds come to our feeders in the summer, consider purchasing seed in smaller quantities rather than the typical 20 lb. or 40 lb. bags. This will ensure the seed you do offer will be fresh. Yes, buying seed in bulk is a great way to save money, but during the summer, it may sit for a long time in your storage bin drying out and becoming less palatable to the birds. Furthermore, when the temperature reaches 75 degrees, larvae may hatch out and create a web of caterpillars and moths in your storage bin. While the birds won't mind the added protein, the moths can be a bit of a nuisance and can be difficult to get rid of. The easiest way to prevent this problem is to buy seed in 5 lb. bags, so the seed gets used up at the same rate as during the winter.
Lastly, birds need fresh water daily just as we do. In the heat of summer, offering a place that birds can drink and bathe will actually attract more birds to your yard than your feeding stations will. This is because only some birds eat seed, but all birds need water. Unfortunately, dirty, scummy water is worse than no water at all. So if you decide to add a water feature such as a bird bath, make sure it is easy to keep clean and maintain. Changing the water every couple of days will ensure the birds have fresh, clean water and will prevent algae buildup and mosquito problems as there is not enough time for these issues to develop. As always, an ounce of prevention...
Bird feeding can certainly be enjoyed year round including the height of summer. As long as we follow these tips, it will also be safe for the birds and trouble free.