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Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Safely cleaning gunky, wooden suet feeders

"Before"  (Yellow-throated Warbler)

After several years, oil from suet and/or peanut butter will leach into wooden suet feeders. The bacteria that can then grow on the wood can harm birds.

You can use a simple solution of water and bleach (10 to 1) to safely clean it. I'd soak it in the solution for about an hour, scrub it, rinse it with fresh water, then let it air dry.

In case you're thinking that any bleach residue will hurt birds; Household bleach from the bottle is diluted to 5 to 9 percent already. If you then dilute it further, at 10 to 1, any bleach residue (sodium hypochlorite) will be negligible.

Privacy fences can have unintended consequences. Cats instinctively use them to trap young birds (that are unable to fly yet).l

Rather than eliminating the fence or the cat, I suggest planting some sort of dense vegetation at the base of a fence, allowing the fledgling bird to hide, or climb up the vegetation instead of being fatally trapped. In north Texas, vines such as Coral Honeysuckle, Virginia Creeper, grape or even annual Morning Glory will do the job. Excellent dense plants for Texas yards are Lantana and Mistflower.

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