We love feeding the birds, but they drop seeds on our balcony and attract mice, rats, and squirrels. What can we do to keep rodents away while feeding birds? -Mary Lou
Birds and rodents both love to eat seeds; so where there’s one, there’s likely to be the other. Squirrels, mice, and rats can invade feeders; and they’re particularly fond of foraging on the ground for spilled seed and hulls. To keep rodents of all kinds away from your bird feeder, you need to manage the mess the birds leave behind.
Try these tips to discourage rodents while enjoying birds at your feeder:
Use a Seed Tray: Install a seed catcher tray on your feeder pole, to catch stray seeds and hulls that the birds drop as they eat. Some feeders come with detachable trays, or you can buy pole-mounted ones. Check out the Clever Clean Seed Tray from Droll Yankees, the Plastic Seed Saver Tray from Heath, and larger pole mounted trays from Birds Choice. An advantage of pole mounted trays is that the collected seed offers a second feeding platform for the birds.
Choose No Waste Bird Food: A number of bird feeding options are available that reduce the amount of waste that’s dropped (thereby reducing the temptation for rodents). Look for hulled seeds, including sunflower hearts, shelled peanuts, and hulled millet. You can also try suet, nectar, thistle, or cracked corn.
Clean Up: Use a broom to regularly sweep up seeds and hulls on the ground. You’ll miss out on ground feeding birds, but it’ll discourage rodents.
Store Smart: Store your bird seed in airtight, watertight, rodent-proof containers away from where rodents live. Carry the container out to the bird feeder, rather than shoveling bird food (and spilling waste) in your house or garage.
Locate Feeders Away from House: If you have a choice, place your feeders closer to natural areas, rather than near your house.
Rodent-Proof Your Feeders: Use baffles to prevent rodents from climbing the pole, and place feeders where rodents can’t get to them. Avoid ground feeders if you have a rodent problem.
Rodent-Proof Your House: Because it’s impossible to keep mice and rats completely away outdoors, protect your home by sealing any cracks and openings where they might get inside.