DYI Bird-Bath and Effortless Hummingbird Feeder Cleaning

Not a lot to this post, unless you like Birds. Especially Birds in your yard. I learned my enjoyment of birds from my Father. When I was young, he worked much of the week. One of the first things he did when getting home was fill his bird feeder with seed.

On a side note, my Father’s Bird Feeder was an upside down car hub cap on top of a galvanized pipe, stuck into the ground. The birds never seemed to mind. He also expanded into making Wren houses, raising Pheasants, Homing Pigeons (which flew back to their previous owner without fail), Chickens and Turkeys.

My Father’s Bird-Bath was the same. A second hub cap attached to a galvanized pipe, stuck into the ground. When I lived on my own, and took in (one at a time) stray cats which spent my out of town time outside, neighborhood sparrows were well fed on leftover bread. This kept a large bird population for the Cat to dine on when I wasn’t home. Lazy animal husbandry in action.

I’m now on my third Bird-Bath in one year. It hasn’t been a good time for Bird-Baths in my back yard. The first Bird-Bath broke in half. The second, laying on the ground in pieces in the bottom of the photograph, I thought was broken by wind. The third one, on the bottom left was knocked off the second night it was used. There have been sightings of Raccoon and Bobcat in the neighborhood this spring, so these may be the culprit knocking the baths down due to their weight. This is odd, because I am at least two miles from any wild areas.

I went to a second hand store looking for a cheap plastic something that would work as a bird bath and not break if knocked down. I found the current plastic ‘skylight’ Bird-Bath for $1.99.

I had my doubts it would work, as it doesn’t hold a lot of water and needs filling almost daily during these hot summer days. The skylight would fall off the pedestal in the slightest breeze, which was also a problem. Fortunately, I found the big piece of lava rock that is now sitting in the middle of the Bird-Bath. I fill the clay bath on the ground daily too.

The big piece of lava rock, displaced half the water holding ability, but the skylight hasn’t ‘fallen’ off. Considering the total cost of two dollars and change, I choose not to complain about the need for daily filling.

Bird-Baths do not need to be expensive. $1.99 for this incarnation!

Whet I do find fascinating about this most recent version of a Bird-Bath, is the number of Birds that show up and drink out of it! I have become spoiled over the years by Sparrows, Finches, Hawks, Robbins and Doves showing up throughout the day. With this newest Bird-Bath incarnation, the numbers of birds have increased four-fold!

I am not complaining, but rather, I am confused about why, when I had ‘real’ (and expensive) bird baths, the birds came hesitantly. Even with a sprinkler in the bath. Yet this cheap piece of oddly shaped plastic with a rock in the middle, really draws the birds in.

Bird related, I came up with an idea for my Hummingbird feeders, of which I have two. Instead of scrubbing the mold and slime out of them every three days when I put out a clean feeder, I came up with a no fuss solution. I empty the used feeder, rinse it, and place it in a covered bucket of bleach water.

After three days in bleach water, all the feeders need is a good rinse before use, to ensure the bleach water is rinsed off. I use 1/2 cup bleach per gallon of water. Being covered stops evaporation, so I will have enough solution for the rest of the season.

The Hummingbirds too are more prevalent now, and I am not scrubbing Hummingbird feeders in the kitchen sink, which makes my wife happy. If I forget to pull in a feeder after three days, I don’t have mold building up in the top of the feeder.

That’s it for this post, a bird loving bath, and no scrub Hummingbird feeders. Give my ideas a try, and let me know how they work for you.

Hummingbird Feeding in the Fall

When it comes to Humming birds and the fall, people hear things about Hummingbirds they tend to believe. Around here it is a Labor Day event. Well meaning people faithfully feed Hummingbirds starting in the early spring, throughout the summer and into the fall.

Once Labor Day arrives, to many people pull their feeders because it has been passed from mouth to mouth so many times it must be true, “Hummingbirds need to head south for the winter after Labor Day”. Unfortunately, no one has ever told the hummingbirds.

In the fall, first year hummingbirds are still putting on weight for the arduous flight ahead. The parents, who spent the summer feeding their offspring, finally get to keep all their food to themselves. Can you imagine what happens when the Hummingbirds come to their feeders to find they are missing?

Taking in hummingbird feeders too early, is like hauling away your refrigerator on Labor Day. What do the birds do for the energy they need to head south? They are forced to start their migration early, because unlike a natural process where the food supply goes away naturally, the go from feast to famine overnight.

Not only the effect on the local birds, but pulling your feeder from the yard effects any hummingbirds who are looking for food on their flight south. They may remember there was food their last year and head for your feeder. Only to find air where the feeder was last year.

There is a number of weeks between Labor Day and frost. During these weeks, local and traveling hummingbirds need your feeder. Leave it out with fresh syrup. It doesn’t cost much, and the hummingbirds will remember your feeder on the return trip.

I have two pictures here. One about syrup, and the second about cleaning your feeder. I have two feeders, so the process is simple. I fill up the second feeder with a ratio of 1:4 sugar to water. In my case that is 1/2 cup sugar to 2 cups water. Some people use less sugar and others use more. The water needs to be fresh and clean. Try not to get your fingers or other containments in the mix. I use room temperature water, and the sugar dissolves within minutes with steady stirring.

Many people use a 1:4 sugar to water ratio

Many people use a 1:4 sugar to water ratio

This second picture is how I clean the feeders between use. Feeders are community food bowls for Hummingbirds. They get dirty and moldy, so I take care to clean them well. First I wash and rinse them just like any pot or pan. Then I soak the feeder in a bucket of water and bleach. On the third morning I take it out to let the feeder dry out. Later in the day, I make a fresh batch of syrup and put it out in the now cleaned feeder.

It's a good idea to bleach any bird feeder now and then

It’s a good idea to bleach any bird feeder now and then