Winter has begun, but it’s not too late to put out bird feeders. Our winged friends will thank you for placing feeders thoughtfully in your yard and for keeping them clean. Here are some tips to help get you started.

Place your bird feeders thoughtfully

Make sure your feeders are in a place where birds can be protected from predators and aren’t at risk of flying into a closed window. To be safe, place bird feeders around 5-8 feet off the ground, out of reach of cats and far enough away from structures squirrels may use to access the feeder.

The best area to place a bird feeder would be about 6 feet high and 10 feet away from the nearest tree. This allows space from the tree that the birds can retreat to if there are predators, far enough away the it is unlikely that a squirrel will reach the feeder and high enough that cats shouldn’t be able to reach the birds before they can fly away.

Be sure to periodically remove the shells from under the feeder, as they can harbor bacteria; note that they can contaminate a compost pile.

Clean and sanitize bird feeders

Birds like tidy homes and feeders. Below are four ways to clean your bird feeder. Just make sure you wear gloves and use a brush that you keep separate for feeder cleaning so you don’t spread any diseases.

  1. Many experts recommend soaking your feeder in a solution of one part bleach to nine parts water for a half an hour. Rinse the feeder and let it dry before reusing.
  2. Disassemble bird feeder, place in dishwasher on high heat setting and wash.
  3. Disassemble bird feeder and soak in boiling water and dish soap for 15 minutes.
  4. Disassemble bird feeder and soak in hot water for 15 minutes, then scrub with dish soap.

After you clean up your bird feeders, tidy up the area around the feeding site. You’ll want to clean feeders and the surrounding area on a regular basis, preferably every other week.

Restock your bird feeders

Get rid of old seeds, which can become moldy, make birds sick and attract other animals, such as raccoons. Once you dispose of old seeds, replenish your clean bird feeder with a healthy portion of fresh seeds.

Spring will be here before you know it and birds will be migrating back to West Virginia in search of a place to eat and nest, so take some time to learn more about watching birds. It’s an enjoyable and educational activity the entire family will enjoy!