Feeding our fine feathered friends is a worthy cause, especially for hungry cardinals, blue jays, Carolina chickadees and many others that winter over in our area. However, if you erect a birdfeeder, toxic shells, weed sprouts and unwanted critters could pose potential threats in your yard. Take the following steps to get rid of birdseed in your lawn while keeping the birds well fed.
Stop the Squirrels
Squirrels can dump significant amounts of seed from a bird feeder in a matter of seconds and eat through an entire bag of seed in a day or two. Although notoriously persistent, they can be discouraged with squirrel-proof feeders readily available online. Many effective feeders are weight sensitive and close under a squirrel’s heft. Others feature a protective cage around a cylindrical feeder or a cone-shaped baffle on the pole.
Choose High Quality Seed
Birds often throw seed in search of better fare. Skip the cheap birdseed, which often includes fillers like wheat or red milo that birds typically won’t eat. Opt instead for bird-approved mixes of cracked sunflower seeds, white millet and cracked corn. You may need to order from a specialty shop rather than a big box store.
If you notice a particular group of troublemakers—finches, for example, on the search for sunflower and Niger (thistle) seed—consider setting up a separate feeder with their favorites. Sunflower hulls are toxic to grass and many other plants, so mixes with cracked sunflower seeds, also called sunflower hearts, will help protect your lawn.
Attract Ground Feeders
Birds like mourning doves and eastern towhees prefer to eat at the ground level, often cleaning up seed dropped by messier birds above. Encourage ground feeders with a designated patch of bare ground under the bird feeder. Birdseed can cause weeds in a lawn, but the bare patch allows you to easily pick any weed sprouts before they mature and infiltrate your lawn. A ring of decorative rock or pavers will give the spot a purposeful look and help contain the seeds.
If bare ground is not your style, consider installing your bird feeder over pavers or concrete that can be easily and regularly cleaned. In addition to weed sprouts from uneaten seeds, rotting seeds and shells in the feeder or on the ground can spread disease to birds. Also, unwanted wildlife like mice, rats and raccoons may be attracted to your yard for an easy meal and could even take up residence.
If you have more bird feeding questions, visit the Georgia State Parks site for information, including an additional resource list. If you have lawn questions, contact our Certified Turfgrass Professionals at 770.832.8608 or info@NGTurf.com.