Keeping Rodents Out

The North American bird feeding industry talks about the many different species of birds you will see once you set up a variety of feeders offering a variety of foods.

They also talk about squirrels both as villains raiding your feeders and as reasons to buy more expensive “squirrel-proof” feeders.

What they don’t talk about though, are mice, rats, voles and other mall rodents.

Every experienced backyard bird feeder knows that bird food is mouse food. Put out food to attract birds, but keep in mind that you are also attracting mice.

With years of bird feeding, seeds falling to the ground, easy meals of peanuts and suet, comes an increase of the general health of the mouse population.

It needn’t be this way. It is possible to feed wild birds without contributing to an explosion in the rodent population in your community. By being aware of the problem and taking some simple precautions, you can attract the wild birds you want to your yard without attracting large numbers of mice.

With more North Americans feeding wild birds today than ever before in history, it makes sense that we pay attention to these details and take care to adopt a set of best practice guidelines now.

Precaution 1 – Food Storage

Store your food in sealed, waterproof containers. Do not simply put the bag on a shelf in the garage. If you do, your garage will soon be infested with mice.

Recycle jars and plastic milk or juice jugs for storing small quantities of bird food.

Precaution 2 – Keep Food Away from Buildings

Fill you feeders outside, not in the garage. Since it is nearly impossible to fill a feeder without spilling some seed on the floor, you are a candidate for a mouse infestation.

You can also store food in weather proof, lock-tite containers outside and fill your feeders far away from my house and garage.

Precaution 3 – Avoid Ground Feeders

Ground feeders are useful for attracting some kinds of birds (such as Chipping Sparrows), but in most cases a large platform feeder stationed near but not on the ground will do the trick just as well.

Precaution 4 – Talk To The Industry

Canmore, AB has passed a bylaw outlawing bird feeders because they attract Black Bears. This is what happens when an industry tries to ignore a problem instead of meeting it head on.

Talk to the industry through your local wild bird food store. Encourage food and feeder manufacturers to adopt a set of best practices guidelines for bird feeding enthusiasts. Ask them to include a one page outline of these guidelines in every unit they sell to consumers.

Ask your bird food retailer to sell weather proof storage containers and warn customers of the dangers of sloppy feeding practices. The last thing we feeding enthusiasts want to see are bylaws outlawing feeders because they attract mice or coyotes or bears.

Precaution 5 – Keep it Clean

Going out to fill your feeders is only half of the job. You are not done until you have cleaned up as much of the ground waste beneath the feeders as you can.