There’s a few easy ways to deter unwanted guests and get back to the most enjoyable hobby of feeding the birds!
Use Seed Trays: Adjustable bird seed trays aren’t just for hanging bird feeders, you can use them right on garden poles too. Depending on your set-up, there’s a seed tray that will work. Recycled plastic and wooden birdseed trays (or seed catchers) feature tough metal screens that are easy to clean. These are perfect for 4×4 wood posts where the bird feeder is mounted on- or hanging from the top of post. The large platform areas also create additional feeding space for other birds who may not use the feeder itself, so it’s like getting an extra feeder for free.
Feed Clean: Because birds are like little kids, they tend to go for the good stuff- or rather the premium bits found in some seed mixes. Less expensive birdseed is really no bargain at all… when the seed is discarded and kicked out onto the ground, it becomes an open invite for pests!
Start with quality seed so there’s no waste left behind in the first place. No-Mess or No-Waste seed mixes may cost a little more but they do what their name implies. Sunflower hearts are also a great option for no-mess feeding because lots of different birds will partake. When high quality mixes are purchased in larger size bags, the cost is basically offset as to buying cheaper seed in small quantities. And everything is consumed by birds – not left on the ground for pests!
Use baffles: Keep pests (and squirrels) from climbing up to bird feeders. Some folks insist baffles don’t work- but they need to be installed correctly! You must be sure critters can’t jump sideways from something that allows them access to the feeder via super vault… a skill at which they’re quite capable!
Offer water: By far, the easiest and most effective way to attract birds! Fresh water is visited by birds who may not even use feeders, and especially during frigid weather- when natural water sources tend to freeze, it can be a life-saving element for your resident friendly fliers braving the elements.
Try one or a few of these options if you’ve given up on feeding feathered friends… you may be pleasantly surprised as the results should prove successful!
Because ground waste can easily spoil and become moldy, it poses the threat of illness to birds. It may attract less desirable critters as well, causing many to give up on feeding the birds 🙁 But larger bird seed trays like these do so much more than just catch fallen seed!
Not only for hanging feeders, but the big diameter style may be used with a pole mounted feeder as well, imagine that! It offers an extra feeding area for birds who may not even perch at the feeder itself. Simply by cutting a slit in the center of the durable mesh netting, it slides on and off the pole for easy cleaning.
In a pinch, or as an extra option, a small dish may be placed on the platform to offer some variety for birds. We use a small clay saucer to hold mealworms for our bluebirds, phoebes and warblers. Luckily, goldfinches don’t care for worms… or they’d be gone in a flash!
Setting up a small dish-like feeder with worms is most helpful when mom and dad bluebird are teaching their fledglings how to access the goods!
These affordable and innovative seed catchers are a delight to birds and hosts alike! Anything that keeps ground mess to a minimum, offers additional feeding space to see more birds, and even lets you create a new feeder on the platform will absolutely enhance the backyard birding experience. We use them at home too- so validated as pretty cool by our standards!
Whether hanging or pole-mounted, there’s a solution with bird seed trays. This one is adjustable and accommodates almost any style feeder out there! Although the Seed Hoops hang, they’ll slide nicely right over a pole as well. It’s as simple as cutting a small slit in the center of the tray.
A few other measures to avoid ground mess or at least reduce its presence, is using a no-waste seed. Because there are no fillers, birds are less likely to sort through and pick out the good stuff! Fillers are what ends up on the ground anyway, millet, milo and corn being most common. Sunflower hearts are always a great choice, and you can bet anything that does land on the ground gets scarfed up quickly.
Suet is another alternative for clean feeding. Many birds will partake and there’s no waste. Thistle’s also a good choice as these seeds will not germinate. You won’t see as many species with thistle alone (mostly finches), but when offered along with suet, there should be a good variety. Chickadees, nuthatches, warblers, woodpeckers, and even bluebirds in winter will go for suet.
So if the feeding mess has you down, don’t give up the ship yet… try using a bird seed tray and offering cleaner seed. The birds are worth it 🙂
Add them to a post, add them to a bird feeder pole, or hang them… seed trays greatly reduce ground mess and waste. Spilled seed can lead to other problems, like mold which is unhealthy for ground feeding birds, and may attract some unwanted visitors too. Over the years we’ve heard from many folks (especially in the city) who stop feeding birds altogether due to rats… yuck!
Clean feeding is easy with bird seed trays or seed catchers. Using a no-waste seed mix or sunflower hearts also helps alleviate ground mess. They’re pure with no filers – which is what ends up on the ground anyway. Milo, red millet, cracked corn and oats don’t really serve birds well at all, they’ll toss it right out of the feeder on purpose!
Newer designs in recycled plastic make it possible to add the generous-size trays to a 4×4 post or standard garden pole. The large area is inviting to some birds who may never have visited the feeder before. Adjustable Seed Hoops fit almost any type feeder out there, and come in 16-and 30-inch diameter. The smaller size is ideal for tube styles, while the large tray is best for hopper bird feeders.
Should you happen to be one of the “I don’t feed birds in summer” folks – just know that backyard feeders are hopping with activity now as most birds have nestlings to feed. The show of migratory birds passing through is colorful and quite dazzling to catch… so don’t give up the ship due to ground mess!
*Use seed trays to minimize waste
*Switch to cleaner seed mixes with no fillers
*Try No-Melt Suet Doughs for warm weather feeding
*Offer fruit & jelly for migratory birds- it leaves no waste
*Feed dried mealworms (boil and steep to soften) for a real treat!
They’ve come a long way since the standard, puny metal or plastic tray. New designs like this Seed Hoop offer much more than a waste-free feeding area. For starters, they’re adjustable and attach to almost any feeder, regardless of its size. Combined with a huge 30-inch diameter, these bird seed trays catch any and all fallen seed, and so versatile, they can even be pole mounted below a feeder. Sturdy mesh makes them a snap to clean with the hose, light-weight, easy to handle, and no tools required.
Also available in a smaller 16-inch diameter, they create a generous platform area that’s like having a second bird feeder. New visitors who’ve never used the feeder, especially during spring migrations, are likely to stop by and grace your yard! In the last few days we’ve been watching a stunning pair of red breasted grosbeaks chowing down on sunflower mix. They eat fallen seed on the tray, as well as from the feeder itself.
Messy ground waste below feeders… yuk! It’s not a pretty site, creates an unhealthy feeding environment and may even attract some unwanted guests. The mess even deters some folks from feeding the birds all together 🙁
Couldn’t say how many calls we’ve received about feeders attracting rats to the yard… double yuk! Using a premium “no-waste” seed mix, or sunflower hearts may help to avoid the mess. It’s usually the stuff birds don’t want anyway that ends up o the ground (millet, milo and corn). Plus these fillers tend to attract some less desirable birds like crows, house sparrows and other predatory-type birds.
You can still feed the birds and avoid the ground waste using bird seed trays that work. These models are recycled plastic and made for standard one-inch poles or a 4×4 wood posts. Just place one of these fine babies below your feeder and forget the mess. They may not look so large in the photo – but they are very generously sized! Measuring 23×21, these seed trays are proudly made in the US from plastic containers at landfills. Each comes with a label telling you how many containers were used to manufacture the tray. And that’s all well & good, but these recycled materials also come with lifetime guarantees against warping, cracking, splitting or rotting. Now that’s a beautiful thing!
Each seed catcher or bird seed tray has removable screens for easy cleaning. Another cool aspect of using trays like these is new visitors are likely to check it out. The large, flat area containing spilled seed creates a second feeding spot for birds who may never perch at your feeder. Save seed, save money, feed more birds!
He sits, waits and watches, almost on a daily basis for the past few weeks. This guy is huge too, a Sharp Shinned Hawk on the prowl for a quick meal, and pickin’s are good in a yard where there’s lots of feeders and birdbaths. The call is blood-curdling prior to landing, all songbirds scatter… fast! Luckily there’s also good cover for protection from such predators, but one must be be quick!
Lately he’s been perching on the finch bird feeder, a good central spot offering spanning views of the yard and unassuming victims. Last week when I looked out, there were actually two hawks, (a double omg!) so one must be a juvenile. They’re so darn big it’s hard to tell!
The last few days I haven’t seen them, but have witnessed strange behavior from the Blue Jays. They’re screaming wildly and loud, almost as if to mimic the hawks. Someone once mentioned Jays will do this to keep hawks away. Well, if that’s the case, then bravo to these smart birds who some find to be a nuisance.
By the way, this feeder is fitted with a 30″ Seed Hoop which catches waste and attracts some other birds who never use the feeder itself.
Spilled seed is a major attractant of rats and other unwanted guests, in rural and especially in urban areas. The first reaction is usually: “Oh no, I have to stop feeding the birds now.” Not true!
There are some fairly simple methods to stopping the madness. One is to use seed catchers or seed trays which prevent spilled seed in the first place. The large platform area of some seed trays will attract new birds who have never used the feeder.
Another way to avoid these unwanted guests while still feeding your birds is to feed a high quality seed. Less expensive seed mixes contain fillers like millet, and finely cracked corn. Birds will continually toss these seeds out in search of the good stuff. So why not just feed the good stuff to start with? Black Oil Sunflower is a great basic seed preferred by many species. An even better choice is the Sunflower Hearts or Meats. There’s absolutely no waste, no shells, no mess. It does cost more, but again… there’s no waste, so it’s almost a wash. Nothing wasted on the ground for scouring rats, opossums, or raccoons, because all of the seed is consumed by your avian amigos!
Suet is another good choice because there’s no waste, no mess. Specialty mixes (doughs) are even meant for summer feeding. Some of the more common, or fat-based suet formulas may sour and turn rancid in summer’s extreme temperatures. But the heat will not affect suet doughs…. and both resident and migratory birds devour this stuff!
Below is a real note from one of our repeat customers, just yesterday. She phoned with some questions and had planned to purchase two seed trays. After speaking with her, the plans changed: (proof positive the above content holds some weight)
“thanks for chatting with me yesterday about seed catchers for my bird feeders. I am going to hold off on buying and change the birdseed instead to shelled sunflower nuts. I did go look outside and indeed there is a lot of millet on the ground, along with sunflower shells. I’m hoping this will work, if not I will order the seed catchers!
By the way, the seed catcher shown above is adjustable. It fits just about any feeder and comes in two diameters; 16 and 30-inch. The larger “SeedHoop” may even be pole mounted by creating a slit in the center of the tray. They’re versatile, durable, and best of all… they work!
When spilled birdseed sits on the ground for a few days, it gets nasty. Combine that with some rain and warmer temperatures, (like we’ve been having in the south) and you get insta-mold. That’s my word for quickly-molding, bacteria producing, old seed. Ground feeding birds like some sparrows, juncos and even cardinals will forage through this nasty stuff looking for a decent bite to eat. Thus, bacteria and germs are spread amongst your backyard birds. The result is usually a respiratory infection and many time turns into conjunctivitis. In birds, this disease is usually fatal.
Aside from keeping feeders themselves clean, it’s important to be aware of the entire feeding area, including the ground below your bird feeders. Seed Catchers greatly reduce spilled seed, while keeping the appearance of your yard nicer. Eliminating the ground mess below feeders really does promote healthier birds.
The large seed catcher shown here features an adjustable and innovative design. Known as the Seed Hoop, it works virtually with any bird feeder, whether hanging or pole-mounted. Available in a 16-inch diameter, it accommodates most tube-style feeders, even those hung on a shepherd’s hook. The larger 30-inch diameter may actually be pole-mounted below the feeder by cutting a slit in the center of the seed tray. If this is the desired use, it’s best to place some duct tape around the slit, and here’s why: We’ve had the 30-inch seed catcher installed on the pole itself with a finch feeder above. Over several months, this center hole has gotten larger from removing and replacing the tray for cleaning. Besides… duct tape fixes everything, right?
Hopper and tube style bird feeders will not accommodate many birds. Cardinals, Jays, Juncos and larger Woodpeckers have a tough time on the small ledges or tiny perches, so platform feeders are better suited for these birds.
Most of the new seed catchers actually serve as platform feeders, offering a an additional area for other birds to feed. Not only will seed catchers and trays keep ground mess to a very minimum, they virtually eliminate wasted seed as well. This makes your seed go further… while spending less money on it!
This recycled plastic seed catcher is made for a 4×4 post. With removable screens for easy cleaning, the large 23 x 21-inch feeding area will entice new bird species to your feeder. The same tray is available in durable cedar, and also made for a standard 1-inch feeder pole. Hanging seed catchers and tray are also available, and most are adjustable to work with different bird feeders.
With so many variations in seed catchers, there’s plenty to choose from that will work with your existing feeder. Entice more birds to feeders by adding a platform-type seed catcher!