FAQs about Bird Feeding

These are some of the most frequently asked questions about bird feeding.  

At Droll Yankees, there’s a special place in our hearts for people who feed the birds. If you have any additional questions, please email our Customer Service Department at drollbird@drollyankees.com, or give us a call at 1-800-352-9164 and any one of our Customer Service Reps will be happy to assist you. Our hours are Mon-Fri, 8:30am-5:00pm EST.

We thank you for feeding the birds with our products, and from all of us here at Droll Yankees, happy birding!

Is there any way to keep the Grackles away from my bird feeder?

There are two ways to deter Grackles: change the feed, or use a feeder that denies them access. Many seed mixes contain cracked corn fillers that attract Grackles. Most Grackles are not fond of Nyjer (sometimes referred to as thistle) seed. Another suggestion is to try substituting your usual mixed seed or sunflower seed with safflower seed. Most songbirds enjoy safflower seed but the Grackles will typically avoid it. After using safflower seed for a few weeks you can try using your regular seed again. In most cases, the Grackles will not return to the feeder after the safflower seed has been offered.

We also offer special feeders that are designed to keep large birds and squirrels off. First, Shelter Feeders come in 2 models: B7DC, and SDC. The Yankee Whipper and Dipper make it uncomfortable for large birds to feed.

Why is it important to clean my bird feeders?

Cleaning your bird feeder is crucial for promoting the health and safety of backyard birds. Feeders that are not regularly cleaned can become moldy, or worse, bacteria can start to grow and disease can spread. Just like any animal in nature, birds can spread diseases among each other. Keeps birds safe and healthy by regularly washing your feeder with warm, soapy water, or a 50/50 water/vinegar solution. Make sure the feeder is dry before refilling, as seeds can easily absorb leftover moisture. For more information, please see our instruction manual on Cleaning & Maintaining Your Bird Feeder.

“Is there any bird seed that squirrels WON’T be attracted to?”

Yes! Squirrels are not the least bit interested in eating Nyjer (thistle) seed. This is a seed you must use with Nyjer (thistle) feeders, which have special ports with small holes, so that birds must pull the seeds out. When using your Nyjer seed feeders, be sure to fill them with straight Nyjer seed – not a mixed Nyjer seed. Mixes contain other seeds which are more attractive to squirrels, and the squirrels will chew through the tube to access it.

Will birds’ feet stick to metal perches in winter?

Great news! Metal perches are completely safe for birds!

If we humans were to put our exposed feet on a metal surface in the freezing outdoors, we would probably get stuck to the metal—a very dangerous and painful situation indeed. It’s totally understandable to think that the birds’ exposed feet would cause similar results, but there’s actually some interesting science behind why birds are completely safe.

Birds’ feet are not like ours. They don’t have sweat glands, and no sweat glands means no moisture to freeze to the metal on your birdfeeder. We’re all familiar with the classic scenario of getting your tongue frozen to a flag pole, and it seems like a logical jump to assume that birds’ feet would have a similar sort of reaction to cold metal. According to the Audubon Society, birds feet will not freeze to a perch on their own. The only way this could happen is if a bird was feeding during a freezing rain storm and the rain instantaneously froze around the bird’s perched feet and the metal perch itself. That would be a very rare and specific occurrence with a simple remedy—just pour some cool or lukewarm water on the bird’s feet to thaw the ice and it will fly away.

The lower extremities of our favorite backyard guests are primarily made up of bones, scales, and sinews, according to BirdNote. They have an impressive web of arteries that continually warm the cold blood from their feet before it reaches the heart, thereby keeping their feet warm enough and not shocking the rest of the body as blood from the feet recirculates. This system is called the rete mirabile (Latin for “miraculous net”). It’s a fascinating avian adaptation that makes backyard birds truly marvelous.

So when putting your metal bird feeders out in the cold weather, you can rest assured of the well-being of your feathered friends’ feet. Just keep those feeders full and the birds will handle the rest!

Why aren’t birds visiting my new bird feeder?

Birds are creatures of habit, and it can take them days or even weeks to use a new bird feeder. There is something new in the yard that they are not used to, and they need to warm up to it first.

We would suggest temporarily removing other bird feeders in the area, so that the birds must use the new one. Oddly enough, filling the feeder half-full seems to help attract the birds to the new feeder. Temporarily placing the bird feeder near  a shrub or tree where birds will feel safe can also encourage them to explore the new feeder (once they’ve discovered it, place it far enough away from a tree so that the squirrels won’t get to it). Adding something like a colorful ribbon can also help, as the movement in the wind can make the birds feel like another bird has found the feeder to be safe.

We hope that the birds begin to use you new bird feeder soon, and please keep us updated!

Can I feed my leftover bread scraps to the birds?

In short, bread scraps are bad for birds. It’s important for the health of the birds to provide foods that are as close as possible to their natural diet. There are many different feed options on the market, and while most people stick to the healthy birdseed varieties, unfortunately, some people put their leftover food scraps out for bird consumption. While this is done out of good intentions, bread is actually a poor choice of food for birds. Bread is made out of grain seeds that birds would eat in nature, but the seeds are processed into flour and the baked bread isn’t healthy for the birds. It provides no nutritional value and is the equivalent of ‘junk food’ for birds. Moldy bread can also cause infections and disease, as well as pollute waterways when left uneaten by ducks and geese. Leaving out table scraps may also attract unwanted pests, such as mice or rats and raccoons, to a yard. These pests can contaminate and destroy bird feeders. The best way to avoid these problems is to avoid offering table scraps altogether.

Can handling bird feeders make me sick?

Bird feeding is a safe and rewarding hobby for people of all ages, especially when a few extra steps are taken to maintain cleanliness. It’s always a safe choice to wash hands with soap and hot water after handling a feeder. Cleaning bird feeders routinely and scrubbing them thoroughly with a wire cleaning brush to remove residues and build up will prevent the spread of germs that could make birds ill. Clean feeders are healthy for people and birds!