Some people prefer not to feed birds in the spring and summer when there is abundant food. However, leaving your feeders up year-round is not a problem as long as you keep a few things in mind:
- If bears live near you, you should not keep feeders up during the warmer months. (For example, the New York State Department of Conservation recommends taking feeders down on April 1 in New York to avoid nuisance bears at your feeders).
- Suet left out in hot weather can soften and foul birds’ plumage; or it can become rancid. It’s a good idea to take down suet feeders in warm weather. Raw or homemade suet should not be offered in the summer. Some suet manufacturers state that their blocks will withstand temps over 100 degrees without melting; however, these might nevertheless go rancid in short order if extreme high temperatures persist.
- Bird seed spoils more easily in the heat, especially if it gets wet. If the level of seed in your feeder is not changing, it may be a sign that it has spoiled and birds are avoiding it. You can fix this by changing out your food regularly, or by not filling the feeders as full so that birds empty the feeder more quickly.
- In extreme heat, you may find that birds will not visit your feeder. Try to find a shady spot for it, and consider putting out a water source (birdbath, slowly dripping spigot) as well.
With respect to the health of birds in your yard, it’s good to remember that the most likely outcome of offering spoiled food is that birds will go elsewhere. In general, birds are hardy, resourceful animals that would no more swallow rancid suet than you or I would make a sandwich with green turkey.
Here at the Cornell Lab, we keep our feeders filled year-round in the Treman Bird Feeding Garden for the benefit of the birds and the pleasure of our visitors. Whether or not you do is up to you.
For more information on bird feeding during the warmer months, check out our blog post, Here’s What to Feed Your Summer Bird Feeder Visitors.
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