Winter bird feeders are great ways to add a bit of colour to your yard and see more of nature. Homeowners should put their winter bird feeders away from foot traffic, making trees ideal places for those who don’t want to set up a pole in their lawn.
Placing a winter bird feeder in a tree simulates the feeding patterns of the birds, especially suet feeders on tree trunks or thick branches for woodpeckers (suet is an animal fat safe for birds). The tree can also protect it from direct sunlight and wind. But how you set it up can affect the health of your tree! Here’s how to install a bird feeder in a way that doesn’t harm your tree.
What Not To Do When Installing A Bird Feeder
Improperly installing a bird feeder can cause a lot of damage, even killing the tree if it’s young enough. Nails or screws that penetrate the tree trunk can damage the tree, leaving wounds that make the tree more susceptible to insects, disease, and wood-decaying fungi that will rot the tree. As such, do not fasten a winter feeder to a tree!
As well, do not hang a feeder or a birdhouse on a branch using a tightly wound string or wire. As the tree grows, it will grow around the cordage, potentially causing a problem called girdling. Girdling is the choking of the cambium, the tree’s pathway for fluids and nutrients. When the string becomes too tight, it can form a wound that could either make the limb weaken and break, or cause branch dieback from a lack of water and nutrients.
What To Do When Installing A Winter Bird Feeder
Pick a limb between 6 and 20 feet off the ground to hang the birdhouse. Nearby branches can provide jumping-off points for squirrels and hiding places for outdoor cats. A distance of 10 feet is a good point, but try shifting the feeder around for the ideal spot. Funny enough, bird feeders can be safer when they are closer to windows! This is because if a bird takes off from the feeder and hits the window, it won’t be going at top speed, giving it a better chance of surviving a collision. If you have a small tree close to your home that’s three feet from a window, this would be a nice spot for your bird feeder. Otherwise, ten feet or more away from a window is best.
Next, choose the right type of cord for hanging your feeder. It must be a material that expands with the growth of the tree or one that you can loop loosely enough to still provide security without girdling the branch. If your model has a built-in hook or loop that can secure the feeder well enough in weather, a cord may not be necessary.
Trees are the ideal support for bird feeders. By placing them on a limb that reaches 10 – 12 feet out, you are giving the birds a place to rest and a refuge in which to retreat should a predator show up. Some people even use the cracks and crevices in the bark to smear peanut butter or suet mixed with seeds for the birds!