Want to Feed the Birds, but want to avoid pests like Rats from invading your yard?
Facts for a Rat-Free Yard!
A summary of the facts you need to know about keeping your yard rat-free.
Birdfeeders are rarely to blame for attracting rats into an area. Rats are more likely to be attracted by the odors and smells from pet waste, outdoor pet food bowls, inadequate garbage containers, compost bins, barbeque grills, vegetable garden waste or un-harvested fruits and nuts from trees.
To eliminate rats, you must deny them access to shelter. It is very important to remove potential hiding and nesting sites from around your home, such as firewood stacks, brush and debris piles, dense shrubbery, ground covers and ivy. Repair and/or seal all openings in buildings with durable materials, such as concrete, metal flashing, steel wool or heavy welded wire.
In dry regions of the country where open water is scarce, rats are attracted to any available source of water. Norway rats, in particular, require a significant amount of water everyday. To avoid problems with rats, remove or repair any sources of free water around your home and yard. These include leaking faucets and irrigation lines, water bowls for pets and other sources of standing water.
Good sanitation practices will effectively control the ability of rats to survive in and around your yard. Eliminating access to garbage, pet waste, spilled bird seed, open compost bins and un-harvested fruits and vegetables is a basic factor in rodent control.
Rats are especially attracted by the odor from barbeque grills and they will utilize the residue meat scraps and fats found on grills as a source of food. If possible, grills should be stored in a secure out-building and should be clean of all grease and food debris when not in use.
By using the proper feeders, food and feeding techniques you can feed and enjoy the birds in your yard without attracting rats.
The following improper bird feeding practices can contribute to rat problems if not corrected:
Feeding improper or cheap seed blends Most discount store blends contain large amounts of cereal grain fillers that the birds leave behind and which can be attractive to rats.
Overfeeding Leaving too much seed on the ground invites rodents over for a snack.
Easy access to feeders The use of unprotected feeders may allow rats to climb poles, or in the case of roof rats, drop from trees onto the feeder.
Improper seed storage Storing birdseed in improper containers or in areas accessible to rodents can lead to rodent problems.
The following bird feeding practices will help you avoid or to solve any challenges with rats in your yard:
No ground feeding Food scattered directly on the ground can be attractive to rodents.
Select the proper food Consider feeding only a single type of seed in a feeder to reduce the amount of scattered seed that reaches the ground.
Sunflower chips seem to work very well for this purpose when tidy feeding is the priority.
Good quality suet or shelled peanuts hung from a properly placed and baffled pole will also work well. If the feeders are not hung on a baffled pole, take them indoors each evening. Consider using a quality tray under the feeders to keep any debris from falling to the ground.
Feed black oil sunflower seeds or blends that are high in black oil sunflower seeds or chips if your feeders are hung on a baffled pole and place a good quality tray below them.
For ground feeding birds use a blend with millet in a tray or platform feeder and feed only a small amount each day.
Don’t overfeed - Put out only as much seed as the birds will eat each day, especially millet. Make sure the birds clean their plate everyday.
Use the proper feeders and trays It is important to select the feeders that are appropriate for the types of birds you want to attract. Proper trays and screens placed below the feeder will eliminate ground spillage and give the ground feeding birds a vermin-proof place to eat. Feeder and tray combinations to consider would include:
Finch or seed tube feeders with trays
Wooden seed tray & wooden hopper feeder
Peanut feeders with tray
Use baffles to eliminate easy access Hang a baffle above any feeder to protect against roof rats and squirrels. Baffles placed five feet high on poles and posts will keep rats from climbing up and sitting in the feeder.
Store seed properly - Keep seed in a metal, rodent-proof container. Store the seed in an area that rodents cannot reach.
Keep feeding areas tidy - Sweep, rake or clean up spilled seed and seed husks on a regular basis, at least once a week. If possible, place your feeders over a hard surface so your clean-up is faster and easier.
In dry climate area’s – eliminate sources of water In areas where water is scarce, rats are particularly attracted to a reliable source from which to drink everyday. Temporarily remove any source of water which may supply their daily requirement. You may set up a baffled birdbath option.