Ask the Master – Birds and Bears

I like to bird watch but I’ve had to bring in my bird feeders because of the bears. Is there something else I can do to attract birds without attracting bears or other wildlife I don’t want in my yard?

Stopping a bear from getting bird and pet food the first time is the best way to keep it from coming back, but spring bears are already very hungry and very persistent.  Keep the feeder out of their reach by stringing a 15-20 foot wire high up between two trees and hanging the feeder in the middle. You can also toss a rope over a very high branch that won’t support a bear’s weight and pull the feeder up from there.  An Amish clothes line works very well for hanging a feeder well out of reach. A cemented, 10-12 foot tall unbendable pole may also work. Be sure the feeder does not leak or lose seeds/hulls onto the ground by hanging a clean mesh or solid tray under the feeder. There are even lawn vacuums that you can use to remove feeding debris. To remove the odor of seeds, spray ammonia under feeders, around garbage, and anywhere that a bear has previously been seen.  The bear may also have accidentally found the bird feeder while in search of your BBQ Grill, compost or trash which should be securely stored away from bears along with the spare birdseed. An electric fence, Scarecrow Water Sprayers and bright motion sensor lights may also discourage bears as they temporarily disturb the bear’s vision.  Cayenne Pepper may be added to the bird seed. Use a high quality bird seed without Millet as the birds usually toss it out of the feeder in search of the better seed. Bears climbing trees or wood houses can be stopped with carefully placed metal sheeting.

Best answer! Attract birds in summer with native plants, nesting areas and dripping water instead of bird seed which they do not need in late spring, summer and early fall. Do not hang feeders between April 1 and Nov 30 when bears roam the most, and at night when they are actively seeking food.

Do you have a Treasure Lake gardening or wildlife question? Email us at editor@treasurelakenews.com with ‘Ask the Master’ in the subject line. All answers are provided by Master Gardeners through the Penn State Extension Master Gardener program.

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