can you stain bird feeders

NestWatchers often ask if it is safe to use paint or stain to preserve a nest box, so we recently published a new FAQ article about this at The controversy lies in the fact that there are no conclusive studies that determine whether residual fumes from paint, stains, or pressure treatment can harm the birds. Some builders argue that it takes longer to paint a box than it does to build a new one, and that paint must be reapplied every few years to be effective. Others point out that trees can be spared if nest boxes are made to last longer. And there are many who claim that the risk from birds overheating in an unpainted box is greater than the risk of toxic fumes.

Without peer-reviewed studies on this topic to guide us, we recommend using untreated, unpainted wood to construct boxes because it most closely resembles what the birds would have used before the advent of nest boxes. A well-constructed house should last 10–15 years on its own (cedar, spruce, white pine, and yellow pine are good rot-resistant choices for lumber). Pressure-treated wood has been saturated with a combination of pesticide and fungicide, and therefore, should be avoided as nest box material. Alternatively, you can extend the life of your nest box by gluing all the seams of the non-opening sides before nailing them. Recess the floor about ¼? to reduce deterioration from moisture. Use only durable materials, especially for the roof, which deteriorates faster than the other panels. You can further protect the box by placing the roof panel such that the growth rings bend down in a “frown” rather than up in a “smile.” When the roof begins to warp in the direction of its growth rings (as all solid lumber will do), then it will warp downward and still protect the box from rain. Angled roofs will last longer than flat roofs, but flat-roofed boxes can be mounted at a slight downward angle to shed rain.

We do recognize that in hot climates, where daytime temperatures regularly exceed 95°F, some nest box monitors choose to paint the exterior of boxes so that they stay cooler. Proper ventilation and a roof that extends two inches over the sides will help shade the box and protect it from the elements, reducing the need for paint. However, some additional cooling may be gained by painting the roof and exterior walls a light color (white is preferred for Purple Martin houses, but opt for tan, gray, or dull green for other cavity-nesting species as these are less conspicuous to predators). If paint is deemed necessary by the monitor, then it should only be applied to the exterior, never the inside. Even zero- and low-emissions latex paint formulas or oil-based stains can release fumes for months, so if you paint, plan to do so in the fall, which will give fumes time to dissipate throughout the winter as the paint cures.

It is acknowledged that certain nest box monitors opt to paint the exterior of their boxes in order to keep them cooler in hotter climates where daytime temperatures frequently surpass 95°F. In order to shade the box and shield it from the elements, a roof that protrudes two inches over the sides and adequate ventilation will help minimize the need for paint. Painting the outside walls and roof a light color (white is best for Purple Martin houses; other cavity-nesting species should use tan, gray, or dull green as these are less noticeable to predators) will, however, provide some extra cooling. Paint should never be applied inside; only the outside should be painted if the monitor determines that it is necessary. When painting, aim to paint in the fall, when the paint will have had time to cure and release fumes that will dissipate throughout the winter. Even low- and zero-emission latex paint formulas or oil-based stains can release fumes for months.

NestWatchers frequently inquire about whether painting or staining a nest box is safe, so we recently updated our FAQ page with this information. org. The debate stems from the lack of studies that definitively address whether paint, stain, or pressure treatment residues can be harmful to birds. Some builders contend that painting a box takes longer than building a new one and that paint needs to be reapplied periodically to stay effective. Others draw attention to the fact that if nest boxes are made to last longer, trees may be spared. Furthermore, a lot of people contend that the danger of birds overheating in an unpainted box outweighs the danger of harmful vapors.

Since it most closely resembles what the birds would have used before the invention of nest boxes, we advise using untreated, unpainted wood to construct boxes in the absence of peer-reviewed studies on the subject to help us. A well-built home should stand the test of time for ten to fifteen years on its own (rot-resistant lumber options include yellow pine, white pine, spruce, and cedar). Pressure-treated wood should not be used to make nest boxes because it has been soaked in a mixture of fungicide and pesticide. As an alternative, you can make your nest box last longer by adhering glue to all of the non-opening side seams before nailing them. Recess the floor about ¼? to reduce deterioration from moisture. Make sure to use sturdy materials, particularly for the roof, as it ages more quickly than the other panels. By positioning the roof panel so that the growth rings bend downward in a “frown” rather than upward in a “smile,” you can further safeguard the box. All solid lumber will warp in the direction of its growth rings, so when the roof starts to do so, it will do so downward, keeping the box dry from rain. Although flat-roofed boxes can be positioned at a slight downward angle to shed rain, angled roofs are more durable than flat roofs.

All you need is a brush and some warm water to clean seed tube and finch feeders. Use a solution of nine parts water to one part bleach to remove any mold or debris, then thoroughly rinse, dry, and replenish with fresh seed. Maintaining your bird feeders will keep them looking better for longer and reduce the chance that your birds will become ill.

Details about Copper It has the advantage of being highly corrosion resistant. If no action is taken to preserve the color, copper quickly turns a pale green color. You must do the following to bring back the gorgeous shine on your copper feeder: Use a copper cleaner or varnish to polish the copper. Seal the copper with a clear lacquer.

Keeping feeders clean is an important part of feeder maintenance. The only maintenance required for bird feeders is routine cleaning with warm water and drying completely before adding new seed. If you have seen sick birds at your feeder or if mold or debris has accumulated, clean the feeder with a solution of nine parts water to one part bleach. Rinse well, dry completely and refill with fresh seed. Here are some recommendations for maintaining your copper, wooden, or tube feeders.

Redwood or Cedar Feeders: Due to the superior weathering qualities that these wood species naturally possess as they mature, they are frequently utilized outdoors. This wood doesn’t require any maintenance for many years under normal circumstances. However, it will fade in color as it weathers. Every few years, you can apply a layer of linseed oil or wood sealer to the wood to keep it looking nice. It’s crucial to use wood sealer or water-soluble stain exclusively on the feeder’s exterior. Never apply directly to the bird feeder’s eating surface.


What is the best finish for a wooden bird feeder?

Some popular options include polyurethane, marine varnish, and exterior wood sealer. We prefer an easy spray on, fast drying polyurethane. But consider the specific environment in which your bird feeder will be placed when selecting a clear coat or weatherproofing treatment.

Is it safe to paint a bird feeder?

Pretty much any paint you like—so long as it is fully dried and/or cured before to put food into it and offer it to the birds. Paint is essentially inert once it dries/cures. The only way it can harm you or a bird after it dries or cures is if you eat it. Birds do not eat paint, as a rule.

Do birds care what color the feeder is?

Our results suggest that silver and green feeders were visited by higher numbers of individuals of several common garden bird species, while red and yellow feeders received fewer visits. In contrast, people preferred red, yellow, blue and green feeders.