Welcome to my Bird Blog!

Welcome to all my fellow bird lovers and gardeners! I'm so glad you stopped by.

Migratory bird populations have taken a nose dive in the past 40 years. But you can help bring their numbers back by creating beneficial, beautiful and fun habitats in your own backyard. Discover favorite plants and environments that shelter and feed colorful songbirds, as well as how to make them feel welcome by offering their preferred natural foods.

Grandma Pearl
(Connie Smith)

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

How to Keep Mice Out of Bird Houses

Pineapple Mint
Grandma Pearl
If you are having trouble with mice invading your bird houses, especially over the winter time, I have some tips to help you discourage them from setting up housekeeping in the first place!

1.  Check your bird houses!  If they have old bird nests, mice nests, dirt or other debris inside, be sure to clean them out.  Use gloves to protect your hands, then take a wire brush or putty knife and scrape away anything that might be stuck on.
     Mice tend to use the same nesting material, and add to it repeatedly.  Removing old nesting material should help dissuade them from automatically moving in to a ready-made home.
2.  If you have mint growing in your gardens, or if you know of someone who would like to share some with you, by all means take advantage of this wonderfully aromatic plant.  MICE HATE THE SMELL OF MINT!

Spearmint loves moist soil conditions
Grandma Pearl

3.  After you have cleaned your bird house and are ready to hang it back up, rub the inside with the mint leaves.  The oils will penetrate the wood and help repel rodents.  Also, add a bunch of mint leaves to the inside of the nest box. 
4.  When spring rolls around again, be sure to plant a pot of mint at the base of your bird house pole.  Or if you have the space and a moist area near the nest box, plant the mint in the ground right there.  Be aware that mint is a prolific grower and will take over a garden in short order.  That's why I like to confine my mint to a large pot.  
     You can use spearmint, peppermint, chocolate mint, pineapple mint or any other strong-smelling mint variety.
Mint flowers attract all kinds of beneficial pollinators
Grandma Pearl

An added bonus with the mint is that it attracts beneficial bugs as well as butterflies and hummingbirds.  Yup, hummers love to poke their beaks into each of the tiny tubes of the mint flower head!  
Here in the northeast, my mint begins to flower at the end of August, and will continue right up until the frost hits.  After the first frost, I harvest my mint by pulling it out, roots and all.  Rest assured, you will always leave some roots behind and the mint will return in the spring.
Once I have gathered all the mint stems, I place them in a large paper bag in a cool room.  I like to use those big bags they give you in the restaurants....you know, the ones that have handles.  Those handles come in handy for hanging your paper bag on a hook.
I then cover my mint with newspapers to keep them dry and dust free.
If I need mint in a recipe, I have the real stuff!  Be careful, a little goes a long way.

If you happen to have an attic or basement that is particularly attractive to mice, place mint all around the areas where they are most likely entering.  Rather than confront the pungent aroma, mice will decide to set up housekeeping somewhere else!

Remember not to use toxic chemicals!  They are deadly to humans, pets and wildlife; particularly the owls and other animals that prey on mice and rats.  It is a painfully slow death they endure after swallowing poisoned rodents.  Instead, use the mint or humane traps.  If you don't like transporting rats and mice in a trap, use the old-fashioned snap traps, or the covered traps that let you know when they are full.  Those are totally disposable, and you never have to see or touch the critter.
Grandma Pearl

Are Your Bird Houses Ready for Fall and Winter?
Mouse and Rat Poison--What They're Not Telling Us
How and Why to Attract Owls to Your Backyard

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