This past weekend saw a resurgence of activity at my feeder after an eye-opening revelation reminded me of how important it is to provide a healthy experience for your feathered friends. When I went to put out squirrel food for our blue jays, I noticed (for the first time in a year and a half) just how revolting our original feeder had become. Granted, we’d had torrential rains earlier in the week that had turned the seed in the tray into paste, but the inside was even worse and really for no other reason that I had never cleaned it out. I don’t know if it makes sense to say that it smelled fermented, but it was gross anyway, and when I dumped out what wasn’t glued to the feeder, it looked like something like weird cat puke. No wonder my babies weren’t feeding there. So I took it inside and rinsed it out with hot water and let it dry before I put it back out Friday night. It could be complete coincidence but yesterday my babies were back and going crazy. I counted two blue jays, three sparrows, my cardinal couple, two titmice and a chickadee. Despite the weather, our chipmunk launched a raid on the old feeder too, though he was going back and forth between both feeders for most of the day. He jumped up on a solar globe once and tried desperately to wipe the water off his face and out of his ears, which was adorable, but he’s on a mission to stock up before he goes underground for the winter. The weather can’t stop him. I learned a valuable lesson this weekend about feeder maintenance and will make sure going forward that I routinely give the feeders a good rinse so that seed doesn’t rot and potentially make them sick.