How to Attract Birds to Feeders

How to Attract Birds to Feeders
Wild birds are colorful, fun to watch, and an important part of any local ecosystem. Bird feeders are a great way to observe wild birds up close while providing them with supplemental calories. Feeding birds is also a good way to help kids make a connection to nature and learn about other species.


Difficulty: Easy

Things You’ll Need:
  • Bird feeder Bird food
  • Bird feeder
  • Bird food
Step 1
Consider what kind of birds you want to attract. This will determine which kind of feeder and the type of food you need. For example, orioles love fruit, finches are partial to Nyjer seed, and bluebirds crave mealworms. Each of these foods requires a different type of feeder. You may not have a certain species in mind, in which case an all-purpose feeder and seed mix will be fine. Most bagged seed will have a chart showing which kinds of birds the seed will attract.
Step 2
Decide where to put your feeder. Most people want a bird feeder so they can watch the birds, so consider viewing opportunities when deciding on a spot. Another consideration is safety for the birds; ideally, there should be a tree nearby to offer shelter.Many types of feeders are available: pole-mounted, hanging and suction cup window-mounted are popular choices. You can also get one that mounts on a deck railing.
Step 3
Make sure the feeder has the right features. Some birds are clingers, and want netting or edges to grip onto. Others prefer perches to rest on while they eat. Capacity is an important concern---larger feeders don't have to be refilled as often. The feeder should have some kind of cover to protect the food and feeding birds from rain. You may need some type of squirrel guard as well.
Step 4
Fill the feeder and hang it. It may take birds two or three weeks to discover and feel comfortable using your new feeder. Help them find it by laying a trail of seeds from a nearby tree to the feeder.
Step 5
Provide water for drinking and bathing. In addition to food, birds need water. A simple shallow dish will work, or you can choose from many styles of decorative birdbaths.
Step 6
Once the action starts, keep the feeder filled. In busy seasons, birds may empty the feeder rapidly. Especially in winter, they may be dependent on you---so keep an eye on the feeder and restock it as needed.

Article Written By Peggy Hansen

Peggy Hansen holds a Bachelor of Science in biology from UC San Diego, Doctor of Medicine from UCLA, and completed postgraduate training at Stanford, Duke and Harvard. An award-winning writer and photographer, her work has been featured in Catnip, Herbalgram, Porter Gulch Review, and many online pieces. She's also a commentator for KQED-FM

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