Tricks for attracting birds to a new bird feeder

Fall can be a great time to establish new bird feeders on your property.

The migration provides ample opportunity for quickly acclimating a host of bird species to your offerings, whether you are trying to add a new feeder to the mix or simply attempting to attract birds to your yard for the first time.

I recently dealt with the latter.

My wife and I just moved-in to a new house with a spacious backyard. While I was glad to have more room, part of me was bummed about leaving the birding environment I had worked so hard to create at the old house.

However, this experience taught me several valuable lessons about attracting birds to a fresh setup. And, before long, our new yard was full of birds grabbing a bite and doing their thing.

Here are a few tips to help you attract birds to your new feeder:

Look around

Odds are, the types of birds you are going to attract to your feeder are the kind that are already around. So get an idea of the species your area already holds.

Many companies manufacture bird seed that caters to birds with particular feeding styles and habits. Being able to get a feel for what you’re working with will help you make better choices about the type of food you are putting out.

Another thing to take note of is where the birds naturally gravitate in your yard. Once you’ve identified this, it’s time to put your biologist cap on. What kinds of birds are there? How often do they visit? How long do they stay? What are they doing?

Being able to answer these questions will assist you when considering feeder selection and placement (we’ll get to that shortly).

Natural hotspots or places in your yard that have similar characteristics can be ideal locations for bird feeders.

So before you rush into anything, take some time to relax and observe the bird activity that is happening in and around your yard naturally. This will set you up for success moving forward.

Not seeing much? Keep looking at different times of day and in different weather conditions. If your fortunes don’t improve, you could be in for the long haul on this project. But don’t give up. There is a real chance there is demand for feeders in your area, but it may take the birds a little longer to find out that you have what they’re looking for.

Proper placement

I’ve discussed this point in the past, but it’s worth repeating.

The placement of your bird feeder is a big deal. If birds don’t feel safe or have to go out of their way to visit, they likely won’t.

Make sure your feeder is easily visible, safely away from windows or other hazards, and, ideally, near some form of natural shelter such as brush or trees.

Spread the love

Birds are sight-feeders. So the more visual confirmation they have of the presence of food, the more quickly they will come investigate.

Don’t be afraid to sprinkle a little food on top of your feeder and on the ground below to help get birds in the vicinity.

Don’t overdo it, though. Too much seed on the ground can attract rodents which, in turn, attracts cats and birds of prey that could possibly use your feeder as a buffet.

Consider other needs

Food is vital to the survival of birds but, like all living things, they have other needs.

If your feathered friends don’t seem in the mood to chow down, try placing a bird bath in your yard. Drinking and bathing are both parts of a bird’s routine and are not necessarily tied to feeding.

Another option is to provide shelter through the use of bird houses or other landscaping. If your yard is especially open, the lack of birds may be due to the small number of hiding places. Drop in a bird house or a new shrub or two and see if that does the trick.

Remember, if things aren’t going as planned with your new feeder, you can always try meeting some of the birds’ other needs before upselling them on the food.

Try different types of feeders

Some birds simply aren’t fans of the classic tube feeder.

This could be because of the size of the perches, they type of food it’s holds, the amount of traffic at the feeder, or just because of their preferred feeding style.

Birds such as doves and dark-eyed juncos often want to scavenge on the ground for food. In this case, try utilizing a platform feeder that gives these birds the surface area and presentation they are accustomed to when feeding.

Other species such as woodpeckers, like to hang on feeders while scouring for grub. Suet feeders can be a great application here.

Be patient

This is probably the hardest part.

No matter how many of these tips you choose to follow, the process of attracting birds to your new feeder can take time.

At our new house, it took nearly two weeks to begin seeing regular traffic at our feeder despite the fact there were birds in or around our yard nearly every day.

Stay patient and persistent and remain diligent about keeping the food fresh and the feeder clean.

Your hard work will most likely be rewarded in due time.

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