You found the perfect bird feeder. You picked a great spot in your yard. You filled it with seed. And now you wait patiently (or impatiently) for your first visitor! But what if you’re not getting many – or any – birds at your new feeder?
First things first – why aren’t the birds coming to my feeder? There are many factors that could be causing a bird to choose a different source of food. One thing to keep in mind is that birds are creatures of habit. They may be hesitant to try out a new feeder, especially if you have been offering seed in other feeders – a tried and true food source. It may also take some time for the birds to get used to a new landing pattern or learn the mechanics of getting out the seed.
Here are some tips and tricks to try to attract birds to a new bird feeder!
Choose the right location
If you already own and are having success with other bird feeders, try placing the new feeder near the existing feeders. Place your feeder roughly 10 feet from a natural shelter such as trees or shrubs to offer a resting place for birds between feedings and quick refuge from any predators. Be careful not to put feeders much closer than 10 feet from trees or shrubs since it can increase the likelihood of squirrels. Remember, feeders should be hung or mounted closer than 3 feet from a window or farther than 15 feet from a window to help prevent fatal window collisions.
Try a new seed type
Offer a universally popular type of seed in your feeder, even if the feeder will eventually be filled with a different type of seed. Try using black oil sunflower seed or a blend with a high concentration of black oil sunflower seeds as this feed attracts the widest variety of birds and is the healthiest option for them. Be aware that certain seed types, like thistle/Nyger, can spoil quickly. It’s important to regularly inspect and change out seed to keep it fresh. Once the birds are accustomed to using the new feeder you can gradually mix in a different type of seed to attract new birds. Here is a list of seed types that attract specific types of birds.
Pictured: American Goldfinches on Wide Deluxe Funnel Flip-Top Tube Feeder (Model# WMFFB-19)
Take down other feeders
Birds may prefer to feed from dependable food sources like existing feeders. If you have other bird feeders in your yard, try temporarily taking them down until the birds find and use the new feeder. Once they are regularly using the new feeder, existing feeders can go back up.
Keep it clean
Even if your feeder hasn’t had many visitors yet, changes in weather or heat can cause dirt or bacteria to form on a new feeder after a few weeks. Feeders should be cleaned at least once a month. Clean bird feeders and feeding areas will attract more birds and keep all backyard birds healthier for you to enjoy!
Timing is key
There is no “wrong” time to put up a new feeder, but there are a few factors that may cause the birds a delay in using a new feeder at certain times throughout the year.
- Nesting: When nesting and caring for their hatchlings, many birds focus on eating other food sources, like insects, for additional nutrition and protein. Feeders can naturally experience a lull in visitors at these times.
- Dietary requirements: Almost all birds have different dietary needs depending on the time of year due to their breeding, nesting and migration patterns, so they may move to or away from feeders seasonally.
- Food availability: There are typically fewer birds frequenting feeders during the summer and early fall months. This is because there are usually lots of alternative natural food sources available. Birds eat insects, spiders, seeds, nuts, berries, fruit, worms, and more. When these are easy to find and abundant, most birds prefer them.
It may take several weeks before the birds find and begin feeding regularly from a new feeder. Before making any changes, try waiting at least two weeks to give the birds enough time to discover your feeder. As you try new locations, seed types or other changes, be sure to give the birds enough time in between to acclimate to the new modifications.
It can require some patience as the birds adjust to using a new feeder, but with persistence and perseverance it will be worth the wait when you start to receive regular visitors at your feeder!
Recommended seed feeders: