Blog / Attracting Birds
With migratory birds departed to warmer regions, it’s a common misconception that there are fewer birds to enjoy in the winter months. On the contrary, winter is the one of the most beneficial seasons to feed wild birds! Since resources like insects, nuts and fruit become scarce, even birds who wouldn’t normally frequent bird feeders may come to your backyard if you offer them food, shelter, and water. Check out our top tips for winter bird feeding and set yourself up for a successful and enjoyable birding season!
Best seed and feed types
Suet: Suet is the purest and hardest piece of fat found on an animal. Packed with protein and nutrition, suet is a quick source of heat and energy for many birds including Woodpeckers, Titmice, Chickadees and Nuthatches. Also, many birds that eat insects to round out their diets will eat suet in the winter months to fill the void when the insects they typically feed on are not plentiful.
Black oil sunflower seed: One of the most popular seed types amongst backyard birds is black oil sunflower seed. These large, thick seeds have a high-oil content and are loaded with protein, fiber, calcium, and more nutrient rich contents.
Peanuts: Dry-roasted, unsalted peanuts are a high-energy food enjoyed by a wide variety of birds including Woodpeckers, Titmice, Nuthatches, Chickadees, Jays and more. They are high in both protein and fat, making them a great fuel for birds in winter.
Fresh and dried fruits: When fresh fruits become sparse in the winter, you can offer apple slices, berries, grapes, or even fruit rinds in a platform or suet feeder for the birds to munch on. Dried fruits like cherries, raisins, and cranberries remain high in fiber which is converted into energy. These fresh and dried fruits will attract Chickadees, Jays, Finches, Cardinals, Titmice, but be aware that offering this type of treat may attract unwanted wildlife, including raccoons, squirrels, and opossums. To deter them, try not to overfill your feeders, bring them inside at night, and make sure to keep them clean.
Best bird feeder types
Suet bird feeders: A suet feeder is a must-have for any winter birder! To accommodate larger birds like woodpeckers, some suet feeders are elongated into a tail-prop design, allowing them to balance their body weight by placing their tail against the feeder. Other suet feeders expose the suet at the bottom, making the contents inside less susceptible to incoming weather. These upside-down feeders also help deter nuisance birds like Starlings and Grackles who are most comfortable feeding upright.
Tube bird feeders: A strong and durable tube feeder is a great choice for feeding sunflower or Nyjer seed (using thistle inserts). The long, slim cylinder keeps the seed out of the elements while multiple feeding ports allow for many birds to feed at once. To make refilling easier, choose a high-capacity tube feeder with a wide and funneled opening to minimize the time spent outdoors in the chilly weather!
Hopper bird feeders: A high-capacity hopper bird feeder can hold a lot of seed (up to 6 quarts!) at once, making it a good choice to feed lots of birds with minimal refilling. Some hopper feeders also come with suet cages attached on either side, allowing multiple feed options in one to attract an even wider variety of winter birds.
Squirrel-proof bird feeders: Squirrels are an ever-present pest at bird feeders no matter the time of year, but especially in the winter when other food sources are scarce. A sturdy squirrel-proof feeder can help deter these unwanted feeder visitors by using a variety of mechanisms to deter feeder pests, including built-in roof baffles, weight-sensitive outer tubes and spring-loaded perches.
More feeding tips
Add more bird feeders: To increase bird traffic to your yard, consider increasing the number of bird feeders, as well as feeder styles, to provide the birds with a consistent food source of their liking. Not all bird species eat seeds, so adding feeders that accommodate suet, dried fruit or nuts will cater to a wider variety of birds.
Choose the right location: The location of your bird feeders should make the birds feel safe and at home. Birds are likely to feed more comfortably when near natural cover like trees, shrubs, or other vegetation. This provides shelter for birds to view their feeding area so they can see any predators while waiting for their turn to feed. Remember to keep the feeders roughly 10-12 feet from any tree or obstacle to deter unwanted pests from reaching the seed. To help prevent fatal window collisions, feeders should be hung or mounted closer than 3 feet or farther than 15 feet from a window.
Use a baffle: To protect the seeds and birds from incoming weather, use a baffle when hanging your bird feeder. A baffle can also help deter unwanted pests from accessing your bird feeders.
Keep them clean: Even in the colder winter months, it’s important to clean your bird feeders on a regular basis to prevent the buildup of bacteria that can cause disease. Feeders can sometimes be even busier during the winter months with the influx of migrating birds and as inclement weather makes other natural food sources harder to come by.
When freezing temperatures hit, locating fresh water can become difficult for wild birds. Providing a consistent source of clean and fresh water from a bird bath or fountain will keep your backyard birds hydrated in the cold winter months.
Don’t let it freeze: If your water source is stagnant, consider adding a fountain or a heater to keep the water moving. Place it in a location that receives full sun to help prevent the water from freezing too quickly. Keeping your bird bath full will help slow down the freezing process. A shallow bird bath can become frozen very quickly.
Keep it clean: It’s important to keep your water source clean and change the water often to prevent bacteria from forming and spreading amongst the birds.
Set up shelters
While birds and critters have many ways to keep warm in the winter, they still seek protection from storms, wind, and extreme temperatures. To help protect birds in inclement weather, make sure your yard has adequate shelters for birds to take cover or spend the night.
Birdhouses: While birds won’t use the houses to nest during the winter, they will take cover inside a birdhouse or roost box. Birdhouses are traditionally used for nesting and raising young in the spring and summer and are designed with air vents to promote air flow through the house. If you don’t own a roost box, you may choose to add some insulating material to your birdhouse, such as wood chips or straw, to help make the house a little warmer for visiting birds. Just make sure you clean it out in the early spring!
Natural shelters: The best place for birds to take shelter in the winter is in bushes, dense vegetation, or trees. But if your yard is lacking in plants and trees, you can set up some natural shelters using other materials. Have some leftover corn stalks or hay bales from fall decorations? How about your holiday tree? Gather up any natural materials in your yard and place them in a pile for the birds to use.
As fall draws nearer, migratory birds will set out on their journey to find locations with better resources through the winter. With the right preparations and resources, fall migration can be an exciting time to watch and learn about new birds passing through your backyard!
Get your bird feeders ready
While the birds travel to their winter destinations, they’ll be making stops along the way to refuel and rest. Since your feeders may be hosting more visits from travelers who are new to your backyard, it’s important to keep your bird feeders clean to avoid spreading diseases among birds. During fall migration, increase the frequency of your feeder cleanings to keep your backyard flocks healthy.
To appeal to the widest variety of birds, try filling your seed feeders with black oil sunflower seeds. This high-energy seed provides lots of nutrition and calories and is ideal for migratory birds making long journeys. High capacity bird feeders like tube, hopper and platform are great options for feeding black oil sunflower seed.
If you live in an area with migrating hummingbirds, continue to keep your hummingbird feeders stocked with homemade nectar for about two weeks after your see your last hummingbirds. This will ensure that you’re able to feed any latecomers on their way south.
In addition to their daily search for food, migrating birds will also be on the lookout for fresh water. Provide a source of clean and fresh water from a bird bath, fountain or a shallow pond. It’s important to keep your water source clean and change the water often to prevent bacteria from forming and spreading amongst the birds. If your water source is stagnant, you can add a fountain to keep the water moving and prevent it from becoming dirty quickly.
To help you make the most of this exciting time of year, follow the local bird migration alerts from BirdCast to find out whether birds will be passing overhead near your city tonight! BirdCast provides live and local bird migration alerts throughout the continental US by employing real-time analysis of bird migration traffic as detected by radar. You can also take a look at their bird migration forecast maps and live bird migration maps to see predicted and real-time intensities of actual nocturnal bird migration based on weather surveillance and historical bird movements.
Identify your new feathered friends
Since you’ll be seeing some new faces around your feeders, get ready to identify them with these recommended resources:
- Merlin Bird ID app: Answer three simple questions about a bird you are trying to identify and Merlin will give you a list of possible matches. Merlin offers quick identification help for all levels of bird watchers to help you learn about the birds across the Americas, Europe, Asia, Africa, and Oceania.
- National Geographic Field Guide: This fully revised edition of the best-selling North American bird field guide is the most up-to-date guide on the market. Perfect for beginning to advanced birders, it is the only book organized to match the latest American Ornithological Society taxonomy.
- State-specific field guides: Author, naturalist and wildlife photographer Stan Tekiela is the originator of the popular state-specific field guide series and many easy-to-use identification guides for the U.S.
As nesting season comes to an end and alternative food sources are in abundance, you may see less activity at your bird feeders in the heat of the summer months. But don’t let this discourage you from birding! The birds are still present in your backyard, laying low as they begin to prepare for fall migration. Continue to provide your backyard birds with food, water and shelter and make the most out of summer birding with these tips!
Don’t stop feeding the birds
With insects, fruit, and seeding plants providing plenty of nutrition for a bird’s summer diet, they may find it less necessary to visit a bird feeder. But even if you don’t see as much activity at your feeders, keeping them full throughout the entire season gives the birds a consistent source of nourishment and may make them more likely return throughout the year or even next season. Keep your feeders stocked, cleaned, and if possible, in the shade to keep the seed or nectar fresh longer and to provide a cool and comfortable place for the birds to feed. If feeding suet, choose a no-melt variety that will keep longer when exposed to hot temperatures.
Plant bird-friendly vegetation
To attract more birds to your backyard, consider adding bird-friendly native vegetation to your landscape. The additional nutrition from the fruit, seeds, nectar and insects who inhabit the plant will keep the birds coming back to your yard. Do some research on the birds in your area and find out which flowers, bushes and trees they prefer and get planting!
Note: It is advised to avoid the use of pesticides on plants since they could eliminate beneficial insects that can improve the health of the plants. Consider adding a beneficial insect house near your plants as a chemical-free alternative.
Provide fresh water
All birds drink water and need to bathe regularly to keep their feathers clean. Providing a consistent source of clean and fresh water from a bird bath, fountain or a shallow pond will keep your backyard birds cool and hydrated in the heat of the summer.
It’s important to keep your water source clean and change the water often to prevent bacteria from forming and spreading amongst the birds. Try to place your water source in the shade to keep it from drying out and getting too hot in the sun. If your water source is stagnant, you can add a fountain to keep the water moving and prevent it from becoming dirty quickly.
Provide nesting sites
In addition to setting up bird feeders, another way to attract birds to your yard is to provide adequate nesting sites like birdhouses, bushes, dense vegetation, or tall trees. If birds have their nest close by, they will still be present in and around your yard even if they don’t visit your bird feeders.
Become an early birder
As the saying goes, the early bird gets the worm! To beat the summer heat, birds forage and visit feeders in the early morning hours so they don’t have to expend as much energy staying cool. Try waking up with the birds and watching for increased activity.
As always, be patient and don’t be afraid to try something new to get the most enjoyment out of summer birding season!
Designed to attract a wide variety and volume of birds year-round, a bird feeding station is the ultimate one-stop shop for your backyard birds. It can become an attractive part of your landscape that provides the birds with nutrition, shade, and a safe environment. Follow these steps to choose the right location and learn about what basic elements should be included in a bird feeding station.
1. Choose a location
Whether it’s in an existing landscape or a whole new area you’ll be creating for your bird feeding station, think about where you spend your time both indoors and out. Walk around inside your house and position yourself in the spots you spend the most time in. You’ll want to choose a location where you can easily view your birding station through a window to get the most enjoyment out of it. If you plan to keep up your bird feeding station throughout the winter months, you may want to choose a location that you won’t mind navigating to in undesirable weather.
Above all else, the location of your bird feeding station should make the birds feel safe and at home. Birds are likely to feed more comfortably when near natural cover like trees, shrubs, or other vegetation. This provides shelter for birds to view their feeding area so they can see any predators while waiting for their turn to feed. Remember to keep the feeders roughly 10-12 feet from any tree or obstacle to deter unwanted pests from reaching the seed. To help prevent fatal window collisions, feeders should be hung or mounted closer than 3 feet or farther than 15 feet from a window.
2. Install a hanging method
Wherever you decide to hang your bird feeders, it’s important to choose a hanging method that is durable and sturdy. There are an abundance of decorative and simple types of yard poles and hooks available, from a traditional shepherd’s hook to a completely customizable and adjustable hook and display system like the AdjustaPole Yard Kit. You may choose to install several hooks of varying heights for visual interest. Or you could make it a statement area with a pergola or decorative trellis with hooks and spaces for feeders to be hung.
If you’ll be placing your bird feeder in an area with lots of squirrel activity, a pole baffle can be used to prevent squirrels or other pests from climbing up a pole or jumping down onto the feeders from above.
Note: We do not recommend hanging bird feeders from tree branches as this can give squirrels and pests easy access to the feeder content.
3. Select your bird feeders
Now comes the fun part – adding your feeders! Consider which birds you want to try and attract to your bird feeding station. Platform, tube and hopper bird feeders can accommodate several different seed types and will attract a wide variety of birds, while specialty feeders like hummingbird, Oriole and Bluebird are made to attract more specific bird types. And don’t forget about suet feeders! Suet is a great high energy option to offer the birds in the winter months but can also be fed throughout the year to attract woodpeckers and other birds. If squirrels are a known issue in your yard, you could consider putting up squirrel proof feeders to help deter them.
Be sure to choose feeders with features that will make it easy for you to keep clean and is safe, comfortable and healthy for the birds. For more help finding the right bird feeders for your yard, take a look at our bird feeder guide.
4. Provide a water source
The secret ingredient to any bird feeding station is a fresh source of water. All birds drink water and need to bathe regularly to keep their feathers clean. Providing a consistent source of clean and fresh water from a bird bath, fountain or a shallow pond will keep your backyard birds happy so they return regularly. Plus, even birds who don’t typically eat from bird feeders do need a water source which will increase the variety of birds who visit your bird feeding station. It’s important to keep your water source clean and change the water often to prevent bacteria from forming and spreading amongst the birds. If your water source is stagnant, you can add a fountain to keep the water moving and prevent it from becoming dirty quickly.
5. Plant the right plants
Depending on the feeders you choose and the type of birds you’re trying to attract, try to plant a few complementary native plants near your birding station. Native plants can provide the birds with additional nutrition from fruit, seeds, nectar and insects who inhabit the plant. Birds are more comfortable feeding when they have shelter or a quick hiding place nearby. Do some research on the birds in your area and find out which flowers, bushes and trees they prefer and add some color to your bird feeding station!
Note: It is advised to avoid the use of pesticides on plants since they could eliminate beneficial insects that can improve the health of the plants. Consider adding a beneficial insect house near your birding station as a chemical-free alternative.
6. Maintain it
Carrying and pouring big heavy bags of bird seed without spilling can be challenging. A bag clip like the Handle-it bag clip can help you transport small and large bags of bird seed from your garage or shed to multiple feeders with ease. The seed can be stored right inside the bag with the secure latching system and screw cap so you don’t have to worry about it spilling or spoiling.
No matter what type of feeders or seeds you provide, routine cleaning of your bird feeding station is an essential step to keep your backyard flocks healthy and avoid spreading diseases among birds. With feeding the birds comes some unavoidable mess like droppings, shelled seed and feathers. Keep the birds happy and healthy by regularly cleaning your feeders, keeping your water sources fresh and tidying up the area.
Some bird feeders and their parts are dishwasher safe and can be placed on the top rack after disassembling. Be sure to check the manufacturer’s recommendations before placing any feeder parts into your dishwasher. To wash by hand, typically all you’ll need is unscented dish detergent, a scrubbing brush or sponge and warm water. Take a look at our bird feeder cleaning instructions for further information on why and how often to clean your bird feeders.
Stagnant bird baths can be a breeding ground for harmful bacteria and microorganisms that can spread amongst your backyard birds. Don’t forget to clean and change out your water source on a regular basis whether it’s a bird bath, fountain or shallow dish.
The final step
Enjoy it! If you’ve set up your bird feeding station according to the steps described here, you’ll soon be having birds flock to it year-round. Be sure to have your camera, binoculars and checklists ready to record how many types of visitors you can see in your backyard!
With their iridescent feathers and shimmering wings, hummingbirds bring quick bursts of color into our backyards! Many of us look for brightly colored flowers and feeders when trying to attract hummingbirds. Color can help birds remember food sources, signal danger and even find a mate. But what colors are hummingbirds actually attracted to?
As you look for an attractive hummingbird feeder, chances are you’ll find an abundance of red, red and more red! Why do hummingbirds seem to gravitate towards this fiery color? Researchers have studied to find the answer to this tricky question.
To understand how hummingbirds perceive color, it’s helpful to first think about the color spectrum humans are capable of seeing. Humans have three types of color cones – red, green and blue, allowing us to see all the colors of the rainbow (spectral hues). Nonspectral hues are considered colors seen outside of the rainbow. For example, we can perceive the color purple because it stimulates our red and blue color cones simultaneously.
Hummingbirds have four color cone types in their eyes, creating color possibilities that we can only dream of! Hummingbirds are able to see a variety of nonspectral colors in near UV, including UV+red, UV+green, UV+yellow and purple. And while research has shown that hummingbirds have a heightened sensitivity to the red and yellow end of the color spectrum, they’re also attracted to many more colors that humans can only imagine - so don't let that limit your feeder choices!
Expand your color palette
Now that you understand the range of hues that hummingbirds can see, don’t be afraid to try out new colors and types of feeders that will both attract the birds and beautify your backyard. We have a wide variety of bright and bold styles of handblown glass feeders in reds, pinks or blues, like the Artisan Gravity Hummingbird Feeder - Sunny Day or our best-selling Illuminated Hummingbird Feeder with a solar-powered LED light.
Or give our So Real Series a try, with realistic flowers in oranges and reds, like the So Real Mini 3D Hummingbird Feeder, or pinks, and purples, like the So Real Gravity Hummingbird Feeder - Pink Fuchsia.
Of course, there’s nothing wrong with a traditional red hummingbird feeder! Our Traditional Window Hummingbird Feeder will mount right onto your window for the closest hummingbird viewing. Or a Traditional Gravity Hummingbird Feeder might be just what you’re looking for.
It’s all about the nectar
More important than the color of the feeder is what’s inside of it. Be sure to reward the hummingbirds with sweet homemade nectar and soon you’ll be enjoying regular visits from your feathered friends!
Setting up a nectar feeder is one of the simplest ways to attract hummingbirds to your yard. Being a responsible hummingbird host can sometimes come with challenges, so we’ve put together the solutions to some of the most common hummingbird feeder questions to help you get the most out of your hummingbird feeder!
Why aren’t the hummingbirds coming to my feeder?
There are a few different factors that could be causing a hummingbird to choose a different source of food. Hummingbirds are migratory birds, meaning they leave and return from a specific area seasonally. As they return from migration and end up in their ultimate destination, they will remember the source of their first meals - oftentimes coming back to the same feeders repeatedly. For the best chance of hummingbirds discovering your feeder, it is recommended to have it up and ready before they return from their winter migration. Be sure to research the migratory pattern of hummingbirds in your area to make sure you haven’t put your feeder out too late, since this can cause them to overlook it later in the season.
One thing to keep in mind is that all birds are creatures of habit. They may be hesitant to try out a new feeder, especially if you have been offering nectar in other feeders – a tried and true food source. It could also take some time for the hummingbirds to get used to a new landing pattern or learn the mechanics of drinking from a new feeding port. It may take several weeks before the hummingbirds find and begin feeding regularly from a new feeder. Before making any changes, try waiting at least two weeks to give them enough time to discover your feeder.
Here are some more tips to help attract birds to your hummingbird feeder:
- Take down other feeders: Hummingbirds may prefer to feed from dependable food sources like existing feeders. If you have other nectar feeders in your yard, try temporarily taking them down until the hummingbirds find and use the new feeder. Once they are regularly using the new feeder, existing feeders can go back up.
- Increase the sugar content: Try slightly increasing the sugar content of your nectar. This will immediately reward the hummingbirds for visiting your feeder and encourage them to come back. Once until the hummingbirds are regularly drinking from your feeder, you can then lower the water to sugar ratio back down to the recommended 4:1.
- Keep it clean: It is recommended nectar feeders be cleaned at least every 4-5 days. To clean, take down your feeder and discard any unconsumed sugar water. Take apart your feeder and flush it with warm water. You must also change the nectar frequently - at least twice a week. If you notice that the nectar is turning milky, or that white strings or black spots are growing in it, change it more often. If you notice any mold, take down the feeder immediately, give it a thorough cleaning and follow the steps below to prevent mold growth on your feeder.
- Change locations: Placing feeders near flower beds or planters may naturally attract more hummingbirds to your feeder. 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.
What should I put in my hummingbird feeder?
The formula for hummingbird food is simple: about one part white granulated sugar to four parts water. Boil the water for approximately 2 minutes, add the sugar, and stir to dissolve thoroughly. We do not recommend adding red dye to the nectar mixture. Cover and allow the nectar to cool before using or pouring into a clean storage bottle. A large batch of nectar can be made and stored in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. This makes refilling the feeder easy so you won't mind doing it every few days.
How do I keep mold from growing on my hummingbird feeder?
It is inevitable that sugar water will eventually break down and cause mold, fungus, or other harmful bacteria to grow inside of a hummingbird feeder. To prevent mold growth, hummingbird feeders should be taken down and cleaned at least every 4-5 days. To clean, take down your feeder and discard any unconsumed sugar water. Take apart your feeder and flush it with warm water. If mold is present, you can sanitize the feeder by placing all dishwasher-safe parts in the dishwasher for a thorough cleaning. If washing by hand, soak and clean the feeder thoroughly with a solution of ¼ cup bleach to one gallon of water. Rinse thoroughly and allow to dry completely before refilling.
Since mold growth can be accelerated by heat, especially in the warmer summer months, try keeping your feeder in a shaded area. Keeping the nectar cool helps to delay fermentation which is the process that causes nectar to spoil and mold to grow.
How do I prevent bees at my hummingbird feeder?
Bees, wasps, and hornets are hardly welcome guests at any feeder and can be harmful to hummingbirds if stung. Typically, if bees don’t have access to the nectar, they should eventually move on from the feeder to a more rewarding source. Here are some additional tips to help deter the bees:
- Keep it clean: Make sure there is no exposed nectar on or around the outside of your feeder and thoroughly clean it with warm soapy water every 4-5 days at minimum.
- Change it up: Periodically move your feeder. Birds will usually look around and find a relocated feeder, but insects will not.
- Lower the nectar level: If using a dish style feeder, try decreasing the amount of nectar in your in the dish to keep it lower than the feeding ports. This will make it more difficult for bees to reach. Keep in mind that a hummingbird’s tongue is twice as long as its beak so it can easily reach near the bottom of the dish.
- Get in the shade: If the feeder is currently in the sun, try moving it to a more shaded area.
How do I keep ants off my hummingbird feeder?
Although hummingbirds do eat insects, they do not eat ants. The presence of ants on your hummingbird feeder can prevent them from using it, or the ants may enter the feeder and contaminate the nectar which can be harmful to hummingbirds. Here are some ant-proofing tips to try:
Use an ant moat: Many hummingbird feeders have built-in ant moats, which trap ants in a small cup of water before they have the opportunity to reach the feeder. If your feeder does not come with an ant moat, you may choose to purchase one separately. Be sure to keep it full of water! If the weather is particularly hot and the water is evaporating quickly, check it regularly to prevent it from sitting empty.
- Keep it clean: Make sure there is no exposed nectar on or around the outside of your feeder and thoroughly clean it with warm soapy water every 4-5 days at minimum.
- Change it up: Periodically move your feeder. Birds will usually look around and find a relocated feeder, but insects will not.
- Get in the shade: If the feeder is currently in the sun, try moving it to a more shaded area.
- Try fishing line: You may try hanging your feeder using fishing line, as it is very difficult for ants to climb. Keep in mind this may not be feasible for heavier feeders.
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.
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 late 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!
Identifying Baltimore Orioles:
Slightly smaller and more slender than an American Robin, Baltimore Orioles range from 6.7 to 7.5 inches in length and feature long legs, a thick neck, and long pointed bills. Adult male Baltimore Orioles have black feathers on their head and wings, bright orange tell-tale plumage on their chest and underside, and a single solid white bar on each wing. Females and immature males are a more muted yellow-orange with grayish shading on the head, and gray wings with two white bars on each wing.
Above left: A female Baltimore Oriole on a specialized jelly and orange feeder.
Above right: A male Baltimore Oriole on a specialized feeder offering nectar, jelly, and oranges.
Where Baltimore Orioles Live:
Baltimore Orioles are a migratory bird that breed in the eastern portion of the United States and South-central Canada during summer months. Keep an eye out for these birds arriving from early April to mid-May. Their season is short, with some departing as early as late July for wintering grounds in Florida, the Caribbean, and Central America.
How to Attract Baltimore Orioles to Your Feeder:
These birds are often heard more than seen as they typically forage high in trees for insects, flowers, and fruit. They tend to be more skittish than other backyard birds, but you can be successful in attracting them to feeders. One of the simplest ways to attract Baltimore Orioles to your yard is to set up an oriole feeder.
Maintaining a clean feeder is always important for the health of your birds, but is even more important when offering feeds rich in sugar as these feeds can spoil quickly, especially in the hot summer weather. It is recommended oriole feeders be cleaned every 4-5 days. To clean, take down your feeder and discard any unconsumed jelly or fruit. Flush feeder with warm water. Scrub using either a mild solution of unscented dish detergent and warm water, or sanitize using a solution of 9 parts water to 1 part bleach. Rinse thoroughly and allow to dry completely before refilling.
What Baltimore Orioles Eat:
In the spring and fall, a Baltimore Oriole's diet is composed mainly of nectar and ripe fruit. Including flowering trees and shrubs such as crabapple and mulberries in your landscaping can help to draw these birds to your yard. The most common food offering for Baltimore Oriole's are oranges, which can be sliced in half and placed in a specialized feeder, or even nailed directly to a tree (or impaled through a smaller branch). A slightly more specialized feeder can allow the offering of additional feed options, such as nectar (sugar water) and grape jelly.
While breeding and feeding their young, a significant portion of the Baltimore Oriole's diet consists of protein-rich insects. Not overall picky, these birds will consume a wide variety of beetles, crickets, caterpillars, snails, and other small invertebrates. The protein derived from these insects is pivotal in the growth and development of the young, and we strongly encourage withholding the use of broad-spectrum insecticides in your yard to ensure a food source during this crucial stage.
Baltimore Orioles build extremely unique hanging sock-like nests woven together from slender fibers constructed in the slender upper branches of a tree. Typically these nests are 3 to 4 inches deep with a smaller opening on top and a bulging bottom chamber up to 4 inches across where the eggs are laid. Females gather materials for and construct the nest within the territory defended by her mate. Males will occasionally aid in collection of nesting materials which can consist of long grass, strips of grapevine bark, horsehair, as well as artificial materials such as twine or fishing line (*please do not purposefully set out these artificial materials as they are not the safest options for the birds).
Each pair will raise one brood consisting of 3-7 eggs each season. Eggs are roughly an inch in length and 0.6-0.7 inches in width and are a pale gray with black or brown marbling. Eggs typically hatch within 14 days and the young will fledge in an additional 14 days.
Have you seen any Baltimore Orioles on your feeders recently?
Because of their small size, quick flight pattern and migratory nature, hummingbirds can be tricky but rewarding to spot. Setting up a hummingbird feeder is one of the simplest ways you can attract hummingbirds to your yard. There are many types of nectar feeders available including saucer, window, gravity and more. With so many possibilities, consider these factors when choosing a hummingbird feeder for your yard.
When are hummingbirds in your area?
Where will you be placing your feeder?
Placing feeders near flower beds or planters may help you attract more birds to your yard. Most hummingbird feeders come with hanging hooks so you can hang them from a pole or tree. You may even consider a feeder with an additional hanging hook built into the bottom, like the So Real 3D Flower Hummingbird Feeder - Pink, so you can connect multiple feeders from top to bottom, increasing amount of hummingbirds you can feed in one location.
For a close-up view of the hummingbirds, you may want to put up a window feeder. Window feeders, like the So Real Window Hummingbird Feeder - Honeysuckle, are built with a suction cup mounting system that attaches directly to your window, giving you a unique opportunity to see these flying jewels up close like never before.
How many hummingbirds do you typically feed in a season?
If you receive only a few hummingbird visitors in a season, you may opt for a lower capacity feeder like the Mason Jar Hummingbird Feeder or the So Real Mini 3D Hummingbird Feeder. Less nectar is needed in these smaller feeders, making it less wasteful for you and fresher for the hummingbirds.
If you regularly feed or sight ten or more hummingbirds in your yard, you may need a large capacity feeder like the Artisan Gravity Hummingbird Feeder - Sunny Day or the So Real Gravity Hummingbird Feeder - Pink Fuchsia. These types of feeders can hold 20+ ounces of nectar, ensuring that you have enough food for all of your visitors.
Which style of hummingbird feeder do you like best?
Nectar feeders come in seemingly endless beautiful, unique and traditional designs. Looking for a durable, hand-blown glass feeder with colors that won’t fade over time? Check out the Garden Hummingbird Feeder - Molten. Or how about a feeder that looks like a real flower, like the So Real series? Give the So Real 3D Flower Hummingbird Feeder – Purple a try. Looking for a classic design? Our Traditional Gravity Hummingbird Feeder is sure to be a favorite for both you and the hummingbirds.
For a unique, decorative design, take a look at the Illuminated Hummingbird Feeder. It comes equipped with a solar-powered LED light that transforms it from a daytime feeder into a beautiful lantern at night!
What features are you looking for in a hummingbird feeder?
It’s important to be a responsible host for your hummingbirds to keep them healthy and safe. Nectar feeders should be cleaned 1-2 times a week, so be sure to choose a feeder that is easy to fill and clean. All Nature’s Way nectar feeders are dishwasher safe with removable parts, making them simple for you to disassemble and clean.
Bees and ants are naturally attracted to the sweet nectar inside a hummingbird feeder, but these insects can create problems for you and the hummingbirds. Many feeders come equipped with a built-in ant moat to deter these frequent feeder pests. If bees are a concern, look for a feeder with a domed bee-resistant design.
What is your budget?
Hummingbird feeders can range from less than $10 up to $30 or more. With a wide variety of features available at every price range, you’re sure to find a feeder with innovative designs at the budget you desire.
Hummingbirds will come eagerly to feeders stocked with sugar water. Once found, they will learn to seek out this rich food even if the location or appearance of the feeder is changed.
The tried and true formula for hummingbird food is simple: about one part white granulated sugar to four parts water. Boil the water for approximately 2 minutes, add the sugar, and stir to dissolve thoroughly. Cover and allow to cool before using or pouring into a clean storage bottle. We do not recommend adding red dye to the nectar mixture.
A large batch of nectar can be made and stored in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. This makes refilling the feeder easy so you won't mind doing it every few days.
You must change the nectar frequently - at least twice a week. The need to change the nectar depends on the temperatures, where the feeder is hung, and number and frequency of hummingbirds feeding at your feeder. If the birds are not emptying your feeder between cleanings, it's unnecessary and wasteful to fill it completely. Fill only with the amount of nectar they will consume in a few days. Over time you will get a feel for how much nectar to put in the feeder. If you notice that the nectar is turning milky, or that white strings or black spots are growing in it, change it more often.
In order to be a responsible host, you must keep your feeder clean and full of fresh nectar. Every four or five days take down your feeder and discard any unconsumed sugar water. Take apart your feeder and flush with hot tap water – a little vinegar can be added to the water to help prevent mold from becoming established. Visually inspect the feeder for black mold. If mold is present, place all parts in dishwasher for a thorough cleaning. A pipe cleaner or small brush will be needed to pre-clean the stainless steel tubes of the bottom-fill feeders prior to placing in the dishwasher or when washing the feeder parts by hand.