Birds And New Feeders

If you’ve recently started feeding the birds that visit your garden or put out some new bird feeders you may be a little disappointed that they haven’t already come flocking to their new source of food. In some gardens it may take birds just a few minutes before they start using a new feeder while in others it can take days or even weeks.

Blue Tit At Bird Feeder

This is quite normal – birds can take their time to find new feeders and initially they may be a little wary of exploring a new feeding area particularly if they are happily feeding in other gardens nearby.

Assuming you have chosen the correct type of feeders, there are a few things you can do to encourage birds to start using them.

Types of bird feeder

Attract birds to your garden

Once you have hung up your feeders leave them be. It can be tempting to check on them or move them about, but patience is key here. Birds do not like to be disturbed when they feed so if they don’t think they will feel safe they won’t use your feeders.

If you already have some bird feeders in your garden then place the new feeders somewhere nearby so the birds don’t have to look too far to find them. If you want to place the feeder in a new location, then move it away gradually from the others so the birds know to follow it.

Place bird feeders at different heights around your garden and in a safe location ideally near some trees and shrubs so that birds can safely fly to cover if they feel threatened. If you have squirrels or rodents in your garden then you may want to consider investing in a baffle to prevent them from raiding the feeders before birds get a chance to find them. If your neighbours’ cats regularly visit your garden then birds will be nervous about feeding so try using cat deterrents to stop them coming near.

Buy cat deterrents

Keep cats away from your garden birds

Birds are attracted by the sound of splashing water so if you have a bird bath or fountain in your garden try hanging new feeders near these. Don’t hang them too close as bird baths can get busy particularly in the summer and again, birds won’t use feeders if they think they are going to be disturbed.   

When you first put out a new feeder fill it with it with a popular type of bird food even if you plan to eventually use it for another type of food. Choose high quality bird food from a reputable supplier as birds will not eat food that is packed with filler or is old and stale. Sunflower seeds and hearts will often attract birds more quickly than seed mixes, but if you know there is something that your garden birds already enjoy fill up your feeders with the same food. Once birds get used to using the new feeder then you can add new kinds of food to it.

Buy sunflower hearts

A treat for your garden birds

Birds are attracted by the sound of splashing water so if you have a bird bath or fountain in your garden try hanging new feeders near these. Don’t hang them too close as bird baths can get busy particularly in the summer and again, birds won’t use feeders if they think they are going to be disturbed.   

When you first put out a new feeder fill it with it with a popular type of bird food even if you plan to eventually use it for another type of food. Choose high quality bird food from a reputable supplier as birds will not eat food that is packed with filler or is old and stale. Sunflower seeds and hearts will often attract birds more quickly than seed mixes, but if you know there is something that your garden birds already enjoy fill up your feeders with the same food. Once birds get used to using the new feeder then you can add new kinds of food to it.

Birds find food by sight, so put a little seed on top of the feeder of nearby on the ground to draw attention to it. You may also want to try temporarily removing other bird feeders so birds have less choice about where to feed. As they become accustomed to the new feeder you can return the other feeders.

If after several days you still haven’t seen any birds at the feeder check the seed levels to see whether they’re visiting it when you’re not there. Birds like to feed at dawn and dusk, so it may be that you’re just missing them. Also check that the feeding ports are the correct size so that birds can access the food easily. At this point you might want to move the feeder to a new spot but only if you think it’s the location of the feeder that is putting off birds.

You should also check that the seed hasn’t started to spoil in the feeder. If it has rained heavily you may need to replace the food if it has got wet otherwise it can go mouldy. And even if birds aren’t yet visiting your feeder you should still practise good hygiene and thoroughly clean your feeders regularly.

If you’ve put out a new feeder in the summer then it could be that there are plenty of natural food sources available and you may have to wait until the autumn or winter for birds to begin to use it.

As long as you have taken the proper steps to ensure your bird feeders are safe and attractive to birds then eventually you will be rewarded with lots of new garden visitors and your next challenge will be figuring out how often you should be refilling your feeders.

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