Birdfeeders come in a wide range of sizes, styles and designs, but the new feeder you choose isn’t always one that will be most attractive to the birds. Knowing how to get birds to use a new birdfeeder will help them transition from one feeder to another so you can add to your backyard buffet in whatever style you choose.
Getting New Feeders
As any backyard birder knows, a single birdfeeder is rarely adequate once you get hooked on feeding the birds. Whether you are choosing a larger feeder to accommodate more birds, getting different types of feeders for different types of seed or just adding more feeders for a growing flock, it is important to choose a feeder style that will be attractive to birds. Characteristics to consider include:
- Visibility so birds can see the seed
- Appropriate feeding ports for seed type and bird species
- Multiple perches or platforms to accommodate many birds
In addition, many birders prefer feeders that can hold larger quantities of seed so they do not need to be refilled as often. Feeders also come in a wide range of decorative styles, from natural designs to miniature buildings to artistic abstract shapes. Whatever type of feeder you choose, however, it can take time for birds to become accustomed to it and feed willingly.
How to Get Birds to Feed From a New Birdfeeder
In some backyards, it may take birds only a few minutes to begin using a new birdfeeder, while in others it may take days or weeks before they are comfortable with a new design. To get birds to use a new birdfeeder…
- Place the new feeder in the same general area as old feeders if possible. If the feeder needs to be located elsewhere, move it away from the old feeding station gradually so birds know to follow it.
- Position the feeder in an attractive, safe location, preferably near a brush pile or other type of shelter. Adding a nearby birdbath can also help birds notice and visit a new feeder.
- Fill a new feeder with the most popular type of birdseed you offer your backyard birds, even if it will eventually be used for another type of seed or food. Black oil sunflower seeds, sunflower hearts and nyger seed are the most popular and will attract birds more quickly than mixed seeds. Gradually mix in the desired seed to switch the feeder’s composition as the birds get used to it.
- Spread some seed on the top of the feeder, on a nearby platform or on the ground near the feeder to draw more attention to the location as a new feeding spot.
- Temporarily remove other birdfeeders offering similar seed to limit the choices birds have of where to feed. As they become accustomed to the new feeder, other feeders can be returned to duty.
- Accessorize the new feeder appropriately with a feeding platform to attract more birds or a squirrel baffle to deter pests and make the feeder more attractive to birds.
If Birds Still Aren’t Using the Feeder
If you don’t see birds at the new feeder after several days, take careful note of the seed levels to determine if they’re visiting the feeder and you simply aren’t seeing them. If the seed is not being eaten, observe your other backyard feeders carefully – it is possible that the birds have migrated or are generally visiting the backyard less, and therefore it will take them longer to get used to a new feeder.
Also be sure to check the seed quality you are offering in a new feeder. If the seed has not been eaten after several days, it may have become moldy or attracted insects and is thus less suitable for the birds. Keep the feeder filled with fresh seed for the best results in attracting birds. At the same time, double check the type of seed offered against the size of the feeding ports to be sure the birds can get to the seed without difficulty.
It takes time for birds to become accustomed to a new feeder and to visit it regularly. Patience is essential when using a new birdfeeder, but by taking proper steps to make the feeder attractive to the birds, you will soon be refilling it frequently.