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Bird Feeding Masterclass: Playing the Waiting Game

Over the years we have provided a lot of tips and tricks so that you can get the most out of your bird feeding experience. Here we have gathered all of that information in one 4-part series. This information is helpful for both the seasoned birder and the beginner, and takes you through the feeding process from start to finish.

Let’s face it, it can be frustrating to invest so much time, effort, and money into feeding your birds, just to watch them pass your feeder by. Does this mean that there is something wrong with the feeder? Or the food? Or you?? No. The truth is that even experienced birders face this problem when they offer a new feeder or new food. Sometimes birds take to a new set-up immediately, and sometimes it can take months (yes, months!).

There are some steps you can take to entice birds to your yard, such as meeting their needs for food, water, and shelter. You may read more about that here.

You already have your feeder. You already have it full of food. You have a water source in the form of a birdbath (that you keep free from algae with a water wiggler in the summer and free from ice with a deicer in the winter). And you have some low bushes or fallen branches for emergency shelter. The birds may be stopping by to look at the feeder, but they do not seem interested in stopping for a bite. What more can you possibly do? Troubleshoot.

  • Take down any popular feeders you may have and put your new feeder in its spot. The birds will not starve and they will come back. Once the feeder starts attracting visitors, you may move it to another safe spot and put your other feeders back out.
  • Scope out the space around the feeder. While the spot may work for you, it may not be the best place for the birds. Is the feeder close to a lot of vehicle or foot traffic? Is it a popular spot for pets or other animals? If you answered yes to either question, you may want to consider finding another spot where the feeder is still highly visible.
  • Spread some seed on and around the feeder to catch the birds’ attention. You will not want to do this too often, and you will want to stop once your feeder starts receiving visitors as this can attract unwanted birds and pests.
  • Continue to clean the feeder and refill with fresh seed every couple of weeks (more often in warm weather), even if it is not being used. You may put less seed in the feeder until the birds start emptying it themselves. Similarly, change and clean Hummingbird feeders every 4 days in cool weather and every 2 days in warm weather.