- Where Should I Hang My Bird Feeder?
- Things You Should Keep In Mind As A Bird Watcher
- How To Hang Bird Feeders
- Bird Feeder Placement by Season
- Finding The Most Suitable Bird Feeder
- Attracting Birds (When Bird Feeder Placement Is Not Enough)
- Final Thoughts on Bird Feeder Placement
Learn Everything You Need To Know About Where To Place Bird Feeders In Your Yard For Best Results – Great For Novices And Experienced Birdwatchers
Bird feeding is more than just giving the birds the right food or getting the best bird feeders. It’s also about knowing where to place your bird feeders for the best results. The earlier I figured this out, the less problems I had to deal with.
Proper bird feeder placement can make a big difference in how your whole backyard looks to your feathered friends. It will either make your yard look more attractive or less attractive to them. On top of that, a good bird feeder location will make it easier for you to watch the birds.
Finding the best location for your bird feeders will involve a lot of factors, including:
And that’s why in this article, I’m going to share with you some basic things you should know about finding the best location for your bird feeder. We’ll also discuss:
- How to properly hang bird feeders
- Finding a suitable bird feeder
- Attracting birds when bird feeder placement is not enough
So, if these are things you’d want to know, read on. This is your most extensive guide on bird feeder placement…
Where Should I Hang My Bird Feeder?
As mentioned above, when choosing the best location for your bird feeder, you need to consider several factors, especially ones that would affect the birds’ safety. Below are ten factors that might help you decide where to place your bird feeder:
1. Consider Natural Feeding
When deciding where to hang a bird feeder, it’s highly recommended to consider the bird’s natural feeding preferences.
As we know, birds can feed straight from trees, tree trunks, flowers, or the ground. So, even if you’re giving them commercial bird food, why not make them feel like they’re getting them naturally? This way, the birds become more familiar with them, and they would most likely eat it.
Let’s take a nectar feeder, for example.
If you’re going to serve sugar water or nectar, it’s best to put it in a nectar feeder.
Now, nectar feeders are best placed near nectar-producing flowers. This way, the feeders will be easily recognized compared to when you put them on top of a tree.
Another example is platform feeders.
Even if they’re for ground-feeding birds, you can’t just put them in any area where there’s ground. Try to think about what ground-feeding birds are looking for when they’re feeding. Probably safety, right?
That’s why these birds would most probably be interested in a ground feeder if it’s a place near the shrubbery where they feel protected.
Simply thinking about these factors will make a lot of difference in making your bird feeders more popular to birds.
For this to work, think about what kind of birds you wish to attract, what they usually eat, and their feeding preferences. With the right and thoughtful setup, you will help make your feeders more attractive to birds.
Birds are more sensitive to noise than humans. What we hear as a low sound can be very loud to them and scare them away.
This is why you should place your bird feeders in a location where there’s less activity. Probably far away from your driveway, garage door, the kids’ playground, etc.
If you have wind chimes, it’s probably best to remove them or just keep them away from the bird feeders.
Some birds may be less sensitive than others or might get accustomed to sounds, especially if these birds are used to human interactions. However, for birds who are not used to humans or are shy, a slight noise can cause them to fly away.
Sounds that you need to avoid would include:
- Loud volume: If you’re trying to attract birds using recorded natural sounds, don’t make it too loud, or you’ll only end up overwhelming the birds.
- Predators: Predator sounds will not only drive birds away, but they might scare birds away for good. If there are frequent predator sounds coming from your yard, birds will eventually consider your area dangerous.
So, if you have pets like cats and dogs, train them to keep meows and barks to a minimum. Or if you’re a bird watcher, it’s most probably better if you don’t own pets. It’s up to you!
- Music: Birds love singing, but human music can be a turn-off to most of them. They might appreciate soft melodies and harmonies, but there’s really no telling what kind of music they would enjoy hearing.
- Humans: If you’ve been feeding backyard birds for long, then chances are there are used to your voice. However, that doesn’t mean that they will like whatever human voices they hear.
Arguments, laughter, loud conversations, and kids’ yelling while playing can easily scare birds away. So, if it’s peak time for birds to feed, keep the kids indoors and quietly watch the birds feed.
Preventing these sounds from becoming frequent in your yard will help you attract more birds. However, although birds are sensitive to sounds, there are certain sounds that birds might be attracted to. This includes:
- Water splashes: If you’re planning to get a birdbath, one where the water moves can be more attractive than the stagnant ones.
The sound of bubbling, dripping, and splashing can easily catch the attention of a thirsty bird even from great distances. You can also create a small pond or stream where you can just allow water to flow continuously.
- Insect buzzes: Most birds are omnivores, which means they can easily get attracted by insects. So, if you have insects around, don’t kill them. Birds can do that work for you.
- Bird chatters: Make your yard attractive for different bird species. This way, you give birds time to socialize, eventually attracting more bird species. This is probably more effective during the winter months, as most birds are not territorial during these times.
For this reason, some bird watchers use bird recordings to convince birds that there are other birds in the area. Although this may be effective, using this method excessively can cause birds to turn around, too, thinking that other birds have already claimed the territory.
Another sound you can make that birds would surely come flying in is the sound of bird seeds as they are poured in the bird feeders. If there are birds nearby, they are most probably familiar with this sound, and it immediately indicates to them that food is available.
Should you put your bird feeder out in the sun or under a shade?
This has always been an undergoing debate among bird watchers. Unfortunately, there’s no correct answer.
The truth is, certain bird feeders must be placed in a shaded area. This includes some bird seeds, nectar, bird seed cakes, and suet that is easily prone to spoilage when not cared for properly.
Apart from reducing the possibilities of food spoiling too early, a shaded area also provides protection for your bird feeders. There’s less wind, less rain, or less snow that can damage the feeder.
It has also been found that shaded areas offer better aesthetics if you want to get pictures of birds. Photos appear more natural compared to when you expose bird feeders under the sun.
Although a shaded area provides protection from elements like the wind that might rock your bird feeder down to the ground, it’s probably best if you place bird feeders in a non-windy location.
In other words, don’t depend on the shade alone!
The wind is probably one of the greatest enemies of bird feeders. If it doesn’t knock your bird feeders off, it will likely spill all the bird seeds out. And though this is good news for ground-feeding birds (and squirrels), it doesn’t make other birds that depend on feeders happy.
Also, birds won’t really come out to eat if the wind is too much for them.
If the wind is also one of the toughest problems in your area, here are four tricks that might help you protect your bird feeders:
Move Bird Feeder Location
Fortunately, wind direction can be predictable, depending on the season. So this gives us time to move around our bird feeders in areas where the wind won’t affect them.
Of course, this method can be quite annoying and inconvenient. But, if you want the best for those little birds, it’s actually worth some of the work.
Use A Bird Pole
Instead of hanging your bird feeders, why not mount them on top of bird poles?
Bird poles are made of metal and are usually buried deep on the ground. If you give them enough protection, like planting trees around, the wind won’t be able to move them. And that’s why mounting a bird feeder on top is a perfect solution.
Just don’t forget to put extra protection under, like a baffle, to prevent squirrels from climbing up.
Remove Bird Feeders
The next thing you can do is to remove bird feeders completely. But of course, not every time a strong wind comes.
Listen to weather forecasts and remove bird feeders ahead when a storm is coming. When there’s a storm, the wind is going to be really strong, knocking off bird feeders along with the bird seeds. And it would be a complete waste of bird seeds if you just let them out there.
But what about the birds?
Birds can also be sensitive to wind. Most birds won’t really fight against the wind to get food. The first thing they’ll seek is shelter.
Once the storm is over, that’s the time they’ll resume looking for food. So, keep the bird feeders ready and put them back in place.
Weatherproof Bird Feeders
If you don’t want the hassle of removing your bird feeder or moving them around, then perhaps the next big thing you can do is weatherproofing them.
You have two options:
- Using a baffle on top of feeders
- Adding some weight
Using a baffle can be effective in protecting your bird feeder and bird seeds against slight weather changes. However, this may not be effective to use when a storm is coming.
You can also add some weight to your bird feeder so it stays in place, especially if you’re hanging your feeder. You can probably buy a bigger feeder, so it’s heavier, or add an extra weight under.
Next, find an area that may provide birds shelter – a place where they can easily hide in case a predator comes, the weather changes, or while they wait until other birds leave the feeder.
The more the birds feel safe and comfortable, the more frequently they will visit your yard and eat from your bird feeders.
So, how do you do this?
It’s quite simple.
The first step would be to evaluate your yard.
Try to take a look at your trees, shrubs, and plant varieties and ask yourself:
Will these attract birds?
If not, then probably it’s time to add more plants in your yard that are surely bird magnets. These include:
- Trees that provide shelter
- Brush piles
- Fruit-bearing and seed-bearing plants
- Nectar-producing flowers
While you’re thinking about what plants and trees to add, you should also think about:
What birds are frequent in your area?
What kind of birds do you want to attract?
Birds have different preferences when it comes to shelter and food. So, by knowing your birds, you discover what kind of plants you need to plant and what type of shelter you need to provide.
Once you’ve considered what birds you want to attract, make sure that there’s a variety of those in your yard—trees of different heights, shrubs, trail vines, and ground cover.
Aside from trees, here are three other things that will serve as shelter for birds:
- Dead Wood: If you think it’s safe, don’t cut down dead limbs and trees from your yard. Some birds prefer to live in deadwood and make natural cavities in them. It’s also a good source of insects for woodpeckers, nuthatches, and chickadees.
If you think deadwood won’t make your yard attractive, you can decorate it with trailing vines to make it prettier.
- Brush Pile: If you can’t leave dead trees or dead branches standing, recycle them and start a brush pile. This is the best protection you can provide for your ground-dwelling birds from rain, snow, and wind.
Arrange your brush piles by putting the thicker branches right at the bottom of the pile and the thinner ones on top.
- Leave a Mess: Leaving a mess may not be an ideal thing to do as you may attract squirrels. However, as long as you put them in the right place, it won’t be much of a problem.
Rake fallen leaves and put them under your brushes to act as mulch. This will help attract insects for ground-feeding birds to find. At the same time, the mess can be a good source of nest material for birds during the nesting season.
Apart from natural shelter, you can create artificial shelters to protect the birds. You can build a small shed near the trees where you can hang all the bird feeders under. This way, the bird feeders and birds will be safe from predators and terrible weather conditions.
6. The 5-7-9 Rule
The 5-7-9 rule is always applied when squirrels are frequent in your area.
The idea behind is pretty simple:
Squirrels cannot jump more than 5 feet up from the ground, more than 7 feet across from any side platform, and more than 9 feet down from a tree or building.
As long as you keep bird feeders away from these measurements, squirrels will be the least of your worries.
Sadly, this rule may not be applicable for many backyards, especially if trees are close together. There are also cases that when you use this exact measurement, the bird feeder will end up being very far from your view.
If this happens, you might need to do some extra squirrel-proofing.
Window collisions are one of the number one causes of birds’ death. That’s why it’s very important to consider your windows as a factor in bird feeder placement.
You have two choices – it’s either you keep feeders very far or very close to your windows.
Sounds contradicting, right? But hear me out.
You can position bird feeders less than 3 feet from the window and greater than 10 feet away from a window.
So, anywhere between 3 feet and 10 feet is a no-no.
By positioning your bird feeders more than 10 feet away from windows, you’re minimizing the risk of birds actually hitting windows. This is because there is enough space for birds to maneuver and avoid any accidents.
On the other hand, by positioning bird feeders less than 3 feet, you’re reducing the impact of birds hitting a window. Thus, reducing fatality.
The next thing you need to consider is the bird feeder’s visibility.
One way to do this is to place your bird feeder in an open area. This way, birds passing by can see your bird feeder from high above, and they would most likely make a stop.
However, this might make your bird feeder more vulnerable to outside elements. So, make sure that you always pay attention to weather conditions. If you notice a storm brewing, shelter your bird feeders or put them inside your home for a while.
Another way to make your bird feeder visible is by making sure it’s surrounded by trees where birds would likely take shelter. This way, every time birds visit to seek shelter or search for food, they would notice the bird feeder immediately.
In deciding whether to put your bird feeder out in the open or at the safety of the shade, you might want to think about what birds you wish to attract.
If you’re trying to attract hummingbirds, placing your bird feeder in an open area would probably be the best.
9. Personal Space
Birds can be territorial species, especially if it’s the breeding season. So, make sure that you provide sufficient space between feeders, creating that gap to prevent any aggression from different bird species.
This helps keep a good harmony between each bird.
But what if you have limited space?
Then, you might need to make some adjustments.
You can start by buying a tube feeder, which is smaller than other feeder types and holds smaller quantities of food.
You can also buy a mounting pole where you can hang several bird feeders. It saves you space, even if you have multiple bird feeders. You can also customize this so you can create a certain distance between each pole.
If there are few trees around you and at a good distance between each other, you can hang your bird feeders there, too.
Don’t place the same kind of bird seeds in every bird feeder you have. Make sure to create some variations depending on the type of bird you want to attract. This way, when there are birds in one feeder, other bird species can fly to another feeder to eat. This creates less competition, too.
10. Chemicals and Poison
Just like with window collisions, bird populations have also significantly decreased due to chemical poisoning. So, if you’re spraying insecticides or pesticides in your garden, keep your bird feeders away from there.
As a matter of fact, it’s probably better if you stop using any type of chemicals to get rid of insects. After all, most birds are omnivores and would appreciate it if you keep your yard insect-friendly.
Once birds know your yard has many insects, they’ll take care of all your insect problems for you.
Besides insecticides and pesticides, you should stop using toxic food and poison to get rid of animals that might raid bird feeders like foxes and squirrels.
It’s inhumane and cruel. But on top of that, if you have pets, there’s a high chance that they’ll become a victim, too, and so are the birds.
Things You Should Keep In Mind As A Bird Watcher
As much as considering the birds when choosing the best bird feeder location is essential, it’s also necessary that you think about convenience on your part as a bird feeder and bird watcher. That’s why I’m also sharing three things you should always keep in mind when finding a good location for your bird feeder:
As a bird watcher, you should make sure that you have a clear view from your home window to the bird feeder. Because if you don’t, what’s the use of putting all that effort in the first place?
I recommend putting your bird feeders in an area that’s bright and sunny, especially during the breeding season. If you’re worried about spoilage, you can still put it somewhere with shade, like being surrounded by trees but with a bit of access to the sunlight.
When you’re a bird watcher, there’s a high chance that you’d want to take pictures, too. And if birds visit you during the summer season, placing your bird feeders in an open and sunny area will help you easily see the bird’s bright plumages and even easily identify them.
You also don’t have to worry about strong winds or rains that might knock out your bird feeders since it’s summer.
Another importance of making sure that you have a clear and unobstructed view of the bird feeder is that you get to make sure that the birds are the ones eating your bird seeds. You can watch the bird feeders closely and see if there are problems like squirrels being able to jump on them.
And if you just want to relax and watch birds, you can easily do that while sitting in the comforts of your home.
Although it’s recommended to place your bird feeder high up on the ground, you don’t have to hang it too high.
If you have to get a ladder, a step stool, or a stick to get your bird feeder, then you might have placed it too high. Again, more than 5 feet off the ground is already a good distance to prevent squirrels from jumping to it.
Remember, you will need to keep on refilling your bird feeders. And though these extra steps may not feel like a lot, for now, it will be as days pass by.
So, position feeders at a distance where it’s convenient for you to refill. This way, you won’t feel like it’s a lot of work, and you get to feed the birds frequently.
Another benefit of continuously refilling your bird feeder is you get to see the condition of the feeder and the bird seeds. You will immediately notice if there are any cracks if bird seeds are getting moldy, and more.
Frequent refilling can also lead to regular cleaning, which lessens the potential of birds getting sick.
Related article: How To Store Bird Seed
Once you decide you want bird feeders in your backyard, you already need to expect the mess – discarded seeds, molted feathers, droppings, etc. And this mess can attract animals that you might not want in your yard.
So, expect that you would need to do a lot of cleaning to keep the bird feeding area mess-free and clean.
If you don’t want to clean too much, here are several ways where you can minimize the mess under the bird feeders:
- Change The Type of Bird Seed You Use
You can change the bird seeds to something that is mess-free. You can actually buy a no-mess blend bird seed mix on the market. The only problem is, it can be more expensive than regular bird seeds. But the good thing about it is that hulls have already been removed, and there are no fillers that can create a mess.
Related article: What Exactly Do Wild Birds Like To Eat?
- Seed Tray Can Come In Handy
If you don’t want to buy more expensive birdseed, you can buy a seed tray instead. This is usually placed on the pole, just right under your bird feeder.
The purpose of the tray is to catch seeds and hulls that fall off the bird feeder before they hit the ground. If seeds fall into it, they don’t immediately go to waste as birds can access them.
Squirrels, on the other hand, won’t. This seed tray can even act as an effective baffle to prevent squirrels from climbing up your bird feeder pole.
The seed tray also comes with drainage holes to prevent water from clogging in. And since it’s only attached to the bird pole with a clamp, it’s easy for you to remove it and throw out any seed hulls it caught within the day.
- Grow Plants
Growing some plants near or under your bird feeders is a great way to hide the mess from seeds, hulls, and droppings.
But of course, you might need to do some experiments as to what plants can handle the allelopathic properties of other seeds. You can experiment on different flowers, vines, and even seed-bearing plants.
These can become great sources of food for birds, too.
To start growing the plants, make sure to clean up space under the bird feeders first. This will help mold and growth of other disease-carrying organisms. After that, replace the ground with a good soil mix.
- Pour Concrete
You can create a little patio under the feeder so that it’s easier for you to clean up anything that will fall.
Start by creating a circle or a square on the ground where you can pour the wet concrete mix. After that, decorate it with stones or pebbles to make it look nicer and boost your yard’s aesthetics.
You can then grow some plants around that space or place your potted plants near them.
If you need more details, you can create a footpath that matches that space.
- Install Pavers
If you don’t want to pour concrete, you can install pavers instead.
Create a circle under the bird feeder and dig that ground at 3-4 inches deep. After that, replace the dirt with paving sand and then add some stones. Keep them leveled, so you don’t trip when you’re refilling your bird feeder.
You can then pour some organic soil in between the stones to plant some moss to bring up any green. And finally, water the pavers regularly.
So, how does this help?
Well, it definitely makes cleaning up the area easier with the help of a broom or leaf vacuum.
- Leave It Bare
Lastly, you can just leave the area bare. Don’t do anything about the place. Instead, just make sure that you are regularly raking up or vacuuming the area. On top of that, it’s easier for ground-feeding birds to access any seeds that fell on the ground on that day.
How To Hang Bird Feeders
Figuring out where you want to hang your bird feeder is the easy part. The hanging part can be a bit difficult.
You see, it’s very important that you hang bird feeders safely and securely. You must make sure that it will not fall, especially once birds land on it. Although this may not be particularly dangerous, the part where you’d have to pick up the feeder and hang it up again can be quite a hassle.
That’s why I’ve also included here a simple guide on how you can hang a bird feeder. But unlike other guides, I will share with you how you can hang a bird feeder in three ways:
- High in a tree
- Between two trees
- Without a tree
So, whether you want to do just one or all four, it’s up to you!
High In A Tree
Trees are probably the most obvious location to hang a bird feeder. If there’s a lot of trees around your yard, finding a suitable place where there’s a good shade, enough cover, and a clear view should be no problem.
However, hanging your bird feeders on trees would also make it more vulnerable to squirrels. Fortunately, this can be easily solved by installing a baffle on top of your bird feeder.
Now, let’s tackle how you can hang a bird feeder high in a tree…
First, you would need the following materials:
- S-hook or loop
- Long rope, chain, or bungee cord
- Squirrel guard or baffle
- Squirrel feeder
After that, try to find a good branch where you will hang your bird feeder. You need to make sure that it’s sturdy and just at the right height.
Once you’ve picked a spot, secure a line to the tree using a long, thick rope. You can also use a bungee cord or a chain, depending on what you feel is best.
After you’ve secured a line, grab your squirrel guard and hook it on the cord. After that, attach an S-hook at the end. This will make it easier for you to attach your bird feeder.
And you’re done!
Some bird watchers attach a pulley system to make it easier to adjust the height. But if you don’t want that extra hassle, just make sure you’ve measured the cord beforehand.
Between Two Trees
Now, if you don’t want the trouble of having squirrels trying to climb on your bird feeders, you can hang your bird feeder between two trees. It’s a lot more complicated than simply hanging a bird feeder on a branch, but it’s worth the effort.
You would only need a few things:
- Wire rope cable
- Eye screws
- Quick Link
- Thimble and Wire Rope Clip Set
And you can easily buy these in any hardware store!
The idea here is to hang a rope cable between two trees. However, since I don’t recommend tying anything to your tree, you would need to drill a hole into each tree.
After that, grab your eye screws and secure them into the tree and then attach your wire rope cable. Simply measure the distance between two trees and add 12-24 inches to the length, and that should be the length of your wire rope cable cut.
Once your wire rope cable is secured by the thimble and wire rope clip set, grab the quick links that you would use for the bird feeders.
Spread these quick links onto the wire rope cable and hold them in place using the wire rope clip. Create a certain distance in between feeders to provide some personal space for the birds.
Attach the bird feeders, and you’re done!
This is a really good way to hang bird feeders, especially if you don’t have big spaces or many trees around.
Without A Tree
Although hanging a bird feeder on a tree is one of the most common ways to do it, you can also hang a bird feeder without using a tree.
And one of the best ways to do this is by installing a bird feeder pole.
Now, this is probably the easiest out of the three ways to hang a bird feeder. Simply because a bird feeder pole is readily bought in the market, all you have to do is install it on your yard, hang your feeders, and you’re done!
But of course, choosing a suitable bird feeder pole can be quite challenging, too. You also need to consider the following qualities of the pole:
- Sturdiness and Durability
- Ease of installation
If you’re planning to bird watch for years, it’s only fitting to buy a bird feeder pole that will last with you for years. You want to ensure that it stays standing against any weather condition. You also should think about:
- What materials the pole is made of
- What is the weight capacity of the pole
- How many bird feeders it can hold
- How thick it is
These are all necessary, especially as they will help you decide how many bird feeder poles you might need in your yard.
Lastly, consider aesthetics, too. As I mentioned above, this is a big investment that should last for years, and you would definitely want a good-looking pole.
Protecting Your Bird Feeder Pole From Squirrels
Squirrels are probably one of the most common invaders of bird feeders, and just like with trees, they can easily climb bird feeder poles as well.
That’s why if you’re using bird feeder poles to hang your bird feeders, it’s also crucial that you go the extra mile to squirrel-proof your feeder.
Here are some easy ways to do that:
- Attach a squirrel baffle
Just like hanging a bird feeder in a tree, a squirrel baffle is also very helpful in a bird feeder pole. However, this time, instead of putting it on top of the feeder, you’ll be placing it below the bird feeder.
The baffle will serve as the barrier between the squirrel and the bird feeder. This way, when a squirrel tries to go up the pole, he’ll hit his head on the baffle, forcing him to climb down.
- Use a slinky
If you have a slinky lying around, it’s going to be very helpful. As you can probably observe, a slinky looks like a spring that, even when stretched, will always get back to its normal height. By attaching a slinky on your pole, squirrels are guaranteed to stay on the ground.
- Remember the 5-7-9 Rule
I’ve mentioned the 5-7-9 rule above, and I’m going to mention it here again.
As you know, bird feeder poles come in several heights. So, make sure that the height you’re choosing is not lower than 5 feet. This way, squirrels won’t find it easy to jump on your feeder from the ground.
- Use natural repellents
Keep squirrels away by using the smell of natural repellents. You can create a spray using white pepper, black pepper, garlic, or peppermint and spray that on the ground under the bird feeder to deter squirrels away.
Other than squirrel-proofing your bird feeder poles, you can also squirrel-proof the bird feeder itself. You can place bird feeders on a cage or buy one that is already squirrel-proof.
Another squirrel-proofing idea is to spice up the bird seeds. Birds can still happily eat spicy bird seeds but unfortunately for squirrels, they wouldn’t be able to handle the heat.
Bird Feeder Placement by Season
As season changes, different weather conditions are experienced, and the birds’ needs also change. That’s why this may affect the safety and suitability of a bird feeder location.
Below, I will share some recommendations on how you can hang your feeders when it’s the spring, summer, fall, and winter seasons.
Bird Feeder Placement in Spring
Let’s start with Spring.
Spring is the season that comes after winter and before summer. It’s a season where you can expect the arrival of many birds in the area as they prepare for the breeding season.
If you’ve hung any bird feeders for winter, you would need to take them down to prepare for Spring. This way, you get to ensure the safety of the new birds arriving from migration. You also need to make sure that feeders are completely dried before refilling.
As for placement, you need to consider two things:
If spring is usually a rainy season in your area, this is the perfect time to ensure that your bird feeders have shade or under a built-in shelter. Again, if a powerful storm is brewing, it’s probably best to just put down the bird feeders for a while.
Once you decide to hang up the bird feeders, make sure to place them in an area that offers birds shelter.
As winter just ended, you can expect that many other animals are in search of something to eat, too. And bird feeders and birds will be the usual target.
Keep these two things in mind to ensure that you keep both the bird feeders and the birds protected.
Bird Feeder Placement in Summer
Summer is the breeding season for birds. It’s also the time of the year when food is everywhere so hanging bird feeders may not be necessary.
However, if you want to continue feeding birds, this will be the perfect time to hang bird feeders out in the open, where birds can easily see them. There’s a very low chance of rain, and a lot of birds are surely flying around in search of food.
Just make sure that there are trees nearby so birds can easily take cover when needed.
Bird Feeder Placement in Fall
Fall is the season before winter. It’s the best time to feed birds as it’s mostly the time when they prepare to leave for migration. At the same time, you can expect birds arriving to spend winter in your area.
For this season, transfer your bird feeders to someplace where there’s shade. This way, you don’t have to worry about them so much once the snow starts falling.
Bird Feeder Placement in Winter
The winter season is when food is scarce. It’s the season when birds rely so much on bird feeders, so don’t take them down.
In these months, provide food that will give the birds energy, so they stay warm in winter. It’s the season where suet may be most popular, so be sure to hang some suet feeders.
Ensure that the bird feeders are under some shelter, too, so the birds don’t get affected by too much snow. At the same time, keep them near a birdbath.
Finding The Most Suitable Bird Feeder
Before you can even start deciding where to place your bird feeders, one significant factor that may influence this is the type of bird feeder you use. And there are several factors you need to consider:
- Durability: If you think about bird feeding as more than just a hobby, you should not settle for a cheap bird feeder. Check out the materials first and make sure that it’s of good quality, durable, and can last you for years. This way, you won’t be wasting any money on something that may only last for months.
- Will it keep seeds dry: Wet seeds will spoil a lot faster than dried ones. It’s not of really good quality, and birds can’t get enough nutrition from them.
This is why your bird feeder must ensure that seeds are kept dry. There must be enough protection on it that prevents water from coming in and must have good drainage for water to come out.
- Ease of cleaning: Bird feeders need to be maintained, and the first step for maintenance is cleaning. This ensures that birds will only eat nothing but clean food. And this process shouldn’t be a hassle for you.
- Food capacity: Try to record how many birds visit your backyard and what kind. This will help you determine what size of bird feeder you should buy.
For example, you plan to buy a hummingbird feeder, but there are only 2-3 hummingbirds that come to your place simultaneously. Do you really think it’s worth buying a bigger one?
Bigger bird feeders do also offer convenience as you don’t have to refill them often. It’s also pretty useful for when you have to leave for a few weeks and want to keep on feeding the birds.
However, if you want to have bigger feeders, make sure that they have the protection they need against outside elements that may damage the seeds.
- The number of birds it can hold: Again, this would depend on the number of birds that visit your backyard. You can buy a bird feeder that can hold several birds at the same time, but it’s still highly recommended to keep the number small. This way, there won’t be harsh competition.
You can also buy several bird feeders and spread them around so that birds will always have the space they need.
- What bird species will use it: Make a list of birds that visit your backyard and buy the most suitable bird feeder for them. Some birds already have a dedicated feeder built for them, like the hummingbird feeder.
- Type of Food: Apart from the bird species, the type of food will also influence you in choosing the right bird feeder. There are feeders made for seeds, suet, nectar, and so on.
There are several types of feeders, and if you think you need to buy each of these to feed the different kinds of birds that visit your backyard, that’s completely okay.
Doing so can actually prevent competition between birds and congestion in feeders. It also gives birds various options, so they don’t have to stick to just one kind of food.
Now, let’s check out the different types of bird feeders you can choose from…
Types of Bird Feeders
1. House or Hopper Feeder
A hopper bird feeder is a kind of bird feeder shaped like a house, which is why it’s also called a house feeder.
It features three things:
- A box container where you place the seeds
- A roof to protect seeds from elements
- A platform or hopper where birds can land on to eat.
There’s a small opening at the bottom of the box that brings food to the platform. And food will continue to fall as birds eat.
Since there’s a roof, this feeder is actually the safest and gives food the best protection against outside elements. However, once seeds get wet, it’s also easier for them to get moldy as these feeders don’t really come with drainage.
2. Tube Feeder
Tube feeders, as the name implies, are bird feeders shaped like a tube. It’s very simple and straightforward to use. Just simply pour food on the hollow area inside the tube.
This bird feeder comes in many variations and usually comes with several holes and perches. If you’re looking to attract small birds, then it’s recommended to buy a tube feeder with smaller perches or feeding ports.
This type of bird feeder is most popular among finches.
3. Tray or Platform Feeder
Next on our list is the platform feeder, also referred to as tray or ground feeders.
As the name implies, this type of feeder is mainly flat and open. Most of the time, seeds don’t have any covering against rain and other outdoor elements.
It’s very popular among birds, as it can accommodate any bird size and any type of food. It can be placed on the ground or hang above ground, depending on what birds you want to feed.
When buying a platform feeder, it’s recommended to find one with a drainage system, so water doesn’t clog. If possible, install a roof or any protection against possible sun, rain, and snow damage.
You might also need to add extra protection against squirrels, deer, raccoons, and other animals that might try to invade the feeder.
4. Suet Feeder
As the name implies, suet feeders are mainly made to hold suet cakes. Suet feeders mainly look like metal cages that hold the suet in place.
Some people would probably offer an alternative, where you use an onion bag. However, I find this more dangerous for birds as their legs might get tangled in the bags. So, buying this dedicated feeder is a great way to serve them this food.
5. Hummingbird or Nectar Feeder
A nectar feeder is a bird feeder dedicated to holding nectar. Since hummingbirds are one of the most popular birds that drink nectar, the bird feeder is also sometimes called a hummingbird feeder.
These feeders usually come in the color red to attract hummingbirds. Openings are also shaped like flowers to really mimic the feeling of drinking nectar from a plant.
Nyjer feeders are specially designed to hold nyjer seeds. As these seeds are prone to spoilage, they must be distributed well. The feeders typically look like small tube feeders with very small openings so that only small-beaked birds can access the tube.
Attracting Birds (When Bird Feeder Placement Is Not Enough)
Let’s say you already hung your bird feeders around your yard. But what if birds don’t come?
Well, it might always take longer for birds to visit bird feeders once it has been placed. But, if you don’t want to depend on just the bird feeder placement, you can add a few more things in your backyard to attract birds.
Here are a few tips I can share:
Add A Bird Bath
Water is essential for birds, not only as a source of drinking but also for bathing.
Birds need bathing to maintain their feathers. It’s the best way they can loosen dirt. Plus, it makes preening easier for them.
Birdbaths are most especially important in winter as this is where preening is most helpful for birds. They need to preen to rearrange their feathers and spread the oil to help their feathers remain waterproof. On top of that, it’s when they trap an insulating layer of air underneath their feathers to keep them warm during the cold weather.
However, setting up a birdbath may not be enough. You also need to make sure that you are setting it up properly to really attract birds.
Here are some things you should remember when setting up a birdbath:
- You need to keep it low: Most natural water sources birds find in forests are low on the ground. So, although a birdbath high on a pedestal looks good, birds may not find it more interesting than the ones placed low on the ground.
- You need to keep it shallow: Keep water in your birdbath not more than 2 inches deep. Remember, birds don’t swim, and they don’t bathe in deep water as well. Water should only be at enough height for them to splash around and clean their feathers.
- You need to make sure it has good footing: If you think your birdbath is too deep, you can add large stones or pebbles to provide support to the birds. This will also make them less vulnerable to water.
If it’s not too deep, you still need to make sure that the birdbath isn’t slippery. So, always test, and if it is, pour some gravel or stones into the birdbath so that birds find it safer and easier to use.
- You need to consider the location: Like bird feeders, birdbaths should also be located in an area where it’s easier for you to see them. After all, watching birds take a bath is enjoyable to look at, too.
At the same time, you also need to make sure that the birdbath is easily removable for cleaning and refilling.
- You need to ensure there’s cover nearby: It’s good to keep birdbaths in a location where you can easily see them. However, you also need to make sure that there are trees around for birds to take cover or hide in case they feel threatened.
However, it’s important not to place the birdbath very near the cover area. If you do, predators may use this as a hiding place instead.
A good distance would be at least 5-10 feet distance between the birdbath and the nearest cover.
- You need to keep it on a shady part: if it’s summer, one purpose of having a birdbath is to make sure that birds stay cool throughout the season. That’s why it’s important to place your birdbath under the shade to keep the temperature down.
On top of that, the sun causes water to evaporate faster, which means you’d need to refill birdbaths more frequently.
- You need to keep it clean: If you’re going to have a birdbath, you need to expect a lot of mess to accumulate in the water – leaves, insects, feathers, sticks, and even poop.
You should be ready to clean your birdbath a few times a week by removing the water, scrubbing the basin clean, and refilling it again.
- You need to keep it open year-round: Well, this can be optional, but do know that water is essential for birds, especially in winter. If you’re worried about water freezing, you can buy a heated bird bath instead. Or you can just buy a temperature-controlled heater to keep water from freezing.
- You need to keep the water moving: Stagnant water can be very dangerous, even for us humans, as this can be a breeding place for mosquitoes. So, make sure to keep the water moving in your birdbath.
This will not only make the birdbath safer, but it’s also more attractive to birds. Another factor that makes moving water more appealing is its sound.
- You need to provide a perch or staging: Provide birds a perch just beside the birdbath. This will provide your bird a good landing place without the risk of slipping. It’s also a good way for birds to scan the area first before enjoying their bath. Thus, improving safety.
And that’s it!
If you can meet all the conditions above, birds will surely be swooping in to eat and bathe in your backyard.
Related article: Top 10 Reasons Why Birds Are Not Using Your Bird Bath
Use Bright Colors
Apart from adding birdbaths, you can also use bright colors to attract birds.
Colors can be very important to birds as it gives them certain clues about the environment. For example:
- A bright-colored bird indicates maturity and excellent health.
- Bright colored fruit is ripe and good to eat
- Bright flowers have more nectar and attract more insects
And because birds love bright colors, spreading some brightness across your backyard will be very effective.
How can you do this?
Let’s start by figuring out what colors would attract different types of birds:
- Red and Pink: The red and pink colors attract hummingbirds, especially the Ruby-throated hummingbird.
- Blue: The color blue would be best in your yard if you plan to attract the Eastern bluebird and Blue jay.
- Orange: A spread of orange across your yard would definitely attract orioles, especially the Baltimore Oriole. It can also help attract some hummingbirds, too.
- Yellow: The color yellow would help attract more American goldfinch, Yellow-rumped warbler, and other hummingbirds.
But other than these bright colors, birds can also be attracted with neutral and earthy tones like gray, black, brown, and green. These tones will help make your yard look safe, as they can easily hide under these colors.
In other words, bright colors attract birds by indicating that there’s food, while neutral and earthy colors will help attract birds by indicating that your yard is safe.
Natural Ways To Add Color In Your Yard
Well, one of the natural ways you can do this is by working on your landscape. You can start by planting bright colored flowers, trees, shrubs, grasses, and vines. Provide a mix of nectar-producing flowers, fruit-bearing plants, and seed-bearing plants.
Of course, don’t forget about the colors. For example, you can plant sunflowers to attract the goldfinches or some royal catchfly to attract the hummingbirds.
You should also consider the color changes plants make throughout the year. As much as possible, go with plants that produce natural colors all year round.
Artificial Ways To Add Color In Your Yard
Aside from planting trees, flowers, and other plants, you can also add artificial bright colors in your backyard.
You can hang a colored mosaic ball near your bird feeder or birdbath. This way, birds will easily notice that you’re offering food and water.
There are many colorful bird feeders you’ll find in the market, and nectar feeders are a great example of this. If you have already bought a bird feeder and don’t want it to go to waste, you can decorate it with artificial flowers and colored ribbons.
Another great idea is to paint other objects around your yard with bright colors. If you have potted plants, paint the pots. You can also paint the perches, benches, and other areas in your yard that will provide great aesthetics.
You can also place some decorative accent stones, statues, and other colorful decorations.
You can also paint your fences or sheds with bright colors. If you’re going to do this, make sure that you’ll only be using non-toxic paints for the birds’ and other animals’ safety. And though this may be a good idea, if you think it won’t match up with the whole aesthetics of your yard, you can just proceed with the other ideas above.
Of course, although we know how birds are attracted to bright colors, don’t overdo it. You also want to make sure that your yard still looks good for you.
It doesn’t really need a lot of colors to attract birds. The only important thing to remember is that the bright colors you install should be visible from the sky.
The next thing you can do is install some bird perches nearby. This will give the birds some space to rest, to preen their feathers, and to observe their surroundings.
Bird perches somehow make birds feel safer because they get to survey the surroundings first before eating or taking a bath. It also provides a safe landing place before they approach any bird feeders, preventing encounters with predators or window collisions.
With trees around, you already have natural bird perches around your yard. But, if you wish to install more that is probably nearer (but not to close) to the feeders, you can also create one using tree limbs.
It’s very simple. You only need very few materials and tools:
- 8-foot long post
- 1-inch diameter tree limbs (16-22 inches long)
- Power drill
- Drill Bit
The first thing you need to do is gather some tree limbs or branches that are 1 inch in diameter. Make sure that they are long, around 16-22 inches in length, and they should be straight as possible.
Once you’ve gathered the branches, make sure you clean them up to remove any loose dirt. You don’t have to remove the bark to keep it natural, but cut one end of the branch so it’s perfectly straight.
After that, prepare your 8-foot long post. Create a 2 feet mark from the bottom of the post, this will indicate the length you’ll bury the post. From that mark, measure another 3 feet and create another mark, this will indicate the length where you’ll start placing the branches for the perches.
Once done, you can start marking one side of the post at every 3 inches from the top down to the second mark you created. Then, you can drill a 1-inch diameter hole in every mark you made.
Note: You need to drill the hole through!
Grab your branches and push them inside the 1-inch diameter holes. You can do this alternately, with one branch on one side of the hole at different levels.
If there are any gaps, grab some wood shims to cover the gaps so that the branches would fit tightly. If there are any protrusions on the other side of the hole, cut them out.
Lastly, it’s time to dig a 2-feet deep hole for your post. Set it up and pour some wet concrete mix to settle it in place. After that, place some braces to help the post stand in place and leave them there for 24 hours.
Go back the next day and remove the braces, and you’re all done! You now have a natural-looking bird perch in your yard.
You can create more if you want, but this bird perch can already hold a few birds at the same time.
It’s also best to note that you shouldn’t place bird perches really close to the bird feeder or birdbaths. The purpose of these perches is to allow the birds to survey your area. So, putting them near bird feeders can only put birds’ lives in danger.
Using The Right Bird Seeds
Having a bird feeder hanging will not be enough to impress birds no matter how nice it looks. You also need the right kind of bird seeds that a lot of birds will actually like.
If you don’t have any idea what to put on your feeders yet, you can start with these four most popular bird seeds:
1. Sunflower Seeds
Sunflower seeds are most birds’ favorite. On top of that, they’re easy to find and don’t cost much. If you’re going for these seeds, you have three types to choose from:
- Black-oil Sunflower Seeds: It’s the most popular type of sunflower seed because they’re smaller, thinner, and easy to open.
- Striped Sunflower: These are larger than black-oil sunflower seeds and can be consumed by humans. And because it’s larger, it also has thicker and stronger shells that not all birds can open.
- Hulled Sunflower Seed: As the name implies, these are sunflower seeds with shells already removed, making it easier for birds to eat. Almost every bird plus bird watchers love these seeds. It’s a lot more expensive, but because it’s been hulled, it doesn’t make a mess under the feeders. Plus, more bird species can eat the seeds.
2. Safflower Seeds
Next on our list are safflower seeds. These seeds are smaller than black-oil sunflower seeds but come with a tougher shell.
It’s a great seed to add to your bird feeder if you want to attract Northern cardinal, Evening grosbeak, Carolina chickadee, and House finch.
What makes safflower seeds even a better choice is the fact that backyard pests, like squirrels, don’t like them.
Related article: How Long Does It Take For Birds To Find A Bird Feeder?
3. Nyjer Seeds
Nyjer seeds are very small seeds that are perfect for feeding goldfinches. It’s also one of the seeds that squirrels have the least interest in.
The only disadvantage, however, is that nyjer seeds spoil easily. It’s important that it stays fresh always. So, make sure it doesn’t get exposed to a lot of elements and perhaps use a bird feeder that can carefully distribute the seeds out.
4. White Proso Millet
If you’re looking to feed birds with millet seeds, the white proso would be your best choice. They are small, round seeds and are really good at attracting American tree sparrow, Dark-eyed junco, and Mourning dove.
These seeds are most usually included in birdseed mixes. If you happen to buy a birdseed mix containing white proso, it’s best to place them in a hopper or platform feeder. This way, it’s easier for birds to distinguish them from the rest, and birds that don’t like white proso can discard the seed easily.
Related article: What Is Suet And Why Wild Birds Love It
Other Food You Can Serve
Aside from bird seeds, you can also add variations of food. Among the popular ones are:
- Peanuts: These provide healthy amounts of fats and protein that birds will surely appreciate during winter. You can offer peanuts in two ways – in a shell or shelled.
Naturally, if you aim to attract larger birds, peanuts in a shell would be a good choice. But if you’re looking to feed more birds, it’s best to opt for shelled peanuts.
You can also serve peanuts by adding them to a birdseed mix or suet.
- Mealworms: Omnivore birds will highly appreciate mealworms, especially if it’s the winter season. You can also buy two types: live and dried.
Live mealworms would need to be kept refrigerated to last for months. Dried mealworms, on the other hand, can be kept in a storage container in a shed, which is less hassle.
However, it has been found that birds do prefer live ones. That’s why it’s highly suggested that if it’s your first time serving mealworms, mix dried and live to get the birds used to eating dried mealworms.
- Corn: Corn can be offered as a whole kernel or cracked. Again, if you’re looking to feed more bird species, smaller versions are always preferred, and that is the cracked corn.
However, although cracked corn can be popular for most birds, they are an absolute favorite of house sparrows. So, if you don’t want to attract these birds, it’s best to go with the whole kernel or other food instead.
You can also place cracked corn in a dedicated feeder and place that feeder farther away from other bird feeders to keep house sparrows away.
- Suet: Suet or hard fat is an excellent source of energy for birds. It’s especially beneficial to serve them in winter, as it’s the time when birds need it the most. Fortunately, you don’t have to buy pure, raw suet from a butcher, because prepackaged blends are now sold, which also includes other types of bird food.
- Sugar Water (Nectar): If you’re looking to attract hummingbirds and orioles, sugar water is the way to go. It can be easily made at home by mixing 1 part table sugar in 4 parts water.
- Fruit: Lastly, you can also serve fruit – dried, fresh, or jelly. It’s the healthiest snack you can offer to birds, and it’s the best way to attract birds that don’t regularly visit your yard.
Remember: Check seed levels regularly
Let’s say you’ve picked the most delicious bird seed or food to offer the birds. But other than that, you also need to make sure that there is still food left for birds to eat.
You must check birdseed levels regularly to ensure that there’s enough food to meet the bird’s nutritional needs.
Checking the seeds regularly will also help you keep a close eye on the health of your bird feeder stations. You would know if there are molds, cracks, and other potential problems that may affect the quality of feeding you provide for the birds.
The better service they get from your feeders always, the more frequently they will surely visit.
Want To Do A Fun Project With The Kids? Check Out This Article On How To Make Bird Seed Ornaments
Why should you hang bird feeders?
Hanging bird feeders is fast and easy. It’s also one of the safest ways to install bird feeders in your yard because it’s high up the ground. It’s also easier for birds to escape and take cover on the trees surrounding them once they sense a predator coming.
Is bird feeder location important?
Bird feeder placement is very important as it plays a significant role in attracting birds. For example, placing bird feeders in a noisy location reduces your chance to attract more birds. However, if you put the bird feeder in a quiet area, more birds are sure to flock in.
How long before birds visit their bird feeders?
There’s no specific amount of time to determine how long birds will flock after you’ve hung a bird feeder. However, it’s good to remember the “Rule of 2s”.
Rule of 2s generally says that birds might come in 2 seconds, 2 minutes, 2 hours, 2 days, or even weeks and months. In other words, you don’t really know.
If it’s been taking weeks and no birds are coming, then there might be something wrong with your bird feeder placement. Try transferring the feeders to another location and see if anything changes.
But all in all, it’s important that you wait and just be patient. Transferring bird feeders after just 2 hours without seeing birds flocking in is not a very effective way to test and see if you’ve placed the bird feeder in the right place.
Should you feed birds all year round?
You only really have to feed birds in times when food sources are low. Usually, this is during winter, harsh weather changes, and migration. When it’s the breeding season, birds can actually find food sources easily.
However, if you wish to feed birds all year round, that’s not a problem at all.
Can you hang a bird feeder outside a window?
Technically, you can, but I don’t recommend it.
There are suction feeders available on the market that allows you to hang bird feeders right outside your windows. The purpose is so you can get a really clear view of birds eating.
However, due to the number of deaths caused by window collisions, this can be dangerous. It’s been said that you can hang bird feeders less than 3 feet away from a window and more than 10 feet.
Because of this, most people think that putting a bird feeder directly on the window is safe. But if you think about it, this can still pose a significant risk as birds that would fly in the direction of the window feeder can still collide with the window.
How close should bird feeders be to each other?
Some birds can be a lot territorial from others, especially if it’s the breeding season. To prevent too much competition, you should provide around 3-4 feet of space between bird feeders.
Will birds’ feet stick on metal poles during winter?
Fortunately, birds don’t have sweat glands in their feet like us. So, there’s no need to worry about using metal bird feeder poles even in winter.
Can you feed birds human food?
No. To guarantee the birds’ safety, it’s better to feed birds bird food. Some food can be very toxic to them, including:
- Fruit pits and apple seeds
Never feed birds table scraps to ensure that they get the best nutrition.
How high up should bird feeders be?
The standard height for bird feeders should be about 5 feet above the ground.
However, we do know that birds feed at different heights, so if you’re installing bird feeders, try to provide some height variations, too. You can set up ground feeders, hang bird feeders about 5 feet, or mount them on trees at 10 feet above the ground.
Should you put bird feeders under the sun or under the shade?
It can be a mix of both.
You want to place your bird feeder in a little bit of an open area so that it’s easier for birds to find them. However, you also want it to be under a little bit of shade to give it protection against outdoor elements.
Final Thoughts on Bird Feeder Placement
The importance of choosing the best area to hang a bird feeder is undeniable, mainly because it directly influences whether you can attract birds. Although it seems complicated, you don’t have to overthink this.
Just simply remember the following:
- Birds must remain safe from predators and outside elements
- Bird feeders and seeds must be protected from outdoor elements
- You should have a clear view from your home window
- It should be convenient for you to clean and refill
Of course, on top of the location, the type of bird feeder and bird seeds also influence whether the birds will come to your feeder or not. It’s also important that you maintain your surroundings to give birds the impression that it’s safe for them to be there.
Lastly, be patient.
Bird feeding takes effort and time. But once birds find your place and they’re satisfied, they’ll surely keep on coming back.