Monday, March 26, 2012

How to Attract Birds to Your Bird Feeder

People have been interested in feeding wild birds in America since the mid 1800s. In the early 1900s, the first hummingbird feeder was manufactured on a commercial basis. Today, feeding the birds is an exciting hobby that over 60 million Americans are enjoying everyday. One of the first questions that eager bird watchers ask when they get their first feeder is, 'How do I attract the most birds to my bird feeders?'
Tip #1: Be consistent. 
Try to follow a routine by keeping feeders filled with the seed or suet that is the favorite of the birds you wish to attract. Birds will return to the same feeders if they're rewarded with food every time.

Tip #2: Use the appropriate bird feeder. 
Since birds are attracted to different types of bird feeder designs, you can increase your odds by matching the species with the bird feeder design specifically made for it. Choose from the many types of feeders offered below:

Tube Feeder: American Goldfinch, House Finch, Nuthatch, Titmouse 
Platform Feeder: House Finch, Blue Jay, Northern Cardinal, Song Sparrow, Titmouse 
Hopper Feeder: House Finch, Blue Jay, Titmouse, Northern Cardinal 
Suet Feeder: Northern Cardinal, Nuthatch, Titmouse, Warbler, Woodpecker, Wren 
Niger or Thistle seed Tube Feeder: American Goldfinch, House Finch, Purple Finch 
Nectar Feeder: Hummingbird 
Fruit or Jelly Feeder: Eastern Bluebird, House Finch, Oriole, Woodpecker

Tip #3: Where should I hang the bird feeder? 
Place your bird feeder in a spot where the birds can feel protected-somewhere in close proximity to shrubs and trees. Also, they will use foliage, grasses and twigs as nesting materials. Avoid predators by placing bird feeders at least four feet off the ground and away from fences and lower, hanging branches. Some birds, like bluebirds, prefer to have an open view while feeding so they can keep their eyes open for predators.

Tip #4: Include a water source close to the bird feeder. 
Birds are attracted to water for bathing and sipping. Since they are attracted to the sound of water, the light spray of a hose will bring them flitting to this water source. Robins and hummingbirds appreciate the sparkle of water and love to fly through the spray. The moist ground makes it easier for robins to snag a worm or two. Shallow, birdbaths welcome many types of birds who need to remove dust or mites from their feathers.

Tip #5: Include native plants in your garden. 
Native plants will attract specific birds to your backyard. Some birds such as woodpeckers and bluebirds enjoy berries and fruits along with insects, while finches prefer the seeds of native coneflowers or Echinacea.

How long should you wait to see birds at the feeder after you hang it? 
First, have patience. It will take some time for birds to find your feeder and start using it as a source of food. Wait for up to two weeks, then add a few new ideas.

Try sprinkling some of their favorite seed on the ground and around the feeder. This will help them find the bird feeder and realize that there is a food source nearby. Or, the location might not be the best for them. Most birds like to feel secure. Move the bird feeder to a new location that has shrubs or conifers for them to hide and observe from. Keep the bird feeder away from traffic, loud noises and predatory felines. Birds like to remain hidden from predators as they fly to and from the bird feeder.

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