8 Ways to Make Your Backyard Feeders Go Viral Among Birds
Watching birds outside your windows is relaxing and entertaining any time of the year. But once winter arrives, it’s one of the best ways to enjoy wildlife from the warm comfort of your home. So if you want to attract more feathered friends and the greatest diversity of species, try to make your yard as bird-friendly as possible and follow these tips for attracting more traffic to your feeders.
1. Purchase an assortment of desirable food.
A wide variety of food will draw a greater diversity of species, but it’s also true that some seeds are more popular than others. For example, many birds are attracted to black oil sunflower seeds. In contrast, few species are interested in milo, wheat, and oats, often used as fillers in less expensive blends.
Millet and cracked corn are popular options, too. Or, opt for mixtures of peanuts, nuts, and dried fruit to attract woodpeckers, nuthatches, and titmice. Thistle seed (also called nyjer) will appeal to finches, chickadees, sparrows, juncos, and many other species.
2. Use a variety of feeders.
There are many styles of feeders, including tray or platform feeders, hoppers or house feeders, tube feeders, and more. In addition, some feeders are designed for specific types of food, such as tube feeders with tiny openings to dispense thistle seed.
Or, suet feeders are typically small cages made of plastic-coated wire mesh that holds a suet cake—seeds mixed into a block of beef fat. Suet feeders are ideal for cold weather when the fat doesn’t turn rancid and birds need extra nutrition.
By selecting an assortment of feeders and different types of food, you can encourage a dawn-to-dusk display of feathered visitors of various sizes, shapes, and colors.
3. Position feeders at different heights.
Some birds like to stay on the ground to eat, but others are more comfortable eating in shrubs or trees. Mixing platform, hopper, and tube feeders at various levels will attract more birds with different feeding location preferences.
4. Clean feeders periodically.
Over time, bird feeders become dirty, making the food taste and smell less appealing to birds. Worse yet, dirty bird feeders can encourage harmful bacteria to grow. Thoroughly clean your bird feeders in the fall and spring or more often if needed.
5. Keep squirrels out.
Squirrels are also attracted to the easy meals available at bird feeders, and they can quickly consume seeds meant for birds. So add baffles to your feeders and position them in open areas to discourage squirrel access.
6. Offer water, too.
In addition to food, birds need water. But it can be harder for them to source it in the winter. So consider positioning a heating element in a bird bath or other shallow pan of water.
7. Be consistent.
Birds learn where neighborhood feeders are located and will make their rounds, collecting food from various sources. Keep your yard on the birds’ route by refilling your feeders consistently.
Plus, if the temperatures plummet, you’ll want to ensure they can count on you to support them during the worst winter conditions.
8. Store your supplies securely.
Bird food will last longer if stored in a cool, dry location. Ideally, you want to position your supplies near your feeders, so it’s easy to refill them.
But remember that other critters, including chipmunks, mice, and squirrels, will try their best to access any seeds and nuts. Metal storage containers with secure lids will typically deter them.