5 Common Birdfeeder Mistakes

What a joy, to look out your kitchen window and see a crowd of songbirds gathered around your feeder, chattering and pecking at seeds!

Whether you’re an avid birdwatcher, or just someone who wants to help out your neighborhood feathered friends, setting up a birdfeeder is an inexpensive and fun way to engage with local wildlife.

The birds will love you for it, especially when you ensure that your tiny visitors stay comfortable, healthy and safe at your feeders. Trouble-shoot your bird-feeding form by steering clear of these common mistakes:

You Forget to Refill Your Feeders

Once you start feeding wild birds, they do come to rely on your efforts, especially in times of scarcity. A feeder that stays empty for weeks at a time can stress and drive away birds, and it may also attract insects like wasps and ants. Try to refill your feeder before the birds empty it completely, so they learn that your feeder is a consistent food source.

You Skip Out on Cleaning Your Feeders

Busy feeders can quickly become clogged with empty hulls, and dirty feeders can even spread diseases among songbirds. The Humane Society recommends cleaning your feeder every other week by following these steps:

  • Immerse your feeder for several minutes in a solution of one part chlorine bleach to nine parts warm water.
  • Scrub your feeder with a stiff-bristled brush.
  • Rinse your feeder with clean water.
  • Dry your feeder completely before refilling.

You Only Feed During the Spring and Summer

The birds may delight you with songs and bright plumage in the summertime, but when it comes to eating, they need your help more during the winter months, when their natural food supplies dwindle. Offer a high-fat seed, like black oil sunflower seeds, and suet, which helps songbirds build up the fat stores they need to survive extreme cold.

Sunflower roasted black seeds

You Offer Non-Preferred Seeds

Bird seed mixes cost less than single-seed feed, but they tend to contain a large percentage of cheap grains, like milo and wheat, that birds don’t like. If you want to attract the greatest variety of small songbirds, try black oil sunflower seeds (pictured above): birds prefer these energy-dense, easy-to-crack seeds. Some birds turn up their beaks at stale seed, so store any surplus in an airtight container in a cool, dry place.

Your Feeder Locations Leave Birds Vulnerable

Songbirds live on high alert for predators, so they may shy away from a feeder placed too close to perceived danger. Avoid hanging your feeder in the middle of an open yard, where birds could fall prey to hawks or cats. Choose a sheltered location with nearby access to trees and bushes, so birds feel secure.

Finally, since an estimated 100 million birds in the U.S. die each year from window collisions, make sure to place your feeders either very close (3 feet or less) or safely distanced (30 feet) from any reflective glass surfaces.

Treat your local birds well, and they will reward you with hours of peaceful enjoyment!

83 comments

Sonia M
Sonia M6 months ago

Good reminders,thanks for sharing.

SEND
Ann B
Ann B6 months ago

location and correct feed/seed is very important also water if possible

SEND
Siyus Copetallus
Siyus C2 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

SEND
Melania Padilla
Melania Padilla2 years ago

Awesome, good advice. Sharing!

SEND
Janet B.
Janet B2 years ago

Thanks

SEND
Jim Ven
Jim V2 years ago

thanks for the article.

SEND
Holly Potthoff
Holly Potthoff2 years ago

Love that top picture of the cat in the bird feeder!

SEND
Ruth S.
Ruth S2 years ago

Thanks.

SEND
Rhonda B.
.2 years ago

I was told by wildlife authorities in Australia not to feed wild seed, sunflower seed, etc., as it contains a lot of oil, so the birds don't get a varied diet. I assume it's like humans having only treats as their staple diet. Too much of a good thing has consequences.

SEND
Alexander Hay-Whitton

Good picture!

SEND