How can I help birds discover my new bird feeder?
July 6, 2011 10:35 AM   Subscribe

How can I get birds to 'discover' the new bird feeder?

I see them flying around, chirping, having a ball in the general vicinity- but they haven't figured out that there's a bonanza of seed nearby. What do I need to do to accelerate the process?
posted by BuddhaInABucket to Home & Garden (9 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Right. And make sure you have the good stuff that they like, such as black oil sunflower seeds.
posted by Melismata at 11:02 AM on July 6, 2011

Try sprinkling seed around the ground just below the feeder. Right now, though, there's ample food for them all around, so just be patient. In time, the little winged pigs will find your feeder.
posted by Thorzdad at 11:12 AM on July 6, 2011

Best answer: Since it's summer and there are a lot of insects, most birds will spend more time hunting insects as opposed to eating seed (insects are nice and juicy and have a lot of protein). Do you want them to go to the bird feeder because you want them to not be hungry or because you want them to amuse you? If you want them to not be hungry, wait around until fall and they'll be all over your feeder. If you want them to amuse you, you can get insectivore bird feeders (don't know how well these work) or try upping the quality of your bird seed.
posted by anaelith at 11:14 AM on July 6, 2011

Best answer: Yes, this will, in general, take about a week. It also makes sense to use the right seed for the birds you're looking to attract. You're in the US, so black sunflower seeds is the way to go (birdseed from mixes usually includes a lot of useless filler). Also, be aware that different birds prefer different sorts of feeders. Tube feeders will work best for sparrows and finches, while larger birds tend to go for the bigger house-shaped feeders. Also, some birds (cardinals, for example) prefer platform feeders. Another consideration is height. Finally, try to have a water supply around. Birds can generally feed themselves, but if you have water, they will really start to hang around.
posted by Gilbert at 11:18 AM on July 6, 2011 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks! I've only had it up for a day so far- I knew it took time, but I'm very anxious for some birds to show up! I'll make sure that mix I get in the future includes the sunflower seeds, and add a birdbath as well.
posted by BuddhaInABucket at 11:47 AM on July 6, 2011

Hulled sunflower seed seems to attract the broadest array of birdie "customers" to my feeders, and it has the plus of not leaving hulls to clean up. My local Wild Birds Unlimited store sells a "No Mess Blend" of millet, safflower and hulled sunflower.

Some of the smaller birds like chickadees prefer sunflower seeds that they don't have to hull. Also, what several commentators pointed out - cheap seed usually is heavy on the filler (sorghum or "milo" which most birds won't eat). Get a good high-quality blend with hulled sunflower in it or just get the hulled sunflower.

I've found that birds usually take a week or so to discover that yes, this is a birdie buffet. Then you won't be able to keep them away (if you get the good seed).
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 12:58 PM on July 6, 2011

On the upping the quality front, I've found that using a mix that contains bits of dried fruit, usually cherries, is a powerful attractor. I don't think birds have much of a sense of smell, but the fruit-containing mixes do have quite a (good) odor.
posted by rtimmel at 1:14 PM on July 6, 2011

The birds either completely ignored my mixed seed or picked all the black oil sunflower seeds out of it and then ignored what was left. I took the hint and switched to pure black oil sunflower seeds and my feeder has been party time ever since. I also have a hanging suet block nearby. I get a better variety of birds that way, and it gives them two places to eat.
posted by griselda at 5:52 PM on July 6, 2011 [1 favorite]

Yes, griselda, I nailed a suet feeder to a tree and quickly started seeing woodpeckers on a regular basis. And before I forget, let's go ahead and mention that it's hummingbird season, and those little guys will come around a dozen times a day, given the right inducement.
posted by Gilbert at 9:17 PM on July 6, 2011

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