How Do Birds Find Bird Feeders in Your Backyard?

Birds are fascinating creatures to watch, and feeders can allow you to enjoy birding from your backyard.

What can be more exciting than to see those vividly colored hummingbirds joyfully enjoying the nectar you just filled up for them, a cardinal couple routinely visiting your place together, or those tiny chickadees arguing over who gets to have a bite first?

Placing a feeder will benefit the birds- a pleasing hobby that will make you feel closer to nature and enable you to sneak peek into the diverse life of those colorful, intelligent creatures and a different world you never thought of before.

To get the most out of it, you’ll need to make sure the birds easily find your feeder. It depends on the placement, decorations, environment, as well as their behavioral patterns. Read along to learn more.

Where should a bird feeder be placed for best results?

Birds are not only picky about the food they eat but also about their surroundings. They generally prefer places for feeding that will provide them hideouts if any potential predator approaches, enough open space around to spot threats, low human activity, protection from the weather, and an excellent perching spot.

Consider placing the feeder above ground at an appropriate height and in an open space with trees, shrubs, or other shelter within 10-15 feet.

What attracts birds to a bird feeder?

How Do Birds Find Bird Feeders

Psychologically speaking, birds are naturally drawn to moving objects. Gently flowing water, wind chimes, and swaying decorations can help catch their attention. Surrounding the feeder with bird-friendly plants or flowers can make it more appealing. 

Bird feeders attract different species in their own particular ways: 

  • Woodpeckers are drawn to Suet Feeders.
  • Finches, Warblers, Hummingbirds, and other small birds delight in feeding from feeders that sway gently in the breeze.
  • Ground Feeding Trays are suitable to attract some species of Thrushes, Blackbirds, Robins, and other ground-feeding birds.

How much time do birds need to find a bird feeder?

It may take anywhere between a couple of hours and several months. It’s not something you can always have control over, but you can enhance the likelihood of catching their attention soon if you consider the following things:

  • Feeder Location: The area should be noticeable, accessible, and safe.
  • Proximity from other feeders, which may have positive or negative influences depending on the perspective.
  • Consistent food availability: This will encourage them to associate the feeder with a reliable food source.
  • Time of year: Birds tend to seek food sources more actively during breeding and migration periods.
  • Local bird population: If the bird you are trying to get attention from is already available in your neighborhood in good numbers, you can probably have them visiting your place in a shorter amount of time.
  • Variations in food type: This will attract various species with different feeding preferences.

Do birds tell each other where food is?

Did you know that Clark’s Nutcracker can hide thousands of seeds in storage caches underground, remember the locations, and revisit in winter to eat them? Birds possess incredible memory despite their tiny brains.

How do birds locate feeders? They are continuously seeking food and exploring unfamiliar objects in their territory. Once they discover a feeder, they repeatedly return to check food availability, often multiple times a day.

They might also learn that a fresh supply of food appears whenever people approach the feeder.

Memory and social learning have a significant influence over their feeding behaviors. Birds employ methods like vocalizations, body language, and visual cues to communicate information about food sources. Once you see a bird in your feeder, the individual will likely pass the information to its peers.

Can birds smell bird food?

Pieces of evidence show most birds do not rely on the sense of smell to find food at all. So, how do birds find bird feeders? They are heavily dependent upon vision and sound for it.

In fact, they have excellent vision. Our eyes contain 10,000 photoreceptive ‘cones’ per square millimeter – the cells that allow us to see color light. Songbirds, for example, have up to 120,000 cones per square millimeter!

Are there specific colors or shapes that attract birds to feeders?

How Do Birds Find Bird Feeders

Choosing the right colors can be tricky, as colors can signal various meanings to birds. In nature, colorful markings help to warn birds against toxins or predators, while bright colors in fruits can also showcase ripeness and high nutritional content, and bright flowers can mean that they are filled with nectar.

With all that being said, there is no unanimous agreement. Nevertheless, several studies have highlighted some science-based findings about the role of colors in bird feeders:

  • Blue is the most attractive color to birds in the summer, while silver and green appeal throughout the year.
  • Colors with high-energy wavelengths, such as blue, purple, and green, are preferred. Low energy wavelength colors, including Red and yellow, may act as warnings.

Colour preference may also vary according to species, such as:

  • Green: Goldfinches
  • Red: Siskins
  • Black: Robins  
  • Blue: Starlings

Another good option is to choose colors that blend in with the environment. Dull green, grey, brown, and tan help to make bird feeders less visible to predators. The feeder’s shape should correspond to the targeted species’ feeding habits.

Which types of food are the best to offer birds?

Instead of just using the common bird seeds from the stores, offering a mix of food, such as sunflower seeds, millet, suet, and sugar water- as well as fresh fruits including blueberries, oranges, plums, apples, grapes, currants- can make all the difference.

Make sure the food you select is appropriate for the type of feeder you own.

While picking the right food, there are some things you can consider-

  • Season: Migration pattern or breeding season may impact a bird’s food preferences.
  • Freshness: It adds to the nutritional value as well as to the appeal to birds.
  • Quality: The food must be free from contaminants or harmful preservatives.
  • Hygiene: The food must be clean and stored correctly to prevent mold spoilage and the spread of diseases.

How can we help birds easily locate bird feeders?

Consider scattering some seed on the ground for alluring birds to a new feeder. Ensuring a clear line of sight, decorations that add some movement, and having flowing water sources nearby can also help.

A common question is, do birds remember the location of bird feeders? Birds have excellent memory. If a consistent food supply is available, they will consider the feeder a reliable food source and check back.

Final Words

All the considerations above lead us to one thing: the best way to attract birds is to replicate their natural feeding environment and habits. If you do everything right, it should be a short time before you find your feathered friends dining in your backyard.

FAQs About How Do Birds Find Bird Feeders

How do birds find feeders in the winter?

In winter, food is scarce. Some species also need to refuel for migration. As they habitually explore their small territory, these factors influence their interest in feeders during winter.

Do birds recognize humans who feed them?

Yes. Many birds can recognize and remember human individuals based on multiple factors, including physical appearance, vocalizations, or behavior. 

Do birds eat from feeders at night?

This is unusual unless the surroundings are illuminated by artificial light. The common birds that visit feeders are diurnal and are generally active during the day.