Backyard Bird Feeder Tips

Ever tried to attract birds to your backyard? Maybe you have started with your first bird-feeder and some seed and are still waiting for that first bird to notice your new addition. It takes time, but with a little patience and guidance, your yard will be a hot-spot for the local birds in your area!

Below, you will find some tips on how we have managed to attract over 20 gorgeous species of birds into our modest backyard in the city, and we are just getting started.

We live on a busy street near the center of town, yet our backyard is deep with an open green space with mature trees surrounding it. Our list of birds that frequent our feeding stations continues to grow, with the end goal of turning our yard into our dream personal nature sanctuary. It is possible to capture the attention of local rarities right in your backyard, if you maintain a safe and reliable feeding area.

Finding A Safe Area

It is important to consider the safety of the birds you admire so much. One of the biggest dangers for birds visiting your backyard feeder is striking a window by mistake. Window strike mortalities can be reduced by placing your bird feeder within 3 feet of a window, or more than 30 feet away.  The closer the feeder, the less speed a bird can build up before a window strike.  We have opted for the 30 feet rule, because we can view the feeder at the end of our yard from both our bedroom, and mudroom window. With the feeder being this far away, the birds are less likely to perceive our windows as a flight path to another area.

Birds will need to feel safe before they will visit your feeders on a regular basis.  Protection from strong winds, predators, and food-stealing squirrels are a must for a successful backyard bird experience. Cats are a big danger to birds, and account for a staggering amount of deaths to birds each year. You can help guard your feathered friends from danger by making sure that your feeder is not so close to a fence or rooftop, that a curious feline could easily jump down and attack.  The same precautions can reduce the amount of squirrels leaping onto your feeders and stealing food away from the birds.

Types of Feeders

Our main feeder is a wooden house design with a central food hopper as well as two suet cages. The roof of the house lifts up, allowing you to scoop seed into the hopper and fill it up. The food we like to use for the main hopper is a mix of black-oil sunflower seed, white millet, cut corn, red millet, peanuts, and safflower seeds.

The feeder is placed directly below our Hackberry tree, which is a huge favourite for the birds. The tree was already here when we moved in, we lucked out with that one. The birds will often grab a seed from the feeder, and then return to the tree to open the shell and eat it.

We also have a finch sock hanging from the other side of the shepherds hook. This is the store-bought variety (Canadian Tire or Wal-Mart) that comes pre-filled with Niger seed. We have found that these socks are very effective at attracting the attention of American Goldfinches. During the end of summer, we would often see up to 4 goldfinches on the sock at a time.

We have recently added a wooden woodpecker feeder that can hold 4 suet "plugs". This model is called the Scotts Woodpecker Suet Plug Feeder, and can also be found at Wal-mart. We have seen Downy woodpeckers on the Hackberry, so we are confident that they will soon notice the nearby treat.

The next phase of our nature sanctuary will be to  incorporate a water feature, as well as some bird-friendly landscaping features like shrubs, small trees and a brush-pile.

Birds we have seen in our yard:

Northern cardinal
House sparrow
Red-tailed hawk
Ring-billed gull
Turkey vulture
Barn swallow
American robin
Chipping sparrow
Downy woodpecker
Carolina Wren
Mourning dove
House finch
Coopers hawk
Black-capped chickadee
White breasted nuthatch
Baltimore Oriole
Blue jay
Golden crowned kinglet
Red-winged blackbird
Dark-eyed junco

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