How do birds find bird feeders? 8 Reasons why they abandon yours

Are you struggling with finding out why no birds visited your feeder even though you have set it up perfectly and passionately? Or maybe, after visiting your feeder for a while, the birds ceased doing so. Let’s clarify how do birds find bird feeders and how to make yours “attractive” to them! 

First, let’s find out how do birds find bird feeders

A fun fact is that, almost exclusively, birds use sight to locate food. Birds rely on their excellent senses of sight and hearing to find food sources because they have essentially little sense of smell except for vultures, seabirds, kiwis, and parrots with well-developed olfactory glands. Therefore, a bird will likely stop for a snack if it sees a feeder with a regular food supply. Birds may even learn to identify feeders as food sources and pursue them like we might follow a restaurant for supper. Additionally, sound can direct birds to run water where they can obtain a drink, even if it isn’t always helpful for finding food.

how do birds find bird feeders
Source: Wild Bird Unlimited

8 common reasons why birds do not come to your feeders

If there aren’t any birds at your feeder, one or more of the abovementioned issues are probably to blame. Let’s dissect these common issues. We’ll discuss any problems in your yard that might prevent birds from using your feeders. 

The food itself

Birds may avoid your feeder if there are issues with their bird food. When birds aren’t visiting your feeder, the bird food should be the first thing you revise. The ability of birds to find food in their home area is quite good. They are highly adept at identifying changes in their surroundings, like installing a new feeder. 

Therefore, if birds aren’t visiting your feeder, there may be an issue with the food itself. You should check whether: 

  • Your seed is too old or has gone bad 
  • Your food is scraps from human
  • Unfavorable food for birds
  • Your seed has too much red milo and filler seed
  • Adequate amount of black oil sunflower seed and white proso millet

The feeder itself

Birds may stop visiting your feeder if the feeder consistently runs out of food for several days. It will be fine if you periodically run out of seed once you have a functioning feeder. But if days pass and your feeder is empty, it’s possible that the birds may move on. The birds could go somewhere else and vanish. 

But have you ever remembered you have filled the food but it’s totally gone the moment you come back? Make sure to check for the upcoming squirrels. Squirrels typically consume a lot of the same foods as birds. They can jump 15 feet sideways and are able to scale anything. A solution is providing safflower seeds, nectar, and nyjer seed, you may prevent squirrels from overtaking your bird feeder.  

Moreover, your feeder might lack staging perch. Birds utilize a branch, bush, or post as a staging perch as they approach your feeder. The majority of birds approach a bird feeder with some caution. They make several stops and breaks along the road rather than flying straight to the feeder. So, birds will be more likely to come to your feeders if they notice any signal of a staging perch. 

Source: Wirecutter

Nesting season

Throughout the seasons, birds alter how frequently they visit feeders. In the spring, summer, or fall, they vanish. Therefore, each season will require a different methodology to attract birds. 

  1. Spring: Bird activity is highest in the spring. Fresh orange halves should be displayed on a spike or dead tree limb with the flesh side facing out in the spring. Tanagers and orioles are drawn to them.
  2. Summer: In the summer, there are a lot of young, hungry mouths to feed. If your seed mix is rich in black-oil sunflower, birds of all ages will continue to consume it. Numerous birds will bring their young to your seed feeders for their first lesson. Sugar water is a must because the summer months are the summer season.
  3. Fall: The ideal time to view a variety of birds visiting your feeders is in the fall. Fall is a time of migration for many birds, and feeders offer an excellent stop to refuel. Birds require diets heavy in calories and fatty acids around this time to refuel their fantastic marathon flights. 
  4. One of the most crucial periods to feed birds is during the winter. They can’t find food as readily when it snows or is below freezing outside. These birds need high-calorie and oil-rich meals to survive the shorter, icier days. Suet is a healthy diet for birds (especially good in winter because of the high-fat content), peanuts or peanut butter, White proso millet, and Black oil sunflower seeds, which have twice as many calories as hulled sunflower seeds.

Pet or human activity 

Because of your dogs or human activity, birds sometimes won’t visit your bird feeders. Even if your animals don’t chase the birds, the birds may still feel uneasy and leave your feeders. The birds will experience some worry even if your pets are just gone for a short while. 

Those interruptions from every action of people give your birds a sense of unease and danger. Here are some home remedies to keep birds away: Shiny Objects, Predators, Garden Balls, Bird Spikes, and Repellent Sprays. They could eventually go for a more tranquil area. 

Get rid of as many disruptions from your yard as possible to encourage birds to visit your feeders. To shield birds from noise and disturbances from the street, move your feeders or install a hedge or border. Moreover, the birds would prefer quiet and peaceful areas such as rural and the suburb and they have the tendency to stay away from populated areas.  

Source: iStock

Neglect the power of plant and flower

You must offer shelter for birds if you want them in your yard. Birds require a haven to flee to in times of danger. Before moving to your feeders to dine, birds need a spot to survey the area for risk. Birds require a sense of safety. Birds won’t visit your bird feeders if they don’t feel safe.

It’s a good idea to choose multiple trees or shrubs that provide fruit at various times of the year. Most of these plants also feature stunning spring blooms or vivid fall leaves. Blackhaw-Viburnum 1 Serviceberry, Mulberry, Viburnum, Sargent Crabapple, American Mountain Ash, Black Tupelo, Juniper, and Winterberry Holly are also excellent options.

Moreover, flowering plants offer a source of natural food and tempt birds to check out your feeder as a fallback. Orioles and hummingbirds adore tubular flowers like penstemon, coral bells, bee balm, and fuchsia. Birds appreciate the seeds produced by other flowers, such as sunflowers. Try honeysuckle, coneflower, and zinnias for examples of flowers that generate pollen. Remember to grow fruit-bearing plants as well.

You can identify the finest plants for birds in your area using Audubon’s Native Plant Database.

Source: Humanesociety

The appearance of predators and bully birds

Birds could stop using your feeders or, at the very least, start acting considerably more wary and erratic when they notice any signal of predators. Sharp-shinned Hawk and Cooper’s Hawk are two types of forest hawks that hunt birds at feeders in residential areas throughout the winter. These hawks may be seen sitting on your fence, keeping an eye on your bird feeders. 

Moreover, your favorite birds aren’t visiting your feeder because other “bully” birds have seized control and driven them away. Bully birds are any bird that occupies the feeder exclusively and deters other birds from visiting your feeders. They may include the Crow, the Hummingbird, or the House Sparrow. Witnessing the appearance of those bully birds near the feeder, all other birds may tend to stay away to avoid getting into trouble. In order to attract more of the “good” birds to your feeders and get rid of the bullies, you must switch your food and feeders to varieties that the aggressive birds dislike. 

Source: Bird In Former

No bird bath 

Nothing draws birds in like water trickling! Birds must consume water. Not only the animals are drawn to the seed in your feeders. In your bird bath, birds may bathe and drink. It’s not necessary for bird baths to be complex or expensive. Use a saucer or a small bowl.

The number of birds visiting your yard and feeder will significantly increase if you install a bird bath, fountain, or dripper. 

Neglect the power of insects 

Many bird species eat primarily insects, which are also a crucial source of protein and fats for young, developing birds. Instead of using insecticides, taking the advantage of having bugs in your yard to attract new birds! 

Frequently Asked Questions 

How long does it take birds to find a bird feeder?

Sometimes, birds can locate feeders quite quickly. In other situations, it might take weeks for them to discover your feeders and get accustomed to them enough to start feeding. 

If you live in a suburban location, there is a strong probability that other individuals in your neighborhood have bird feeders out. This indicates that the local birds have already come to associate bird feeders with a free meal, so you can anticipate them to start arriving shortly. 

In rural locations where they may not have previously encountered bird feeders, birds may take a bit longer to recognize them as a food source. 

You may or may not know, but the time of arrival of the bird also depends on the State you are in! Between 5 and 18 days, mostly around 10 days, are needed for birds to discover a bird feeder for the first time. The time it takes birds to learn feeders can vary depending on several factors, including the location of the feeder, the type of birds that live nearby, the environment’s safety, and the time of day.

Do birds tell other birds where food is?

Birds are incredibly attuned to their environment and have exceptional vision and hearing. They will enter after hearing the sounds of excitement and fighting made by other birds taking advantage of a free meal. 

Birds are watchful and will look into other birds’ arrivals and departures at a food source. Birds use these methods to convey the location of food sources obliquely.

Can birds smell bird feed?

Most birds lack a highly developed sense of smell. Songbirds rely more on their excellent vision than their keen sense of smell to find food, unlike certain species, such as turkey vultures, known to have a keen sense of smell. 

What is the fastest way to attract birds to a bird feeder?

We’ll show you how to attract birds to feeders with the following valuable tips if you’re having trouble luring birds to your outdoor space or want to entice as many feathered friends as possible. You could follow these tips to attract birds to your feeder:

  • Offer various types of food
  • Keep your feeders clean
  • Use plants or trees to create shelters
  • Add water dripper
  • Set upright time of the year, which is suggested to be mid to late autumn
  • Adjust the position and height 

Final Thoughts

how do birds find bird feeders? Birds do this utilizing their exceptional hearing and vision. Birds have an incredible natural ability to discover food sources and prey, which they also employ to find a bird feeder. Be patient; it takes time for them to begin eating and associate your feeder with a free meal.