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Birdfeeder Care

Birdfeeders placement

Set up your feeders in a quiet place where they are easy to see and convenient to refill. Place your feeders closer than 3 feet to a picture window, or affixed to the glass or window frame, to significantly reduce the likelihood and severity of window collisions. Window glass kills at least 100 million birds, and possibly a billion birds, every year in the United States. When birds take off from feeders 6 feet or more from windows, they’re going at their top speed when they hit, making the severity of collisions far greater.

Feeders close to natural shelter such as trees or shrubs offer resting places for birds between feeding bouts and a quick refuge if a hawk flies through. Evergreens are ideal—their thick foliage buffers winter winds and offers year-round hiding places from predators.

Be careful not to locate your feeder too close to cover, though. Nearby branches can provide jumping-off points for seed-hungry squirrels, and hiding places for bird-hungry cats. A distance of about 10 feet seems to be a good compromise, but try experimenting. You can provide resting and escape cover for ground-dwelling birds such as Song and White-throated sparrows by providing loosely stacked brush piles near your feeders.

Best Locations for Hummingbird Feeders

Hummingbird feeders should be placed where they are protected from wind; a swaying feeder may spill sugar solution. Also, try setting them where they are mostly shaded, because sugar solution spoils quickly in the sun.

No birds?

When you first set up a feeding station, you may have no feeder visitors. Be patient—the local birds first have to discover the new food source. As with any new restaurant, you may need to do a little advertising to get some clients—if no birds visit your seed feeder within a few days of setting it up, try sprinkling seeds on the ground nearby to make the feeder more obvious. If birds congregate nearby but just don't come to your feeder, sprinkle seed between the favored area and the feeder.

If the seed in the feeder is blowing out or getting wet, it may be too exposed for birds to be comfortable, too. Try moving the feeder to a calmer, more sheltered spot.

If birds still don't come, you may need more bird-friendly plants in your landscaping. You might ask advice from someone who has a successful feeder near you. Or contact a local bird club or Audubon chapter and ask if they have recommendations. Perhaps they can suggest someone who is willing to do a site visit and give you pointers.

If it takes more than a few days for birds to start visiting a feeder, make sure you’re keeping the seed freshened and the feeders clean and dry.

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