When I first put bird feeders in my garden, I was disappointed when, after a few days no birds came. After I spoke with a neighbour it became obvious I had put my feeders in the wrong place. So, where is the best place to put a bird feeder, if you want them to be successful?
The best location for a bird feeder is somewhere the birds can feel safe. Also choose a spot where you can see the birds, as this is part of the enjoyment. The best locations for bird feeders are usually:
- close to, or in a tree. Or near a hedge or other safe place.
- easy to reach for cleaning and refilling.
- in a more quite area.
Bird feeders should NOT be positioned:
- near to fences or other platforms which can be used as launch points by predators.
- in isolated, wide open spaces away from safety, such as a tree of bush.
- in busy, noisy areas.
- too close to the ground, unless using a type of ground feeder.
Let’s look into how you can best site your bird feeder to keep the birds coming.
Finding The Most Appropriate Place To Install A Bird Feeder
There are a number of things to think about when finding a place to put your bird feeder. You can’t just plonk a feeder anywhere and expect bird to visit; there are a number of factors to consider. I’m going to take you through some of them and hopefully, if you follow these tips, you will get more birds in your garden. Here are 5 easy ways to place a bird feeder that will attract more birds.
First and foremost, it should be accessible to you. This is so you can watch the activity and enjoy the birds. It also allows you to see when the feeder needs replenishing or cleaning and lets you gain access in order to do so. The main reason I put a bird feeder out is to see the wildlife that visits. No matter how many times I see a Gold Finch outside my window I never get bored of how beautiful they look.
Quiet and Peaceful
Like most of us, we don’t like being disturbed while we eat. Birds are the same and prefer somewhere a little quieter and safer, away from human traffic and busy areas. Siting your feeder near to a child’s play area is not going to make birds want to feed. Similarly, a bird feeder near to a patio area where people are often active is not ideal.
Find a quieter spot in the garden away from busier, noisier areas. It doesn’t have to be far; just far enough that birds can be brave enough to venture on to the feeder. Even if birds visit a feeder near to these things they may soon get fed up or startled one too many times to return.
If your feeder is hidden from view less birds are likely to find it. If birds are not routinely in your garden they will likely be flying over it to get to other feeders or sources of food. Placing your feeder in a more visible, less sheltered spot will allow birds to see it from the air and, after some time they will eventually come to investigate.
Siting a bird feeder in an open space will also give birds a great vantage point while feeding. There will be no close hiding place for a predator or human within striking distance that the birds cannot see.
A Place Of Safety
Birds like to have a bolt hole; a place of safety they can quickly dart into to escape a threat or to sit and watch, waiting for their turn. The best way to provide this for them by placing a bird feeder near to some natural shelter – a tree, a bush or some shrubbery. The ideal distance to locate a feeder from a tree is around 10 feet – far enough away that anything lurking there can get them and close enough they can get in quick if they sense danger.
There is no need for this to be evergreen, it just needs to be somewhere they can quickly get to if necessary. I have placed one of my feeders near to a tree in my garden. It is a medium sized tree that kind of over-hangs. I have been careful not to put it too close but the birds love it – they play in the tree and almost queue up waiting their turn on the feeder. Often they will quickly feed then take their pickings back into the tree to eat.
Predators and Bullies
It is important that bird feeders are not too close to fence lines, over head cables and tree branches. Two main reasons for this are cats or other predators (mainly cats) and squirrels. Feeders should be far enough away from such access and launching points that cats and squirrels can use to get to them.
Cats especially are skilled climbers and pretty good and negotiating fence lines. They will take advantage of any means available to target the birds and a feeder within leaping distance of a fence may just be what they need. Luckily we don’t have this problem with our dog around. He just lays in the sun and the birds are not bothered by him.
You may not be bothered by squirrels, especially the first few times you get to see them up close. However, they soon become pests and could potentially damage a feeder or anything on it. Even if they don’t cause damage they will just help themselves to the seed and food you put out for the birds. They can be a real nuisance and spoil your enjoyment of the feeder.
How High Should A Bird Feeder Be Off The Ground?
Some birds you will see visiting are ground feeders, such as Sparrows, Blackbirds and Dunnocks. While Sparrows will fly up to a feeder I have noticed that Dunnocks generally do not. Height will not really affect these guys but other birds will not feed from the ground.
The best height to hang a bird feeder is at their natural feeding height, so around eye-level. 5′ – 6′ is about right. A little higher also works, maybe up to 7′ or 8′. Remember that you will need to be able to reach a feeder to clean and refill it.
The above mainly refers to pole feeders but there is no reason a different type of feeder cannot be placed higher – a block of flats or a second storey apartment, for example. There are purpose made feeders for this type of environment and results can be surprising. I just read a forum post from someone who used a balcony feeder with not one tree in sight. Within a day they had up to 30 birds visiting!
Should I Hang A Bird Feeder In A Tree?
There is no reason why you cannot hang a bird feeder in a tree. I can see a couple of problems with this, though. One – can you still see the feeder and any activity in the tree? Two, squirrels can climb trees.
Hanging a feeder in a tree can attract different types of bird. I have not had one in my garden yet but Woodpeckers usually find food on the trunks of trees. Hanging a feeder near to the trunk of a tree could attract a Woodpecker or other similar bird. Where I live we have a lot of green Woodpeckers. The neighbour I mentioned earlier had a baby one on her feeder just last week!
Hanging a suitable bird feeder in a tree can provide birds with a natural environment in which to feed. Where do birds live? Yep… in trees. As long as it is not too busy in the tree where you hang your feeder, you may find some success with this. Of course, it helps if birds are already using the tree, otherwise they may never find the feeder.
Where To Hang Bird Feeders Without Trees
There are many ways in which to hang bird feeders. If you live in an apartment block you can buy bird feeders suitable for a balcony. You can stick feeders to a window. There are feeders that stick to windows. Window feeders are becoming more popular and allow you to see more closely your feathered visitors.
There are many types of pole available that can be pushed into soil. They are around 6′ tall and provide hanging points for feeders and water tables. They are often called feeding stations. It is easy enough to make your own bird feeding pole – get a length of bamboo and stick some nails into it. Plant the bamboo firmly into the ground and use the nails to hang feeders from.
Watching birds in the garden is fun and bird feeders are a great way to attract them. There are many different types of bird feeder available to buy, or you can make your own with a little imagination.
If you want to put a bird feeder in your garden, there are a few things to consider that will encourage the birds to visit your feeder. Remember the following – proximity to natural shelter, not too close to fences and over hanging branches, a quiet place, too high for cats to target.
If you don’t have a tree in your garden, or you live in an apartment, you can still use feeders but look for ones that suit your location.