In a two week experiment I wanted to show just how effective the advice on this and other blogs can be when choosing the best place for a bird feeder. In another post here, I went through the main reasons why birds won’t go to a bird feeder. Reasons such as location, noise and exposure. If you get these things right you should see birds using your feeder.
In my experiment I put two feeders on a pole in the middle of my front garden to see how successful they would be. The two feeders are shown below with a photo of the garden, to give you a feel for the environment.
The first feeder is filled with mixed seed, which I have had success with previously. It is a good quality mix and not a cheap alternative. It is in a squirrel-proof feeder.
The second feeder is filled with niger seed. The feeder is not the best type for this seed because the feeding holes are way too big.
I want to highlight the pros and cons of choosing this place for a bird feeder.
- Good height
- Clear view all around (for seeing danger)
- The right type of seed
- No tree or substantial shrubs for cover
- Proximity to a road with vehicular and pedestrian traffic
- High competition from other established feeders
There may be more for each list but the one thing that stood out over the others was the lack of natural cover close by. The nearest tree is across the road in a neighbour’s garden, which is probably a but too far away for a quick escape. Most of the other gardens around us have a small, medium or large tree; we are the only ones that don’t. Here it is:
It has been two weeks since I put out the feeders and i have not seen one single bird on it. Even the annoying Pigeons that used to visit every day have not come back.
How I Tried To Get Birds To My Feeders
I waited and waited, then waited some more but despite knowing this can take time and patience I got bored of waiting. Here are some things I did to help encourage the birds to my feeders:
- Introduced some porridge oats, raisins, brown rice to a small wire dish on the pole
- Threw some small pieces of bread on the ground around the pole
- Made sure sure the feeders were clean and topped up (it had been a while since I used them due to other things happening in the garden)
None of these things worked.
Today I Moved The Feeder
At 13:13 hours today I decided to relocate my feeders to the back garden. The back garden has so much more going for it – natural cover, it’s quiet, no open spaces with lurking cats. Here is a photo of the new location:
You can see the feeder is right near a tree; not too close but not too far. It gives them some natural cover for safety, as well as a place to eat after visiting the feeder.
The pole gives enough height to the feeders, so they are well off the ground. It is far enough from the fence that a squirrel cannot jump on to it and nor can a cat.
At 13:26 hours the first visitor came. Just 13 minutes after relocating the feeders, a Robin flew to the tree near the feeder then hopped down to the mixed seed. The photos are not as clear as I would have wanted because it started raining and I was behind a window.
It is now 15:00 hours, an hour and a half later. As I type this post there are three Goldfinches, a Blue Tit and two Great Tits fighting for position on my feeders. The Robin is waiting in the tree for his turn. The Tits like the mixed seed and the Gold Finches only go for the niger seed. A collared Dove just arrived to snaffle some porridge oats and raisins.
Obviously, I am setting myself up for a visit or two from Mr Rat but I will monitor this and reassess in due course. I will probably hang a couple of old sieves under each feeder to catch the debris. For now, though, you can see that the tips and guidance for selecting the best place for a bird feeder really do work. I didn’t have to wait weeks for any action, just 13 minutes!
Something else I am keen to point out is the tree. The leaves have only just fallen, exposing the activity behind the scenes. I know this tree is a favourite of the Robin, or Robins, in the garden as well as the Tits and Black Birds. It just makes good sense to put a bird feeder near to this tree because there is already so much activity in and around it.
Therefore, if you have a tree in your garden, watch it for a while and see if there are any coming and goings. You might not see through into the branches if there are leaves but pay some attention to any movement you notice. If the tree is alive with birds it is likely a good place for a feeder… or three.