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Getting Birds to Come to Your Yard

Where Have My Birds Gone?

Question: I cannot get the birds to come to my bird feeders.  I put out a bird feeder on one of my porch rails and recently hung a feeder in a different location from a line between 2 trees.  The birds will not eat off the feeders.  They will eat the seed I put on the ground under the feeders.  I have never had this problem before getting birds to eat off the feeders.  There are plenty of birds around.  Could you explain this to me or help me correct my problem. Thanks. -- Lauretta

Question: As the winter's progressed, I've noticed a gradual, and then a precipitous, falling-off in the number of birds we were getting. For the past week or so, I've noticed no birds at all. The feeder's always full, so I'm not sure how to explain the drop-off. Do you have any ideas? Any suggestions? I'm perplexed, and a little heartbroken. -- Leslie

Question: I live in St. Louis and have had a lot of birds (chickadees, tufted titmouse, junco, bluejay, cardinals) at my hanging tube feeder the last 2 weeks of March. Now they have ALL gone...and are eating next door. I looked at the food in the neighbor's feeder, and it's the same as mine...only difference I can see is she has a platform feeder. How can I attract some birds back? -- Sarah

Answer: First of all, don't take it personally. Birds move from place to place in search of food. We should all be happy when birds are able to find enough food in the wild that they no longer are dependent on our feeders to survive! Birds also migrate, so sudden changes at your feeder may simply be an indication that the birds have moved elsewhere to raise a family or headed south for the winter.

Having said that, there are some very important things you can do to attract the birds in your area that normally come to feeders.

1. Clean your feeders and keep fresh seed, suet and other foods available. Go look at your feeders. Would you eat out of them or is the seed moldy? Hummingbird nectar can go bad in a day or two in hot weather.

2. Offer protection for the birds. A Cooper's Hawk or Sharp-shinned Hawk may have discovered your feeder too -- but they eat other birds, not seed. Plant Juniper bushes or Ivy or thick shrubs near the feeders so birds can dive to safety when Hawks approach.

3. Keep your cat inside.

4. Offer a variety of food. Use a variety of feeders. Some birds such as doves eat on the ground. Goldfinches like tube feeders with thistle seed. Cardinals like sunflower seeds on a platform feeder.

5. Leave dead trees standing. Prune the branches, but leave the trunk. You will be amazed at the Woodpeckers and Nuthatches you will see. It is easy to spot birds perched on the snag too.

6. Move the feeders away from buildings until the birds get used to eating from them. Then move them closer once they are coming regularly.

7. Look around your yard and the surrounding neighborhood. Is the habitat attractive for birds? What can you do to make it more attractive?

8. Add water

to your yard. Birds like food, but water also attracts them!

9. Be patient!