How Long Before Birds Come to a New Feeder?

Feeding wild birds is a wonderful way to enjoy nature, but it can be hard to know exactly when the birds will start showing up. So we’re going to help answer the question, how long before birds come to a new feeder?

It’s not uncommon for people who love feeding birds to spend their whole day waiting and watching for the first bird visitor! The problem is that there are so many different types of feeders out there with such varying levels of popularity among different species of birds that it can take a very long time before any new visitors show up at all.

We’ve put together this blog post as a helpful resource for anyone looking into getting started in backyard bird feeding, or just curious about how long they should expect it will take until they see some action around their new feeder.

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It Takes Time for Birds to Find A New Feeder

If you feed them, they will come. Is this true for a new bird feeder? Well, most likely, yes. But it doesn’t happen immediately. The thing is that not all birds are created equal: they each have different tastes and feeding preferences.

In addition, even with the same birds, it just might take them a bit of time to get used to your new bird feeder and decide that it’s safe enough for them to come back.

This could take place within a few hours, a few days, a week or two, or up to a couple of months. Many times, though, after a few days birds in your neighborhood will find their new feeding spot.

Birds don’t have much of a sense of smell, so they use their great eyesight to see the food in your feeder, but this doesn’t mean that all birds can do it equally well. For example, cardinals and blue jays aren’t as good at seeing small objects from a distance if they’re not perched right on top of them, so they may not notice a new feeder right away.

Species like the titmouse, on the other hand, can see from a greater distance and are more likely to find your feeder sooner than others.

Birds Are Creatures of Habit and Will Eat from The Same Place Every Day

birds are creatures of habit and will eat from the same place every day

Does this sound familiar? Yes, birds are kind of like us humans. They’re creatures of habit, so they tend to go where they know food will be waiting. In fact, if your feeder is entirely new to them and they haven’t seen it before, you can bet that birds aren’t going to find it immediately. They’re just not used to looking here for food just yet.

The thing is that birds are smart enough to remember where the best places are for finding food and will come back to them every day. This is why it’s so important to set your feeder up in a place where you know birds are already looking for food–like near bushes or trees, or close to where they usually nest. If you have the right location, it will be easier to attract birds to a new feeder and start taking advantage of it sooner.

If You Have an Existing Bird Feeder, It’s Best Not To Put Up A New One Too Close By

You want to have space between your bird feeders, if this is not the first one you’re setting up. Here’s why. Birds are creatures of habit, and if you set up a new feeder too close to an old one, they will continue going to the old one and might not even try out the new bird feeder at all.

You want to give them time for their normal routine to change before you start trying to woo them with your new bird feeder.

Try scattering some seed from the existing feeder to the new one, to help guide the birds to it.

Make Sure Your Feeders Are in Areas Where They Can Be Seen Easily

Birds have great eyesight, but they also have different preferences. Some birds will like to eat from feeders that are hanging, while others prefer feeders with perches or ones that sit on the ground.

Just make sure you find which kind of feeder your neighborhood feathered friends like best before you put out a new one so you can give them what they’re looking for!

Put Out Fresh Seed Regularly and Keep The Feeders Full

Just like you would want to know that your favorite restaurant will be ready to serve your favorite meal, the birds that visit your feeder will want to know that they’ll always be able to find food there. You want to keep a good supply of seed on hand so that you can replace any that run out regularly.

Most birds are creatures of habit, so if they’re regulars at your feeder and notice that the food is gone, they might decide not to come back for awhile. You want to have plenty of seeds on hand so that you can fill up the feeder right away if the birds eat them all.

Since some bird food will start to get stale after a while, it’s important to keep your bird feeders stocked with fresh seed every week or two. If you don’t have a lot of birds visiting your feeder, you might want to check it more often.

Place Your Feeders Near Bushes or Other Foliage So That Birds Can Hide Nearby While Eating Their Fill

place your feeders near bushes or other foliage so that birds can hide nearby while eating their fill

Your feathered friends want to be able to hide quickly to protect themselves, so it’s important to put your feeders near some sort of foliage for them to huddle behind. Even so, leave enough distance to protect them from animals (or the cat), that may be hiding in the bushes ready to pounce.

If you have a feeder with perches, you can also hang it in the branches of a tree where birds will feel safe while they eat! Be careful if the vegetation is poisonous though–you don’t want to put out your bird feeder without knowing whether or not it’s harmful to birds.

Keep The Bird Feeder Clean

Be sure you’re taking proper care of your feeders so that they stay clean and free from bugs and mold

Birds can’t be bothered with messy food, so make sure you’re cleaning up any crumbs or other waste regularly! You don’t want to give the birds an excuse not to like your feeder.

You also don’t want your feeders to get infested with bugs or mold, so make sure you’re cleaning them out at least once a month if they aren’t being used very much.

Vary The Height of The Bird Feeders

If your birds like to keep moving from feeder to feeder for variety, it’s best to hang each feeder at different heights

Birds like to be able to move around a lot, so you want to make sure that your feeders are at different heights. Many people prefer hanging their bird feeders about 4 feet from the ground because birds usually like moving low through the bushes and undergrowth.

However, if you have some very tall trees near your home or if you have just one feeder and want to hang it at a higher height, you can still draw in some birds.

Location, location, location

If you place your feeder near the house, it should be within 3 feet of the structure to minimize the opportunity for birds to fly into the window. Otherwise, place the feeder more than 10 feet away from a structure.

Of course, you want to be able to see your feathered friend enjoying a meal, too, so keep an open sight line!

You May Need Different Types of Seed to Attract All Kinds of Birds

Birds enjoy some variety with their food, and they have favorites! If you don’t see any of your favorite birds showing up at your feeder, it might be because they have their own favorites that they want. If this is the case, try to keep a few types of seed on hand for different kinds of birds to enjoy!

Supermarkets usually carry a wide variety of birdseed just for this reason. Experiment to see which kinds of seed will attract the most birds into your yard.

When you first start feeding wild birds, it can be a challenge to tell what sorts of seed they prefer over others. You might have to try out several different types until you find ones that are a big hit with the local species! It can get expensive, but it’s a great investment in watching the birds you love most get to enjoy your yard!

Birds Want and Need Water, Too

Always keep your bird feeder filled with fresh food and clean water nearby so that your feathered friends will always have something healthy delicious to eat and water to drink. 

You might consider a bird bath or even some simple pans of water to use as a bathing source. Keep the water separate from the feeder, though, as typically birds prefer to bathe where there isn’t quite so much activity.

Understand What May Keep Birds Away from New Bird Feeders

understand what may keep birds away from new bird feeders

If you don’t see birds flocking to your new feeder, there may be another reason, and it can be hard to control.

Family pets can deter birds from coming to your new feeder.

Even if you have a feeder with perches, birds will be afraid to hop up and eat if your family pets are too close by. Try to keep dogs and cats away from your feeder because they might harass the birds and prevent them from coming back.

Also, birds may be afraid of a new feeder if you put it up in the middle of a busy yard. If you have children or other pets that run around near the bird feeder, the sound can scare birds away! Birds prefer to stay secluded and quiet, so if they feel scared or threatened by noise, they’ll find somewhere else to eat.

If this happens to you, try moving your feeder a little farther into the yard so that it is somewhat more hidden from view. When birds are free from fear, they will feel much more comfortable coming to your feeder!

Even an ongoing noise from the neighbors can detract from birds coming to a new feeder. If you have a noisy neighbor, your birds may not feel safe enough to approach.

Other predators

There are other predators that will hinder birds finding and coming to new bird feeders.

Crows and other animals may harass your birds if they have a source of food. If you are having problems with crows or other wild life near your feeder, try making a cover for the bird feeder that acts as protection from those predators. Birds will feel safer when they are eating on perches that are covered up, such as on a platform feeder.

Even though feeding birds can be one of the most fun and rewarding hobbies, it’s not always perfect. You may have trouble with some predators, or you may have to figure out what kinds of seed draw in your local species best!  

Conclusion: How Long Before Birds Come to A New Feeder

It’s hard to say when, but you can get your feeding station up and running in just a few easy steps, then be patient and wait for your local birds to start showing up.

For many people, what they look forward to is the slow return of all of their favorite feathered friends. After all, feeding wild birds is one of the best ways to enjoy bird watching.