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How to Attract Birds to a Bird Feeder (10 Proven Methods)

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ruby throated hummingbird on hummingbird feeder

“Build it and they will come.” While that’s an excellent mantra for certain situations, it doesn’t always seem to work when you put up a bird feeder. What do you do if your local birds don’t seem to have any interest in your feeder?

We highlighted 10 proven tips that you can use to attract birds to a new bird feeder. The more of these tips you follow, the higher your chance of success and the more birds you’ll get!

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Top 10 Methods to Attract Birds to Your Bird Feeder

1. Use the Right Feeder

It doesn’t matter how many feeders you put out if the birds in your area can’t feed from them! Don’t just assume that hummingbirds or other more exotic birds are in your area; do your research first.

Some birds require feeders with large openings, while small birds might get scared away by big birds unless the feeder opening is small. Know what birds are in your area and what birds you’re trying to attract, and get the right feeders for them.

hummingbird on hummingbird feeder
Image Credit: GeorgeB2, Pixabay

2. Put It in a Safe Spot

Birds are small and skittish by nature, so if you put the bird feeder in an area where they feel like they’re in danger, they won’t stop by to eat. Look for nearby natural areas that they can escape to if needed. Also, don’t put a feeder out in a wide-open space. While it might be fun to watch the birds feed from there, if they’re too scared to stop by, you won’t get to watch any birds at all! So, find a safe spot for your bird feeder and work from there.

3. Add Natural Places for Them to Stay

If there’s nowhere for feeding birds to hang out, they won’t stay in the area to eat! You need places for them to perch and relax. Trees and bushes make great choices, and they’re among a bird’s favorite places.

Try to find somewhere around the feeders that birds can go, and if you are fine with planting more scenery, it’s a great way to get more birds in your area.

4. Add a Bird Bath

Birds get hungry, but they also need places to get a drink and cool off. If you provide both their food and water needs, you’ve created an excellent place for them to keep coming back to.

The more needs that you can meet, the more birds will show up, and a birdbath is a simple way to meet a need. Even better, it’s another location where you can watch your feathered friends!

bird bath
Image Credit: Gaz_D, Pixabay

Related Read: Why Do Birds Take Dust Baths? Do They All Do It?

5. Use the Best Food

You might not want to use the best food every time you fill up your bird feeder, but it’s a great option when you’re trying to figure out how to attract birds to a new feeder.

Once the birds get used to the new location, you can switch to the cheaper stuff if you want. Now that it’s a part of the bird’s routine and they know where it’s at, they’ll keep coming back for more. Still, keep in mind that if you’re always using their favorites, you’ll get more birds more often.

6. Put Food Around the Feeder

Not every bird eats right from the bird feeder, so sprinkling bird food around the edge of the feeder and even on the ground is a great way to attract birds. Even better, once birds discover your bird feeder, it’s not likely that you’ll need to keep up this activity. Birds are naturally messy eaters, so as long as there are birds eating from the feeder, they’ll start to do this naturally for you!

bird feeder bluejay
Image Credit: PilotBrent, Pixabay

7. Keep the Feeder Clean

Birds are messy eaters, and they will add dirt and grime to the feeder. Nobody wants to eat a dirty dinner table, and birds are no different.

Keep everything clean and in good working order, and it will be easier to attract birds and keep them coming back for more.

8. Stay Consistent

There are few things more frustrating for a bird than traveling to their favorite food spot only to realize that it’s out of food. If that happens a few times, they’re likely to find a new feeder.

If you want to attract birds and keep them coming back, it’s important to stay consistent and be patient. Keep the bird feeder full and clean, and eventually, birds will start to come.

9. Add a Birdhouse

Who doesn’t want their favorite restaurant right by their home? While you’ll need to get the right kind of birdhouse and put it in a good location, a birdhouse will increase the chances of birds then using your bird feeder. It works the other way too, in that birds that frequent your feeder may look around the area to make a new home. It’s a great pairing that increases the chances of success with both the feeder and birdhouse, so don’t overlook adding one or two if you can.

wren birdhouse
Image Credit: Danny Korves, Shutterstock

10. Make It Bright

Birds like brightly colored things, and when they see them, they like to come and investigate. If that brightly colored thing turns out to contain food, chances are that they’ll stop and eat.

They’ll also likely remember the spot, and since the bright colors make it easy to find, they’ll keep coming back for more. So, while you might not want a super-bright bird feeder in your yard, they’re effective at attracting birds to a new feeder.


When you put up a bird feeder and no birds come, it can be a bit frustrating. But hopefully, now that you know how to attract birds to a new bird feeder, you can put that dilemma behind you. Now if you build it, they will come! Here’s to happy birdwatching!

Featured Image Credit: KatyJefferson, Pixabay

About the Author Robert Sparks

Robert’s obsession with all things optical started early in life, when his optician father would bring home prototypes for Robert to play with. Nowadays, Robert is dedicated to helping others find the right optics for their needs. His hobbies include astronomy, astrophysics, and model building. Originally from Newark, NJ, he resides in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where the nighttime skies are filled with glittering stars.