Bird Feeding Tips: How to Successfully Manage Backyard Bird-Feeding Stations

Attract wild birds to your backyard with a variety of bird feeding stations.

| September 2011 Web


When you place feeders at different heights you provide feeding options for birds that are too shy to eat directly from the ground.

Photo by Getty Images/Willowpix

The following is an excerpt from "Secrets of Backyard Bird-Feeding Success" by Deborah L. Martin. The excerpt is from Chapter 8: Feeding Station Features. 

Put Feeders on the (Right) Level 

Almost as important as what birds eat is the question of where they eat it. In natural settings, multiple species are able to live in the same area, because they occupy different niches within the broader habitat. Tanagers and warblers feed on insects high in the treetops; catbirds and wrens dine at shrub level on insects, seeds, and fruits; and robins hunt for worms and juncos for seeds at ground level.

When we put up feeders to invite birds into our yards, we ask the birds to ignore these instinctive protocols in favor of perching side by side at a tray of seeds. Not every species will adapt readily to dining in artificially arranged conditions, which is why only certain birds routinely visit feeders. The more you do to offer foods in situations similar to those in which birds feed in nature, the more birds will be attracted to your foods and feeders.

To appeal to the greatest variety of birds, place your feeders at different sites and arrange them at different heights. Place several feeding trays or platforms on the ground, then set up one or two feeders a few inches above ground level. Arrange some feeders a foot or two off the ground, and hang other feeders higher up in trees. (Place ground-level feeders in an open area away from bushes and plants, so that predators can't sneak up on the birds.)

When you create multiple feeding sites, you give ground-feeding birds all the room they need to eat in comfort. And by adding feeders at several different heights, you provide feeding options for birds that are too shy to feed directly on the ground. Make dining convenient for your feathered friends. A ground feeder makes eating easy for cardinals, while nuthatches prefer raised platform feeders. Titmice like any feeder that's set off the ground, and chickadees visit all kinds of feeders, including hanging types.

mother earth news fair


Oct. 21-22, 2017
Topeka, KS.

More than 150 workshops, great deals from more than 200 exhibitors, off-stage demos, inspirational keynotes, and great food!