Having no birds at a bird feeder is a common problem faced by bird lovers. First, check your feeder in the early morning and dusk, when birds are more likely to visit. If you only view your feeder in the afternoon, you may be missing them. If you still don't see any birds, a bigger problem may be scaring away the birds.
It can take several days for birds to notice the feeder. Keep the feeders clean and dry. Replace the seed if it becomes wet since birds won’t be attracted to moldy seed. A yard filled with bird-friendly native plants will also help attract birds.
A poorly placed feeder is unlikely to attract birds. Move the feeder if it is in the open. A sheltered location within 10 to 15 feet of trees and shrubs is better than in the center of a lawn. Don't place the feeder any closer to trees or any items that cats and other predators can use to launch themselves into the feeder. Feeders should be placed in a sheltered location out of the wind.
Abundant Natural Foods
The birds may be ignoring the feeder because they are getting their fill of natural food. Numbers at feeders tend to be lower in the summer, fall, and early winter. Mild winters with little snow cover can also reduce visits to a bird feeder.
Poor Choice of Seed
The birds may be rejecting your choice of birdseed. Choose single seeds or make your own mixtures based on what birds you want to attract. Black-oil sunflower is always a good choice that attracts a wide variety of wild birds, especially chickadees, nuthatches, and titmice. White prove millet will attract doves, juncos, towhee, and sparrows. Avoid seed mixes that contain milo and red proso millet, which few birds favor.
- University of Florida IFAS Extension; Attracting Backyard Birds: Bird Feeder Selection; Emma Willcox, et al.
- The Cornell Lab of Ornithology: Where to Put Your Bird Feeder
- Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences; Winter Bird Feeding: The Basics; Heather Beck, et al.
- Virginia Cooperative Extension; Feeding Wild Birds; Peter T. Bromley, et al.; May 2009
- University of Wisconsin Extension; Bird Feeding – Tips for Beginners; 2007