- Pets and Animals
How to Hang Bird Feeders
Tips for Hanging Wild Bird Feeders and Attracting a Variety of Birds to Your Yard
Feeding the birds is a popular past time for millions of people worldwide, with many birdwatchers and gardeners spending a considerable amount of their time and money in trying to attract different species of wild birds into their yards.
For many of us, hanging bird feeders is a great way to see a variety of birds, often by watching through the window from the comfort of our home. The many different types and styles of bird feeders available on the market today makes it easy to match the feeders and birdseed to the tastes of the local birds in our areas. There are tube style bird feeders that designed for holding sunflower seeds and thistle seeds, platform and ground feeders for millet and cracked corn, and wire cages for holding suet cakes. Each type of bird feeder and the wild bird seed it holds is designed to appeal to specific species of birds. The trick is in matching the type of birdseed and bird feeders to the types of birds in your area, and then hanging bird feeders increases the chances of attracting these birds to your garden.
Once you decide on the type of bird feeder and birdseed, the next step is to hang the feeder. Location is important, both for the birds and for you to see the feathered visitors, as well as providing you with easy access to refill and clean the feeders. Hanging a wild bird feeder is as simple as suspending the feeder from an available tree branch, or a more ambitious project of installing specialty poles and brackets for hanging multiple feeders. Here are a few tips and suggestions for hanging bird feeders in your yard.
Tips For Hanging Bird Feeders
Choosing a Bird Feeder
In many areas, the commercial bird food that attracts the greatest variety of birds is black-oil sunflower seeds. Black-oil sunflower seeds are slightly smaller than their common gray-striped cousins, and their hulls are thinner and easier to open. A tube feeder filled with black-oil sunflower seeds is a good combination for attracting a wide variety of birds to your bird feeder.
Tube style bird feeders are easy to fill and maintain, and they are also easy to hang. Most feeder models are designed to hang from hooks, cables or chains. Many of the popular models hang from a sturdy wire bail that is secured near the top of the feeder. The bail pivots to side, allowing easy access to the top of the feeder for filling with fresh birdseed.
Hanging a variety of different types of feeders, filled with different types of bird seed and placed in different places around your yard and at different heights, increases the number and types of birds that will visit your yard. Some bird species are territorial, and placing feeders in different locations helps to reduce competition at the feeding stations.
Do You Feed the Birds?
If You Feed Them, They Will Come!
Here's a short list of the common birds in North America, and the type of wild birdseed that attracts them. Fill up the feeders and ring the dinner bell!
Sunflower seeds: The black oil sunflower seeds have a thinner shell than the gray striped variety, making it easier for the birds to open.
Attracts: nuthatches, chickadees, cardinals, jays, woodpeckers, titmice, finches, sparrows, and grosbeaks.
Safflower seeds: Birds like safflower seeds, but squirrels tend to leave them alone.
Attracts: nuthatches, cardinals, titmice, finches, sparrows, and grosbeaks.
Thistle (nyger seed): This small seed requires a specialized feeder.
Attracts: nuthatches, chickadees, cardinals, jays, woodpeckers, titmice, finches, sparrows, and grosbeaks. Flocks of goldfinches will crowd around a thistle-filled feeder.
Suet: Sold in square cakes, a commercially prepared suet cake often includes nuts, berries and other little tasty bits.
Attracts: nuthatches, chickadees, jays, woodpeckers and titmice.
Cracked corn: Spread cracked corn on the ground or offer in tray feeders.Attracts: sparrows, jay and mourning doves. Wild turkeys, quail, deer, chipmunks and squirrels (including flying squirrels) will also visit a wildlife feeder filled with cracked corn.
Nectar: Hummingbirds and orioles will drink liquid nectar from specially designed feeders. Rather than using commercial nectar products containing red dyes that can be harmful to the birds, make a simple syrup by stirring 1/2 cup of sugar into two cups of boiling water. Let the liquid cool completely before filling the feeder.
Orioles also like jelly.
Mealworms: Bluebirds love mealworms. Available live or freeze dried, offer mealworms on a tray feeder or in specially designed bluebird feeders. Ring a bell when filling the feeder, and bluebirds will learn quickly that dinner is served.
Droll Yankees Sunflower Tube Bird Feeder
This Droll Yankees sunflower and mixed seed bird feeder has six feeding ports and holds up to three pounds of seed! The bird feeder features multiple comfort perches and landing areas to accommodate numerous species of birds, plus a clever twist release base for quick and easy cleaning.
Finding The Right Location
Birds need to feel safe and secure before they will visit a bird feeder. Look around your yard to locate places to hang the wild bird feeders near the safety of shrubs, bushes and trees, while also selecting sites where you can watch the feeding birds and access the feeders safely for refilling and cleaning.
Be aware that cover can also conceal predators, so take care to ensure that the bird feeders are not located in areas where cats and other predators can hide and ambush birds as they visit your feeders. Locate your bird feeders close enough to trees and shrubs so that the visiting birds will feel secure and can watch for predators, but not so close that the neighbor's cat can reach the feeders by leaping from a concealed spot under a bush.
Look Between the Trees
Running a cable between two trees makes it easy to suspend several feeders in close proximity, with each bird feeder offering different types of birdseed. Anchor the cable high enough for the bird feeders to hang down within easy reach for cleaning and refilling.
Drill a small pilot hole in one tree at the desired height, and then screw an eye bolt into the hole. Attach one end of the cable to the eye bolt: I used a length of solid copper electrical wire that I threaded through the eye bolt and then wrapped around itself several times to secure the end of the cable to the eye bolt.
Stretch the other end of the cable across to the second tree. Pull the cable tight, and use a level to determine the proper height and location for anchoring the end of the cable. Drill a pilot hole, screw in another eye bolt and then attached the cable securely.
Determine where along the cable to suspend the bird feeders. I used another section of copper wire to form a drop wire for hanging the bird feeders at a convenient height. Wrap one end of the copper wire several times around the cable, attach the other end to an "S" hook, and then hang the wild bird feeder from the "S" hook. The connection to the cable is secure, yet allows for easily moving the bird feeder along the length of the cable for spacing.
Up Under the Roof
Hanging bird feeders near a window allows for great views of feeding birds. Choose a bracket that can be mounted horizontally (essentially upside down) from the underside of the eves. Many of the wrought iron style brackets can be adapted for this use, including the brackets in the accompanying photo, and the overhanging roof protects the bird feeders from the rain and snow. Hanging wild bird feeders from eves also makes it very difficult for squirrels to reach the feeders.
Hang a cable from the bracket, and attach at quick release karabiner to the other end. Karabiners are inexpensive and readily available at hardware stores. They securely hold the bird feeder in place yet make it easy to remove the feeder for cleaning and refilling with birdseed.
Decorative Brackets for Bird Feeders
Wrought iron and decorative metal brackets are available in many different sizes and styles, and the brackets attach easily to trees and poles for hanging bird feeders.
Rather than screwing the bracket directly into a tree, mount a small backer board to the tree and then attach the bracket to backer board. I use small pieces of pine or cedar for the backer boards. Sometimes I paint the backer boards, though I'll often let the wood weather to a natural silvery-gray.
Cast iron brackets are sturdy and hold the feeder securely, but after a few years of exposure to the elements they may begin to chip and rust. Clean the metal bracket with a little sandpaper or a wire brush, then cover with a couple of coats of exterior grade spray paint, and the metal bracket is ready for several more years of service.
Build a Feeder Plank for Hanging Suet Feeders
Suet feeders attract woodpeckers, nuthatches and other clinging birds, and this simple design adds functionality to the basic wire cages used to hold suet cakes. Refilling the feeder with fresh suet cakes is easy and takes just a few moments.
Depending on your preference, attach the wire suet cages to either one side or to both sides of the feeder plank. The extension below the wire cage acts a tail prop for larger woodpeckers while feeding, and the short cable attached to the top plate makes it easy to hang the suet feeder from a branch or decorative bracket.
To make a feeder plank for hanging suet feeders, cut two pieces of pine, cedar or redwood into the following dimensions:
Top plate: 2 ” W x 7 ” L
Feeder plank: 5 ” W x 12” L
Sand all of the edges to break the hard corners and remove any tear outs from the cutting process. Mill a decorative edge along the top plate with a router bit. Use the same bit to mill decorative edges down both sides of the feeder plank, and along the bottom edge. Do not mill the top edge of the feeder plank.
Drill two holes, 3/16 inches in diameter, approximately inch from each end of the top plate. Later, we'll thread a short piece of cable through these holes for hanging the Suet Feeder.
Attach the top plate to the top edge of the feeder plank, using weather resistant nails or screws.
Position a wire suet feeder cage to the feeder plank, leaving enough space at the top to open the cage for filling with suet cakes. Use two short screws and over-sized washers to secure the suet cage to the feeder plank.
Thread the ends of a short length of cable through both holes in the top plate. Tie each end with a simple overhand knot, and the suet feeder is ready to hang in the garden.
A Better View....
Squirrel Resistant Bird Feeders
Feed the Birds, Not the Squirrels
A Nice Selection of Bird Feeders - Use The Right Feeder To Attract Birds
Designed to Attract Cardinals: The Brome Squirrel Buster Plus Bird Feeder with Cardinal Perch Ring The Squirrel Buster Bird Feeder features a removable Cardinal Ring System that is specifically designed to attract cardinals. Cardinals prefer gripping a thick textured perch and facing their food source. The Squirrel Buster Plus Cardinal Ring perch system allows them to eat facing the bird feeder while providing a secure and comfortable perch.
Yankee Flipper: The Squirrel - Proof Bird Feeder
Droll Yankees Squirrel-Proof Bird Feeder
The Yankee Tipper bird feeders have a weight activated feeding tray that lets birds eat, but the weight of a squirrel drops it safely to the ground.
The Tipper bird feeders feature a weight-sensitive feeding tray that attracts ground-feeding birds, but tips under the weight of a grey squirrel. The large tray can hold the weight of up to four cardinals (about 8 ounces), plus it collects fallen seed and serves as a platform that allows multiple birds to feed simultaneously from the four seed ports.
Around the Web: Bird Watching Sites
- The Cornell Lab of Ornithology
The Cornell Lab of Ornithology is a world leader in the study, appreciation, and conservation of birds. Our hallmarks are scientific excellence and technological innovation to advance the understanding of nature and to engage people of all ages in le
- National Audubon Society
Includes conservation news and education information on birds with links to birding guides, nest box dimensions, watch lists, bird counts, bird profiles and much more!
- Wild Bird Watching
The Wild Bird Watching website has lots of information on building birdhouses including a chart below listing the dimensions and entrance hole sizes for some of the more common types of cavity nesting birds.
- Wild Birds for the 21st Century
News and information on birds including conservation, building birdhouses and creating bird-friendly gardens.
- The North American Bluebird Society
The North American Bluebird Society is a non-profit education, conservation and research organization that promotes the recovery of bluebirds and other native cavity-nesting bird species in North America.
- Make A Bluebird Feeder
Bluebirds feed on insects rather than seeds, and they are especially fond of mealworms. This specially designed bluebird feeder is easy to make, and the bluebirds learn quickly to enter the feeder to feast on live or freeze dried mealworms.
- Storing Wild Bird Seed
Hanging bird feeders filled with fresh seeds and matched to the types of birds in your area increases the chances of attracting birds to your yard, but keeping wild bird seed fresh and safe from rodents can be challenging. Here are a few simple tips
- Attracting Bluebirds To Your Garden
Bird watchers and gardeners try to attract bluebirds into their yards, both for their beauty and for the beneficial role they play by eating many different types of insects.
Create A Backyard Wildlife Habitat
The National Wildlife Federation Certification Program
For over 35 years, the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) has encouraged homeowners, schools, corporations and municipalities to incorporate the needs of the local wildlife into their landscape design.So far, the NWF has recognized the efforts of nearly 140,000 individuals and organizations who plant native shrubs and plants for food, cover and places for raising their young, provide include a source of drinking water, and add nesting boxes for cavity nesting birds.Please visit the NWF website for additional information on their official Certified Wildlife Habitat program
The Four Essential Ingredients for a Bird-Friendly Yard: Food, Shelter, Water & Nesting Sites
Brrr... It's Cold & Snowy but the Bird Feeders Are Full!
Help Save Birds From Flying Into Your Windows!
Specially designed window decals reflect ultraviolet sunlight, which birds can see but is invisible to us. The decals look like little frosted images, but the birds see the reflected ultraviolet image as a bright warning sign!
Use Window Decals to Warn Flying Birds!
Nothing is sadder to bird watchers than to hear the "thump" of a bird flying into a window or sliding glass door. We have several large windows which were an unseen danger to the birds that we attract to our feeders and nest boxes. Applying a few inexpensive ultraviolet window decals to our sliding doors and picture windows has significantly reduced collisions, saving injuries and death to our flying feathered friends.
© 2011 Anthony Altorenna