Frequently Asked Questions

How long will it take for birds to find a new feeder?  It depends on the type of feeder and the feeder location.  It could take hours or weeks.  Birds may take longer to find window feeders and other feeders very close the house.  Try getting the birds' attention by putting some aluminum foil on top of the feeder.

Why did the birds stop coming to my feeder?  The birds may have stopped coming to your feeder because there is a lot of natural food readily available.  Some birds switch to feeding primarily on insects during certain parts of the year.  There could be a problem with your seed or feeder.  Try completely emptying the feeder and cleaning it in a bucket of hot soapy water with a little disinfectant, such as bleach, added.   The feeder location could also be a problem, if birds don't feel safe, they will avoid your feeder.  Try relocating the feeder away from shrubs or brush that could hide cats.

How close to a window can I place a bird feeder?  Birds will come right to your window, but it may take them a little longer to get used to the idea, so be patient.  A window feeder will break up the reflection in the window, so you shouldn't have to worry about birds flying into the window and hurting themselves (birds fly into windows because they see the reflection of the woods in the window and think they can fly in that direction).

What time of year should you feed birds?  Birds need the food you put out most during the cold winter months.  You can stop feeding them in the spring, once a reliable supply of natural food is available, but many people continue to feed birds year around.  Providing bird food will not keep birds from migrating on time.  Migration coincides with changes in the length of days, not the abundance of food.

How do you make hummingbird nectar?  Hummingbird food or nectar is made by mixing sugar and boiling water, at a ratio of 1/4 sugar to 1 cup of water.  This sugar water concoction can ferment or get moldy and become harmful to the hummingbirds.  For this reason, hummingbird feeders should be cleaned at least once a week and preferably twice a week.  There is no need to add red food coloring to hummingbird food.  The red on your hummingbird feeder will attract them.

hould you stop feeding humming birds after Labor Day?  No.  There is no evidence that feeding humming birds will keep them from migrating.  The feeders can help hummingbirds prepare for their long migration.  Leave your hummingbird feeders out until the hummers stop coming.

Why do birds need grit?  Birds don't have teeth.  Dirt, sand and other coarse materials they eat gathers in their crop and helps grind up their food.  Adding grit to your feeder can be helpful.

Can birds choke on peanut butter?  There is no evidence that birds can choke on peanut butter.  However, you can make it easier for them to eat peanut butter by mixing it with lard, cornmeal or grit. 

Will suet spoil in the summertime?  In warm weather, raw fat suet can melt and go rancid.  It is safer to use commercially rendered suet cakes during warm weather.  There are "no melt" suet cakes available on the market, designed specifically for warm weather use.  If you live in a very warm and humid region, you may want to avoid suet altogether during the summer.  A mixture of one part peanut butter to five parts corn meal is a good alternative. 


Purple Finches