Bird Watcher's General Store

Where to Hang New Feeders - 12/27/02


Dear Bird Folks:

I received some very nice bird feeders for Christmas. I have never used bird feeders before. Do you have any advice where I should put my new feeders.

-Carl, Chatham

Well Carl,

My favorite place to put a feeder is outside. A lot of people don't agree with that, but they are making a big mistake. Sure, putting your feeder outside might mean that you might have to go out to fill it once in awhile, but that's a chance you'll have to take.

You know Carl, there are a few people out there thinking, "What a stupid question to ask. What's so hard about putting out a bird feeder?". Well, I for one am glad you asked the question. First of all, I didn't have any good questions to answer this week. And second, feeder placement is more important than most people think. Lots of things should be considered, some are for your benefit, while other things are more important for the birds.

If you are like me, you'll think mostly of your own needs first, and well you should. Place your feeder where you can best see it. If you spend most of your time at the kitchen table or at your desk or like I do, lying on a massage table listening to new age music, then place your feeder so you can view it from those spots. Remember, we feed birds for our own pleasure. It is pretty silly to have a feeder that you never get to see. That would be like buying a stereo without speakers, or eating white chocolate, they all are rather pointless.

Also, keep in mind that you will need to fill and clean this feeder on a regular basis, often times during bad weather. Don't put your feeder in some hard to reach place, like the top of a high tree or near an active volcano (Hawaii readers take note). You should be able to pick up your feeder, dump out any old seed and fill it again, without having to use a ladder. If you do need to fill a feeder that is in a high location, I find a small child tied to a long pole holding a cup bird seed is much safer than climbing up a ladder.

There is one last thing to consider when putting out a feeder and that is finding a spot where the squirrels and raccoons won't get to it. You are on your own on this one Carl. There are a few things in life that people need to learn for themselves and this is one of them. I could tell you now, but you probably wouldn't believe me. Plus, this newspaper is only a few hundred pages long, which is not nearly long enough to get into the subject of squirrel-proofing.

Now we move on to which locations are best for birds. Try to find a spot that meets all of the above criteria and that also offers some good cover and habitat. Birds need a place to get out of the wind or to hide from hawks. Many people find that they have fewer birds in the winter. Some of that loss is because their feeders are too exposed. I'm sure your mother always warned you never to expose your feeder. Now you know why.

Next is a tricky one. Placing your feeder in front of your windows where you can see it, but not where your rock hard windows can cause damage to confused birds is not easy. Birds are often fooled by the reflections seen in windows. If bird-window collisions become a problem (and one is a problem), try moving your feeders just a bit. Hopefully that will give the birds a less reflective view of your windows.

With the right choices Carl, bird feeding can be easy for you and safe for the birds. Feeding birds should be a pleasant activity and not leave a bad taste in your mouth. Leave that job for white chocolate.

Artwork by Catherine Clark




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