Feeding Birds: How to Get Started

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How to Start Feeding Wild Birds


You see wild birds feeding in your neighbor's yard and think, “How cool is that?” and “How can I do it?” Here are 6 easy steps to begin feeding birds in your yard. It's inexpensive, it's educational, and best of all, it’s fun!

6 Steps to Bird Feeding Success

1. Get a Bird Feeder

There are many types of wild bird feeders available. They include:

  • Mesh Bird Feeders 
  • Seed Feeders 
  • Platform Feeders 
  • Tube Bird Feeders 
  • Window Hummingbird Feeders 
  • Glass Hummingbird Feeders 
  • Decorative Bird Feeders 
  • Wood Bird Feeders 

Create a safe habitat where birds have food, water and places to nest, and are protected from the weather (rain, wind, snow), predators and pests (cats, hawks, squirrels, ants, bees) and pesticides.

Cat watching bird feeder

2. Get Bird Food

Start with by putting out a wild bird food mix – sunflowers seeds, Nyjer and millet. To determine the types of food to put in your yard, learn what birds migrate or come for the season by looking on the Internet or asking at your local wild bird food store.

  • Hummingbirds like nectar; 
  • Flickers and woodpeckers like suet; 
  • Finch like thistle; 
  • Robins, bluebirds, waxwings and mockingbirds like fruit – apples, grapes, etc.; 
  • Jays like nuts; 
  • Orioles like: halved oranges, nectar and grape jelly; and, 
  • Chickadees, woodpeckers and titmice like a homemade recipe of 1 part peanut butter mixed with 5 parts corn meal. 

Hummingbird feeding

3. Place Your Feeder

Put it where:

  • The birds can see it; 
  • It's in a safe place away from dangers such as cats, reflective windows and squirrels; 
  • You have access to the feeder for easy filling and maintenance; and, 
  • You can see it from your “bird watching station” – your porch or living room. 

Bird feeder locations

4. Just Add Water

Put fresh water out in your yard, near the feeder. Use a flat dish or a fountain on a stand. The birds will drink and bath in it – but be sure to keep it fresh and clean.

Bird at waterer

5. Build Bird Loyalty

Feed your birds consistently to keep them coming back – including during the winter months. Maintain your feeder and water source; keep them filled with fresh food and keep them clean to avoid avian diseases from developing.

Birds in the snow

6. Wait Patiently

If this is the first time you've put a bird feeder in your yard, you may have to wait several weeks for them to discover it. To help birds find your feeder faster:

  • Put some seed on the ground underneath the feeder to attract birds in flight; 
  • Check the location of your feeder to make sure it can be seen from above; 
  • Make certain you've got the right seed for the birds in your area; 
  • See if there is a neighborhood cat (or other predator) lurking around your yard; and, most of all, stick with it! 

Take the first step! Put out a feeder with sunflowers seeds, Nyjer and millet and see who shows up.

Make your yard an excellent feeding station and you'll experience hours of pleasure watching the wild birds feed. They will thank you for your time and effort with their beauty and companionship, countless times over!

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