You don't need a lush landscape, productive garden, or even a yard to enjoy feeding wild birds. It is easier than many birders realize to attract birds to a balcony, whether you live in an apartment, condominium or townhouse. You can even attract birds to a balcony at your office. The key is to make the balcony a desirable feeding station for your hungry feathered visitors.
Before You Put Feeders on Your Balcony
Before you purchase a feeder or bag of birdseed, investigate any restrictions on feeding birds from your balcony. Apartment and condominium complexes may have guidelines or regulations that prohibit feeders. You may not be able to use hooks, screws, or other feeder equipment that could damage the walls or railings. A messy balcony may also be against tenant guidelines, or rental agreements may restrict the number or types of feeders permitted.
No matter how much you enjoy feeding the birds, it may not be worthwhile to risk fines or penalties, including eviction or lawsuits, if you violate the property's guidelines. If you can use bird feeders, however, there are many creative ways to attract birds and offer them a delicious treat from your balcony.
Birds That Might Visit a Balcony
Before putting out your first balcony bird feeder, you should be aware of which birds might be willing to visit. That way, you can tailor the feeder style and foods offered to the birds' preferences. Birds fly at all different heights and will be willing to visit balcony-level feeders. Sparrows, finches, orioles, tanagers, and doves are all comfortable feeding at different heights and could easily come to balcony feeders.
Hummingbirds will also happily visit balconies for a sweet treat, and in urban areas where feral parrot colonies are present, those colorful tropical birds can also become regular guests.
How to Attract Birds to Your Balcony
The key to attracting birds to a balcony is to catch their eyes with an attractive bit of habitat. Flowers, plants, and even a potted tree can entice birds to a safe balcony. The more plants you have to create a habitat, the more at ease birds will feel as they visit. Hanging baskets are a good option to add more greenery, or a small trellis can easily support a climbing vine. A pot of flowers can be a great accent on a patio table, or you can add a multi-level shelf or railing planters for even more growing space.
Another way to catch birds' attention and draw them to your balcony is with attractive sounds. A tabletop fountain can draw birds closer with its dripping and splashing sounds, or you may carefully play bird sound recordings to help birds realize the area is safe and welcoming. Do not overuse sounds, however, because excessive recordings can be considered threatening or challenging and shy birds may stay away instead.
There are some things to avoid on your balcony, however. Excessive clutter can intimidate birds, particularly if items such as bikes, grills, or tools are stored on the balcony. Bright moving objects, such as windsocks or spinners, can also scare birds away with unexpected flashes. Unnatural sounds like wind chimes can also be detrimental to attracting birds to a balcony. If you remove these potential problems and fill your balcony with plants, however, the birds will feel more welcome and willing to visit balcony feeders.
Best Bird Feeders for Balconies
There are many different bird feeders that can be ideal for balconies. Feeders that can be balanced on or attached to railings are perfect. Hanging feeders can be used if a hook can be attached to the wall, railing, or roofline. Take care that clamps or hooks will not damage the structure, however, or else you may be subject to fines. Freestanding pole setups are another great option.
Both large and small feeders can be used on balconies. You should choose a feeder than can feed multiple birds without being too heavy or unwieldy for a balcony setup. Feeders that offer no-waste foods such as nuts, jelly, sunflower hearts, or hulled sunflower are often best because they will leave less mess behind than bird seed. You can also attach a net or tray beneath feeders to catch any spillage and keep your balcony clean, and avoiding any mess falling on the neighbors below.
Feeders should be colorful and clean to best attract birds. A vibrant feeder will be more attractive to birds and more enjoyable for you to watch as the birds visit. Be aware, however, that a good feeder may attract more than just birds. Squirrels are acrobatic climbers and may quickly discover a feeder on a balcony. Fortunately, baffles are just as effective on balcony bird feeders as they are at any other feeding stations. Baffles can be very helpful to keep unwanted guests from getting a free meal.See also: How to Successfully Squirrel-Proof Your Bird Feeders
It can be very rewarding to feed birds from a balcony, knowing that you've built a welcoming micro-habitat that appeals to birds without the benefit of a more traditional yard or landscape. With care and patience, you can enjoy a wide range of birds up close and personal right on your balcony.