Where to Put Your Bird Feeders in the Garden

Bird in feeder eating nuts

If you're new to bird watching in your garden or if you're not impressed so far with the progress you've made in attracting some birds to your backyard, it could well be to do with the placement or positioning of the feeders.

We've learned a huge amount on backyard bird watching simply by trial and error over the years. Learn everything that we now know so you don't make the same mistakes that we did right at the start. 

It matters an awful lot as to where you put your bird feeders in the garden. The placement of them could be the main reason why you are not getting as many birds in as you would like.

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Attracting Birds Can Take Weeks or Months so Give it Time for Feeders to Be Found Before Moving Them

It's not just about what you give the birds to eat, it's also about where you offer that food too. Discover more now on the best and worst places to put favorite edibles such as seeds, suet, fat balls and mealworms.

For us, it took 6 weeks to attract birds to come to the feeders in our backyard. Not because there was anything wrong with the location but just because it can take a long time for them to find this new source of food.

If, after reading through all the tips here and deciding that your placement is fine, then wait for a while before taking some action.

It really is worth the wait. There is nothing I like better than seeing our early morning Robin come to collect his mealworms before the noisy Starlings are out in force. Then the blackbirds (black male and brown feathered female) hopping about the lawn hunting for worms and sometimes some of the fallen food scraps from the feeders.

Top Tips on Where to Place the Bird Feeders for Best Results

1: Place Feeders Where You Can Watch the Birds

The first rule of thumb is to place the feeders where you can enjoy watching the birds in action, even if it's at a distance through a pair of binoculars.

It may sound obvious, but you really want to see and take pleasure from your backyard birding efforts.

If you are unable to see what's happening then you'll really lose out on something that is special and what is a privilege to witness. And, of course, it will help to keep you much more interested too.

2: Birds Need to Feel Safe in Order to Feed

Chaffinch bird feeding on seed open raised platform

Birds need to feel safe before they will feed. It's best to place feeders where natural predators of your garden birds (cats, foxes, birds of prey, snakes and dogs etc.) would find it hard to launch a successful attack.

The best position is really out in an open area of your garden that has good all-round visibility for birds to easily spot any potential threat coming their way and definitely away from somewhere that a neighborhood cat could easily hide.

Yet, they need shelter too. Somewhere not far from the feeders where the birds can quickly dive for cover if they spot a bird of prey or another threat. Nearby trees, bushes and shrubs make great natural cover and protection.

Thorn bushes and shrubs are perfect because small birds can easily hide in those without getting hurt while cats and other predators are unable to attack. Our bushes are around 2 meters from the feeders although 3 (10 feet) is more the recommended distance.

3: Choose a Quiet and Undisturbed Location to Place the Feeders

A quiet part of your garden away from the noise, hustle and bustle is preferable. Some birds learn to become incredibly tame to get closer to good food sources. Robins and blackbirds here in the UK are pretty tame and will still come and feed even while our little girl is playing not far away.

Many birds have a lower tolerance for disturbance and you can miss out on seeing shy species with the wrong location. Since we don't have a huge plot of land, that meant placing the feeders near the bottom of the garden so we can still use the top half when we want to.

4: Position Feeders at Different Heights

European robin bird with food in its beak on tree branch

Try locating feeders at varying heights. This is for a number of reasons. Essentially you want to mimic the natural eating habits of the birds so that they feel comfortable enough to come and dine in your outdoor space.

Some birds are natural ground feeders (blackbirds and other thrushes, robins) and others enjoy feeding at tall heights, away from the easy reach of some of their natural predators. Experimentation for what works for you is the best way to go.

5: Make the Bird Food Easy to Spot

Consider how visible the food is from the point of view of any birds flying overhead. Once they know what's on offer, especially if it's a favorite food, they'll make a visit part of their daily routine round the area.

But they need to easily spot the food first. This goes hand in hand with having the feeding equipment a little out in the open as well.

6: Choose Feeding Equipment That is Easy to Use and Clean

Most of the considerations are to do with the birds. But you also need to think about yourself as well. Think about how easy it is for you to refill and clean equipment.

If you offer water with a bird bath in your backyard, this needs to be cleaned regularly to prevent diseases being spread to the birds.

If you're positioning items in a really difficult place where it's too high for you to reach without a ladder then that's not going to work well long-term. I'm short, at just over 5 foot, so when we made our wooden feeding stations, we designed them with how far I could reach in mind.

7: Think About Weather Protection so Food does not Spoil

Does your feeding equipment need weather protection? We are well used to rain in the UK, so we made sure that all the seed, suet, fat balls and other edibles are partially protected.

To do this, we hung them under sheltered ledges and areas to help to keep the food dry and to stop it from going rancid and spoiling quickly.

Think about how you can easily add some shelter from the type of weather you have. Does the equipment need to go in a shady spot from an intense heat or be covered from rain or snow.

8: Squirrel-Proof the Bird Seed and Nuts

Squirrel holding on to the hanging bird feeder

We don't get squirrels in our back garden but the local nature reserve that we enjoy has plenty and that's where we caught this cheeky one who was happy to pose for the camera. Squirrels are opportunistic feeders and destructive (gorgeous creatures as they are) and if they can get to food, they will get to it. They also can eat huge amounts of nuts and seed which will be sore on your pocket.

If you get squirrels locally, place the feeders where they cannot easily jump or climb, well away from trees, fences, walls and other items in your yard that they can launch off. Use squirrel proof feeders where possible and baffles to prevent them from climbing poles where food is hanging. More ways to deter squirrels.

9: Space Food Out to Attract More Bird Varieties

Spread food out if you can. Once we started to attract birds to feed, we soon realized that we needed to spread the food out more to really prevent the boisterous Starlings from scaring other birds away with their rowdy antics and bad table manners. So we quickly started to build another wooden table. This didn't stop the Starlings from squabbling but it gave other birds such as Sparrows, Tits and Finches a chance to eat at the same time.

10: Guard Against Bird Window Collisions

Be wary of possible window collisions. Too many birds die each year from flying head-on into windows. This is really sad and it is preventable too. Either position feeding equipment really close to windows (less than 3 feet) which ensures that birds slow down to feed and are less likely to have a fatal collision.

Alternatively, place the equipment more than 10 feet away from windows so a bird has plenty of room to take off from it safety. You can get decals for your windows or special shade cloths that help to deter birds from flying straight into the glass.

Use My Own Experience to Encourage More Birds to Feed in Your Backyard

Encouraging birds to feed in your garden can mean some trial and error as you discover what works and what doesn't work over time. The tips here have all come from my personal experience in aiming to create a backyard where we can enjoy watching birds as they eat, drink and bathe.

Though the tips may help to speed up results, it will still take some time before you attract more birds. It will be worth the wait when they come.

After the early morning birds there is then a real rabble of squabbling Starlings and in-between their visits come the Sparrows, Tits, Finches, Doves and the fat Wood Pigeons. Our garden has never been such a hive of activity.

The Starlings, in particular, love to sit up high up on a TV aerial before they all charge down to feed. It's unbelievable how well-behaved they are all lining up and scouting out the area below before they descend in one loud rabble on to the feeders in our yard.

These birds more than any other seem to bicker and squabble constantly while feeding. They are terrible at sharing food unless they are feeding their own young with whom they have much patience. They're so full of character and a delight to watch.

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Articles are accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.