Top 12 Tips to Attract Birds to Your Feeders

Updated: Feb. 02, 2023

Want to feed more bird species in your backyard? Follow these tried-and-true ways to learn how to attract birds to feeders.

Offer a Variety of Foods to Attract Birds to Your Feeder

Feeders full of seeds, suet, sugar water and fruit, such as oranges and grape jelly, will delight your winged guests. Also, consider hanging different styles of feeders around your garden to boost the appeal.

Try Mealworms

Several species including bluebirds will gobble up live or dried mealworms as a treat. Check out the best bluebird feeders and feeding tips.

Birds Love Peanuts

downy woodpecker on peanut feederCourtesy Sarah Wood
Downy woodpecker on a peanut feeder

Chickadees, nuthatches, blue jays and woodpeckers all love peanut pieces. Mix them with seed, or hang a special peanut feeder to attract extra attention. Peanuts in the shell are favorites of blue jays. Watch for fussy jays to pick up several peanuts before choosing just the right one.

Remember Ground Feeding Birds

Some birds that do not visit feeders will take seed that is sprinkled on the ground around shrubs.

Keep Track of Your Visitors

how to attract birds to feedersCourtesy Patsy Elmore
Painted bunting

By observing their comings and goings over the seasons, you’ll know what birds to expect and when. You’ll also learn about the habits of each of the visiting species. Go one step further by joining a citizen science project such as Project FeederWatch, where you’ll report your sightings to ornithologists who record bird trends across North America.

Get Your Neighbors Involved

Expand birds’ local habitat by inviting your neighbors to participate. With additional space, perches and food available, you’re sure to attract more birds to your feeders.

Keep Feeders Clean

hummzinger feederCourtesy Sue Gronholz
Ruby-throated hummingbird on a saucer style feeder.

Make sure you clean and disinfect feeders regularly and discard old or wet seed. Replace sugar water every few days and more often in hot weather.

Use Plants for Shelter Around Feeders

277613940 1 Mike Cardamone  Bnb Bypc 2021Courtesy Mike Cardamone
Brown thrasher on a suet feeder

Birds like cover, especially near feeders, so plant evergreen trees, bushes, vines or ground covers nearby.

Grow native ornamental grasses for birds and butterflies.

Add Water to Your Landscape

american redstartCourtesy Jon Toth
A male American redstart drinks from a bird bath

Some birds like robins that don’t eat from feeders will visit bird baths. A clean bird is a comfy bird. If your area experiences winter freezes, switch to an electric or solar heater to warm up your birdbath so birds can stay tidy and have a drink on icy days.

Maintain a Four-Season Habitat

Once you attract birds to your feeder, don’t stop there. Make your yard a neighborhood hub by providing food, shelter and water year-round, even when the weather is warm. Seed- and berry-bearing plants will attract hungry birds to your yard. Select plants that peak at different times of year for a long-lasting backyard buffet.

Leave a Little Garden Debris in Winter

278027819 1 Steven Bloemendaal Bnb Bypc 2021Courtesy Steven Bloemendaal
Goldfinch on a dried sunflower head

Instead of doing a thorough cleanup in the fall, let birds like goldfinches enjoy the seedpods, leaf piles, dropped fruit and other natural materials that usually get cleared away weeks earlier.

Try the top 10 seed bearing plants your birds will love.

Garden Green

Once you commit to attracting birds to your feeders, take an eco-friendly approach to garden care by avoiding toxic chemicals. Choose natural chemical-free options that are safe for the creatures you’ll host.

More Ways to Attract Birds to Your Feeder

how to attract birds to feedersKIRSTY NADINE/DREAMSTIME.COM
House finch at a tube feeder

Readers share tried-and-true tips about keeping backyard birds happy and fed.

  • “I have duplicate feeders. When it’s time to take one down to clean, there’s another that’s ready to fill and take its place. This way I can clean the dirty feeder and let it air dry,” says Linda DiGasper of Red Hook, New York.
  • “Place fruit slices in a suet basket. Woodpeckers enjoy the special snack,” says Richele Herigan of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
  • “We have several styles of feeders and offer a selection of bird food to attract a variety of birds,” says Sue Gronholz of Beaver Dam, Wisconsin.
  • “I add extra sunflower seeds to bags of mixed bird seed. The supply lasts longer and keeps the cost down while being more attractive to many birds,” says Juli Seyfried of Grove City, Ohio.
  • “Metal shower hooks work great for hanging feeders. I just snap open the hooks to remove my feeders for refilling or cleaning. They even fit over small tree branches,” says Lorraine Noerenberg of Backus, Minnesota.
  • “Terra cotta flowerpot saucers are an easy and inexpensive way to serve all my feathered friends. I attach the saucers to posts around my deck and fill them with birdseed,” says Sheryl Neal of Carrollton, Ohio.