The Brand New Birder: Bringing Home the Birds

As a new birder and new Backyard Bird Shop staff member, Angela writes about the challenges of bringing backyard birds to a new feeding area, and offers a few tips to make you more successful.


As a brand new birder, I fully expected to fill my feeder, and see all of the local species dining here within a few days.  Well, after three weeks without a single bird, I realized that drawing birds to my busy city yard was going to be more difficult than I had planned.  Not willing to give up, I decided to ask my new co-workers for a few tips to help me attract birds in the city.

These are the three things that have worked best for me:

Feed Suet:  The first bird food that got any action at my house was Suet.  I put out a green wire cage and hung it in a tree.  I didn’t see who ate the first bite, but was thrilled to see that someone finally ate!  The Insect Lovers Nutty Feast, Lindsey’s recommendation as the best all around suet, was gone in about two weeks.  Since then, it has continued to be the favorite in my yard.

Try a Tray Feeder:  The first bird that I actually saw at home, came to a simple open tray feeder.  Michelle told me to try this feeder with a few peanuts, and sunflower seeds.  She said that the peanuts would attract Jays.  The Jays would then make a lot of noise, letting other birds know that they had found food.  Wow, was she right!  Within about 30 minutes of the time I put up the feeder, I had a Jay!  Within the next couple of days, I had a crow and a few house finches!  The birds that I was trying to attract were not seeing the food in my old pagoda shaped ceramic feeder.

Add Running Water: I have always had a water bowl for the birds, but did not have anything to make the water move.  I was told by Emily and Michelle, that birds associate fresh water with moving water.  On their tip, I decided to put in a small fountain.  I was amazed when I found a mother Jay, and her baby bathing in the fountain when I got up the very next morning!  Since I put my fountain in, about three weeks ago, I have had Northern Flickers, Jays, House Sparrows and House Finches bathing in it!

Now I am on to my next project, attracting American Goldfinches . . .