Have you ever put out a new bird food and instead of attracting garden birds it seems to deter them. When birds ignore your new bird food it can leave you wondering why you bother, and just why aren’t birds coming to my feeders? Don’t worry, we’re here to help! This article will tell you all about how to win back the birds, and how to get birds to use a new bird feeder.
When introducing a new bird food and bird feeder in your garden it’s important to understand that it takes time for birds to get used to something new. Giving them time is the most important thing you can do, aside from ensuring there aren’t any other contributing factors that we’ve described below.
Garden birds are lovely companions and entertainment, but they are also wild. The best we can do is make our gardens as inviting as possible and hope that the birds come and enjoy all your hard work!
So why are birds ignoring my new bird food?
The Bird Food
When using a new bird food it’s important to understand what you’re offering. Different bird foods attract different bird species, so whilst Robin’s love Mealworms, other species may not so much. As every garden bird has their own taste offering a new food might not impress your regular visitors, but may attract someone new! Our best advice is to offer as many bird food types as possible in order to best please all your feathered friends. To do this why not try a Bird Feeding Station or a multi feeder like the Fallen Fruits Three-In-One Bird Feeder.
If you want to learn more about what Robin’s like: All About The Robin
If you really want birds to take to your new food you could try taking away your other feeders for a week or two. This will limit their choice so makes them more likely to try your new feeder. Hopefully once you return your original feeders they will continue to use the new one too.
Not only is the type of bird food important, it’s freshness is too. Bird food must be stored correctly to maximise its quality and ensure it doesn’t go off. When bird food isn’t fresh birds will go in search of something tastier, leaving your feeders full and visitor-less. Bird food should be stored in an airtight container in a cool location, such as a garage or shed.
Shop our bird food storage here: Love Garden Birds Bird Food Storage
Garden Bird Predators
Small garden birds are unfortunately on the food chain for a number of garden predators such as cats and birds of prey. You may not have even seen them yourself, but it’s always possible that such animals are terrorising your garden birds, causing them to stay away.
Cats are a big problem to our garden birds as they stalk the neighbourhood looking for prey. To best protect the birds, try to place your feeders above ground and near shelter such as shrubbery so they can easily hide. If cats continue to be an issue in your garden you could try a cat deterrent.
Predator birds are a much trickier problem. Although they’re a threat to our garden birds, they’re also part of their natural ecosystem. The best we can do is place feeders near shelter and hope for the best. You should try to enjoy birds of prey as they are beautiful, impressive birds, with the most common bird of prey in the UK being the Buzzard. Sadly it’s the circle of life!
Squirrels eat bird eggs making them a threat to garden birds. To help prevent this, try to have a bird box in your garden as this provides a much safer place to nest than just in the trees. Squirrels could also be deterring birds from your feeders. To combat this try using squirrel proof feeders such as the Tom Chambers Squirrel Stop Peanut Feeder or the Henry Bell Heritage Gold Squirrel Proof Feeder Seed. Please note that squirrel proof feeders don’t fully protect against juvenile squirrels.
For more advice on squirrels: How To Squirrel Proof Your Feeders
Bird Feeder Cleanliness
Nature is often dirty, however it’s important that your bird feeders aren’t. Dirty bird feeders not only deter birds from eating, but can also be harmful to them. If feeders aren’t kept clean they can easily spread disease through birds, which can sometimes even be fatal. To prevent this try to clean your feeders regularly and rotate the food in them to keep it fresh. If they aren’t eating much try to only put a little food out at a time as to minimise waste. This should help to win back your birds as well as keeping them safe from disease.
To learn more about diseases amongst garden birds: 5 ways to minimise the spread of disease among garden birds
Shop cleaning products here: Love Garden Birds Bird Hygiene
Bird Feeder Location
Where you place your feeders can be nearly as important as what you put in them. It’s a common mistake to get a new bird food and a new feeder and place this in the middle of your garden with little shrubbery around. However this may actually be the very thing making the birds not come to your feeder.
When feeding, birds need to feel safe as they’re on constant alert for threats and need an escape plan if a predator approaches. Whilst you may want to place your feeders somewhere with no shelter this can greatly limit the number of birds who’ll visit your feeders. Our advice is to place bird feeders and bird feeding stations somewhere near shelter such as shrubbery, trees or hedges as this provides your birds with somewhere to hide if necessary. Be careful though, as nearby branches can act as the perfect launch spot for squirrels to jump onto your feeders. There is no perfect distance away but try around 10 feet to stop the squirrels whilst still offering shelter.
If you want to increase the likelihood of birds visiting your garden you could also increase the offering. If possible try to also have a Bird Bath as water is crucial to birds for both drinking and bathing in, and is essential all year round. You could even offer a Bird Box to try and encourage birds to nest in your garden!
Give The Birds Time
Ultimately the best thing you can do is give it time. Offering a new type of bird food is great whether it’s seasonal or you just fancied trying something new, and it may even become a new favourite in your garden! Our feathered friends can be fickle in their ways, so persevere for at least a month to give them enough time to try it out. Hopefully by then if they haven’t got used to it, it might’ve attracted some new visitors instead!
If you have anymore tips or advice please leave in the comments below.
Gemma Sharp is the resident writer for Love Garden Birds, a supplier of premium bird food and accessories. She has had a genuine love for our feathered friends from a young age, and has dedicated a lot of her time to learning all there is to know about them. If you’re struggling to pick the right bird feed for your garden, need help identifying a type of wild bird, or can’t decide where to put a nesting box, Gemma is the person to go to! She is passionate about sharing her years of learnt knowledge with the public. In her free time, she can be found feeding birds at home with her three young boys.