How to Attract Birds to Feeder in Your Backyard

How to Attract Birds to Feeder in Your Backyard

You might already have birds visiting your yard regularly and are looking for ways to get more species of birds to visit. Or, you’re a newbie to the bird watching game and you want to learn how to attract birds to a bird feeder in your yard. It takes time, but you can definitely work on ways to encourage our feathered friends to flock to your yard.

There are three main things that birds look for in an area: a water source, a food source, and shelter. You have the ability to provide all three of those things to the birds that live in your neighborhood or who are just visiting.

Sources of Water for Your Neighborhood Birds

Providing a water source is an important way to get birds in your yard. As with anything else, you’ll need to keep the source or sources of water clean for your visiting and resident birds, so they don’t get exposed to potentially deadly bacterial infections.

1. Picking a Water Source

Bird baths are the most common thing people use, but there are many options, including misters, fountains, and the like. The nice thing about using sources that make noise is that birds can hear the water, encouraging them to flock to the source.

Water sources for birds

2. Multiple Water Sources

You can set up multiple water sources around  your yard to encourage birds of different species to come to the water sources. Set up a bird bath in one corner and a dripper near your plants, with a mister in the shade, giving the birds coming to your yard lots of options.

3. Providing Clean Water

It’s important to keep the water clean, especially bird baths, which can get dirty. Make sure you clean them regularly, so they don’t set up a mosquito breeding ground that birds never utilize. You can set up a bucket with scrub brushes and bleach, and you’re all ready to clean.

4. Winter Months

During the winter months, it’s important for birds to have access to water. Bird baths often freeze, but you can add a specially designed heater to it, and your birds will reap the benefits of warm water throughout the freezing weather.

Providing Different Food Options

There are a variety of bird food options available on the market, or you can make some of them yourself. Don’t forget about growing plants that birds can feed on or that attract insects for some of your visiting birds to eat.

Attracting birds to feeder in backyard

1. Seed Mixes

You can look into basic seed mixes as a simple solution for “what to feed” to attract birds to a bird feeder or to attract birds to a new feeder in your yard, but cheaper mixes will often go to waste.

The cheaper mixes that you can pick up readily at places like hardware stores may be filled with materials that are inexpensive for the manufacturer to add but which most birds won’t eat.

2. Different Food Options

Offering a variety of foods increases the chance of attracting birds to your yard. Some foods to consider include the following:


Offer a variety of different seeds to encourage different birds to try out your bird feeders. Black oil sunflower seeds are a popular seed that attract birds such as cardinals and blue jays. You can also add foods like millet, which attract different bird species.

Thistle seed or nyjer can attract goldfinches, but it must be placed in a special feeder because it is such a small seed.


Some species of birds eat nuts, and you’ll find that peanut butter itself is a popular food stuff among some birds, such as titmice, jays, and magpies. Your options include offering whole or shelled nuts or just ensuring that the mix of food you offer has nuts in it.


Offering fresh fruits can attract birds to a new feeder in your yard. You won’t want to leave the fruit out to rot, so if it’s not being eaten, make sure that your dispose of the fruit into your trash or compost pile.

Also take note that while birds can eat grapes, you’ll want to keep them away from household pets, such as dogs, who can go into kidney failure from eating them. If you have dogs, it may be better to skip the grapes.


Suet is a great option for fat-loving birds to eat, such as woodpeckers and nuthatches. It’s especially helpful to birds during the colder months as it is more energy-dense.

You can purchase suet or even make your own. Suet is rendered animal fat that often has seeds added to it. To make suet, you’ll need to render beef fat, which you can get from most butchers, and then allow it to cool in containers or molds. Add materials such as peanut butter, dried fruit, or birdseed to the mix.


To attract hummingbirds to your yard, you’ll want to supply nectar. Other birds enjoy this, including orioles.

You can purchase nectar to put in a specialized feeder, or you can make your own nectar. To make nectar, mix 1 part white sugar to 4 parts water, and boil until the sugar is dissolved. Allow the solution to cool before you add it to your hummingbird feeder.

Providing different food options

3. Clean Your Feeders

Make sure you regularly clean your bird feeders. This helps keep residue as well as substances like fecal material from building up, which can make the birds visiting you sick.

4. Natural Landscaping

Plant some native species of plants around your yard that provide seeds or attract insects to your yard. This can attract more birds to your yard, such as warblers, which only eat insects rather than the seeds you might be offering. Make sure you don’t add insecticides to your plants, which can be harmful and won’t allow natural pollinators, which might also feed your birds.

5. Provide a Variety of Feeders

Make sure that for your feeding options, you have a variety of different bird feeders to attract birds. You might utilize a cage feeder for suet in one area of your yard, while you have a regular seed bird feeder in another. Placing a saucer out may also attract other birds.

Making Sure Your Yard Offers Birds Shelter

Offering shelter and nesting sites can also keep birds coming around. They need protection from possible threats such as neighborhood cats and other predators.

1. Landscape for the Birds

Fill your yard with bird-friendly landscaping options, such as bushes and trees that are native to your area of the country. You can even use some plants that will also provide food to birds as a way to make them do “double-duty,” so to speak.

Make sure there is some distance between areas that cats or other predators may hide and your bird feeder(s), so that your birds will have a chance to escape the threat, if necessary.

Landscape for the birds

2. Brush Piles

Make a brush pile in your yard for small birds, such as finches and sparrows. If they feel threatened, these birds will tend to flock to brush piles for protection. Brush piles can also encourage ground-dwelling insects to gravitate to them, which insect-loving birds can then pick from.

3. Bird Houses

You can also add bird houses to your yard. Depending on the types of birds you’re trying to attract, there are different sized bird houses, with different shapes and sizes of the entrance holes. Make sure these provide protection from predators, as well.

4. Nesting Material

Another beneficial thing you can do is provide nesting material for various birds. Small twigs are preferred by some species, while others pad their nest with grass clippings. Hummingbirds prefer softer substrates to line their nests with, such as lint. If you trim or brush out your dog, pet fur can be an excellent choice for many birds to place in their nests.

In Summary

There are lots of easy to implement things that you can do to attract birds to your yard. Making sure they have a safe space to come will slowly encourage more and more birds to gravitate to your yard. Many birds are nosy, so as they hear other birds coming to your yard, you’ll often start to see others mosey their way on over.

Make sure you keep your water sources and bird feeders cleaned regularly, so that the numerous birds you’ll start to have visiting you don’t share germs with each other and get sick.

If you’re not noticing an influx of birds, assess the surroundings of your backyard. Is there enough cover to protect shy birds? Are some regular visitors bullying newcomers, in which case you might need to set up extra feeders in your yard?

After birds start flocking to your yard, make sure you’ve got a comfortable seat to sit back and watch nature’s beauty.

Join the discussion