Many of us find watching birds at home feeders to be a convenient and impactful way to connect with nature. It can be a relatively simple activity and even feeders located in urban settings can attract vibrant and engaging visitors.

Planning to set out resources like food and water for your backyard birds? Follow these tips and best practices to keep birds well-fed, safe, and sheltered:

  • Supplemental feed during high-stress times like winter is most beneficial for many birds. If you leave feeders out in the winter, try to fill them regularly. Some birds may come to rely on this food source to get them through the challenging season.
  • Like us, birds need food, water and shelter. You can lend a hand by providing high-quality seed, fresh drinking and bathing water, and habitat such as nest boxes and native plantings.
  • Bird feeders can pose risks to our flighted visitors including window collisions. In the United States, approximately 1 billion birds die from flying into windows each year. You can reduce this risk by placing feeders either less than three feet from a window or more than 30 feet away. You can also use window decals or decorations placed no more than 2-4 inches apart. (Birds will try to fly through larger gaps.) 
  • To attract a variety of bird species, use a variety of feed. Suet will attract insect-eating birds such as woodpeckers and chickadees. Fresh fruit will be highly desired by waxwings and orioles. And specialized nectar feeders give hummingbirds a much-needed sugar boost.
  • Regardless of the type or number of feeders you set out, be sure to clean them! Feeders and bird baths can be disease reservoirs and increase the risk of spread through local populations. Empty and scrub feeders and baths with a 5 percent bleach solution once every two weeks and let them dry completely before filling again. Fill baths with fresh water daily if possible.
  • Lastly, be sure to keep your feline pets indoors. Cats kill hundreds of millions of birds annually in the U.S. and are a leading cause of bird declines. These stealthy predators pose a real threat to countless bird species. Keep your cats indoors for their safety and the well-being of neighborhood bird populations.

There are many ways we can be heroes for wildlife in our own backyards. Spending time connecting with and learning from the natural world is a great way we can all take action on behalf of the species we treasure.