How to attract birds to a window feeder (six simple tips)

One of my favourite things we’ve done with the kids, and also as a kid myself many years ago, was to feed the garden birds.  I can spend ages just watching them and the kids can too – a great way to bring nature in when it’s cold outside or a bit rainy!  We’ve recently been experimenting with a window bird feeder at our house and wanted to give some tips on how to get birds to come to it.

Window bird feeders are a little bit different than regular bird tables and feeders.  A lot of people have asked me if window bird feeders are any good – my answer: YES!  Once birds get used to it and providing it’s in a good location, window bird feeders are a great way to see birds up close from the comfort of your home.  Kids especially love the fact they can observe so much easier without needing binoculars.



My tips for attracting birds to a window feeder

Buy a good quality feeder

There are a few different window feeders around, some quite small and plastic-y, and some much better quality.  If you can go for the best quality you can afford – the cheaper ones can easily fall off your window and once you attract the birds you don’t want to scare them off straight away.  I like this one (shown above), but there are a few in that price range that are good.  Check out the reviews to make sure it has been tested well!


If you don’t want to buy a specific feeder there are a few alternatives for you.  You could always try and hang a fat ball or a normal bird feeder in front of your window – see if you can hook some on to your window frame or similar.  Failing that, get a stand that can hang bird feeders on and simply stand it close to your window.  Should work just as well!  And if you want to go really low tech and also have a windowsill that’s suitable, just scatter some food on there and see if you can tempt any birds.


Choose a good location

You might think that just having the location be a random window will be enough, but do put a little bit of thought in to the best place for it.

First of all, consider where you already might have some bird feeders.  If you can place it fairly close to those it might help to attract those first birds to your feeder.  A hanging fat ball nearby might be a good idea.

Make sure that the window will feel safe for the birds – you want to make sure that there are no cat stalking places nearby like fences that might put off birds from coming.

Finally you might want to, at least while the birds get used to these feeders at your house, make sure they are on windows in less busy rooms.  A kitchen might work if it’s far enough away from people walking past all the time or kids jumping up and down!


Choose some tempting food

Think about what birds like to eat the most in your garden.  If you’re already feeding them you might already have some ideas, but if you’re new to this then here’s what I’d add in:

  • mealworms
  • sunflower seeds
  • peanuts
  • and if it’s one like above with space for fat balls that would be a great idea to add too.



Ensure it’s fixed well to the window

Many window bird feeders come with suction cups which can sometimes be a bit iffy, even without a bird perched on it!  Make sure to check any reviews of potential feeders you might buy as you’ll see whether people have had an issue with them.

Either way, you need to make sure your window is really clean before you attempt to suction on the feeder – they won’t stick well at all if your window is dusty or dirty.

When those first birds come it’s exciting and we want them to not be scared by a falling bird feeder!


Don’t sit right by the window

While these feeders are great for kids and they can be exciting for them, you’ll need to encourage them not to sit right by the window waiting for the birds to come.  If the birds spot people nearby they might get scared and not attempt to get the food, no matter how enticing!

If your kids really want to sit close, make sure they know to stay quiet and still while there.



Have some, or lots of, patience!

We’ve had window feeders that never get any birds coming to it and some that just took ages to get visitors.  Similarly, some get lucky straight away.  Do be prepared for a bit of a wait, and prepare your kids too, but also take on the tps in this guide to aim for as much chance of success as possible.



Want to get kids started with birdwatching? – Check out our post here



Why are birds not coming to my window feeders?

Sometimes window feeders just don’t work and it can be for a number of reasons.  Sometimes there’s too much glare on the windows and it scares the birds.  Sometimes it’s due to people and shadows scaring them.  It could also be simply due to them not being found yet and perhaps a bit more patience is needed.



How long does it take for birds to come to a bird feeder?

It can take a long time to get birds to notice and take a chance on your window feeder.  Or it can take a couple of hours.  It really depends on the birds in your area, whether they are used to being fed and just that off chance that a brave bird notices it.

Once you get some birds to your feeder you should find that others will come along and visit too.  It does require some patience though!




For more tips on feeding birds with kids – Check out our post here


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