how high hang bird feeder

Sparrows, juncos, and towhees usually feed on the ground, while finches and cardinals feed in shrubs, and chickadees, titmice, and woodpeckers feed in trees. To avoid crowding and to attract the greatest variety of species, provide table-like feeders for ground-feeding birds, hopper or tube feeders for shrub and treetop feeders, and suet feeders well off the ground for woodpeckers, nuthatches, and chickadees.

A diverse mix of seeds will attract the greatest variety of birds. To avoid waste, offer different seeds in different feeders. Black oil sunflower seed appeals to the greatest number of birds. Offer sunflower seeds, nyjer (thistle) seeds, and peanuts in separate feeders. When using blends, choose mixtures containing sunflower seeds, millet, and cracked corn—the three most popular types of birdseed. Birds that are sunflower specialists will readily eat the sunflower seed and toss the millet and corn to the ground, to be eaten by ground-feeding birds such as sparrows and juncos. Mixtures of peanuts, nuts, and dried fruit attract woodpeckers, nuthatches, and titmice. A relatively few species prefer milo, wheat, and oats, which are featured in less expensive blends.

Suet (beef fat) attracts insect-eating birds such as woodpeckers, wrens, chickadees, nuthatches, and titmice. Place the suet in special feeders or net onion bags at least five feet from the ground to keep it out of the reach of dogs. Do not put out suet during hot weather as it can turn rancid; also, dripping fat can damage natural waterproofing on bird feathers.

Peanut butter is a good substitute for suet in the summer. Mix one part peanut butter with five parts corn meal and stuff the mixture into holes drilled in a hanging log or into the crevices of a large pinecone. This all-season mixture attracts woodpeckers, chickadees, titmice, and occasionally warblers.

Fruit specialists such as robins, waxwings, bluebirds, and mockingbirds rarely eat birdseed. To attract these birds, soak raisins and currants in water overnight, then place them on a table feeder, or purchase blends with a dried fruit mixture. To attract orioles and tanagers, skewer halved oranges onto a spike near other feeders, or supply nectar feeders.

Make a sugar solution of one part white sugar to four parts water. Boil briefly to sterilize and dissolve sugar crystals; no need to add red food coloring. Feeders must be washed every few days with very hot water and kept scrupulously clean to prevent the growth of mold.

Store seed in metal garbage cans with secure lids to protect it from squirrels and mice. Keep the cans in a cool, dry location; avoid storing in the heat. Damp seeds may grow mold that can be fatal to birds. Overheating can destroy the nutrition and taste of sunflower seeds. For these reasons, it’s best not to keep seed from one winter to the next.

Squirrels are best excluded by placing feeders on a pole in an open area. Pole-mounted feeders should be about five feet off the ground and protected by a cone-shaped baffle (at least 17 inches diameter) or similar obstacle below the feeder. Locate pole-mounted feeders at least 10 feet from the nearest shrub, tree, or other tall structure. Squirrel feeders stocked with blends that are especially attractive to squirrels and chipmunks can reduce competition for high-priced foods offered at bird feeders. Place squirrel feeders far from bird feeders to further reduce competition.

In the United States, approximately one billion birds die each year from flying into windows. Protect birds from collisions by placing feeders within three feet of windows, if possible. Mobiles and opaque decorations hanging outside windows also help to prevent bird strikes. Or attach fruit tree netting outside windows to deflect birds from the glass.

Cats kill hundreds of millions of birds annually in the United States, often pouncing on ground-feeding birds and those dazed by window collisions. Responsible and caring cat owners keep their cats indoors, where they are also safer from traffic, disease, and fights with other animals. Outdoor cats are especially dangerous to birds in the spring when fledglings are on the ground. Bells on cat collars are usually ineffective for deterring predation.

Uneaten seed can become soggy and grow deadly mold. Empty and clean feeders twice a year (spring and fall), or more often if feeders are used during humid summers. Using a long-handled bottlebrush, scrub with dish detergent and rinse with a powerful hose; then soak in a bucket of 10 percent non-chlorine bleach solution, rinse well, and dry in the sun. In early spring, rake up spilled grain and sunflower hulls.

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Best Bird Feeder Heights

The ideal height for a bird feeder is where the birds feel most at ease and familiar to locate their favorite foods. A comfortable height for the feeder will also probably draw in more species and support a more diverse flock of birds. For common backyard birds, the most popular bird feeder heights are:

  • Cardinals and finches feed at lower altitudes, about eye level, at a distance of five to six feet.
  • Woodpeckers (feed higher in trees) – 6–10 feet
  • Hummingbirds (feed from flowering bushes and vines) – 3–6 feet
  • Sparrows and towhees (ground feeders) – 1–5 feet
  • Chickadees and titmice (mid-level tree feeders) – 5–10 feet
  • Bluebirds (mid-levels and ground feeding) – 5–7 feet
  • Orioles (feed in bushes and trees) – 6–10 feet

The heights of bird feeders can be very freely chosen. It’s common to see birds at feeders that are either higher or lower than their potential natural feeding locations. The majority of bird feeders are placed five to six feet above the ground, which is ideal for many of the most common backyard birds.

Uneaten seed can become soggy and grow deadly mold. Clean and empty feeders twice a year in the spring and fall, or more frequently if they are used in the sultry summer months. Scrub with dish soap and rinse with a strong hose while using a long-handled bottlebrush. Soak in a bucket of 10% non-chlorine bleach solution, then thoroughly rinse and let dry in the sun. In early spring, rake up spilled grain and sunflower hulls.

Every year, about one billion birds in the United States perish as a result of flying into windows. If at all possible, place feeders three feet away from windows to prevent bird collisions. In addition to mobiles, opaque decorations hung outside windows also deter birds from striking windows. Alternatively, hang fruit tree netting outside windows to keep birds away from the glass.

Mix one part white sugar to four parts water to make a sugar solution. Sugar crystals can be sterilized and dissolved by briefly boiling them; red food coloring is not necessary. Feeders need to be meticulously cleaned and washed in extremely hot water every few days to stop the growth of mold.

In the summer, peanut butter works well in place of suet. Combine one part peanut butter with five parts corn meal, then insert the mixture into the cracks in a large pinecone or the holes drilled in a hanging log. This all-season mixture attracts woodpeckers, chickadees, titmice, and occasionally warblers.

Insect-eating birds like woodpeckers, wrens, chickadees, nuthatches, and titmice are drawn to suet (beef fat). To keep the suet out of dogs’ reach, place it in special feeders or net onion bags that are at least five feet off the ground. Suet can go rancid in hot weather, so avoid leaving it outside. Additionally, dripping fat can harm the natural waterproofing on bird feathers.

Why Birds Feed at Different Heights

Birds utilize a variety of food sources and are adapted to fit into various niches. This indicates that they eat at different heights where those foods are most readily available and easiest to find naturally. For example, many birds that eat seeds prefer to feed on the ground or lower in bushes and shrubbery because that’s where they’re most likely to find seeds. Wherever fruit ripens, from the middle of berry bushes to the top of fruit-bearing trees, is where fruit-eating birds find food.

Many birds consume insects, which can grow to a variety of heights. While gnats and other flying insects are found higher up in plant foliage, grubs, ants, and larvae are typically found lower down.

For the most part, birds do not adhere to strict guidelines regarding feeding height; if something catches their attention, they will readily feed at varying levels. Birds can readily adapt to varying feeder heights and frequently alter their diets based on the foods that are available at different times.

Tufted Titmouse eating seed from the ground / Shutterstock


How high should you hang a bird feeder?

It’s not unusual to find birds at feeders that may be higher or lower than where they might naturally feed. Most bird feeders are positioned at 5-6 feet, and that suits many of the most popular backyard birds perfectly.

Where is the best place to put a hanging bird feeder?

Positioning feeders in open areas with good views from favorite windows will help you more easily spot every feathered visitor. You should also make them easily accessible for refilling and cleaning. Don’t place them in areas where too much mess and spillage underneath the feeders might become a problem.

Can bird feeders be hung low?

Bird feeders are best hung in a place where your visiting birds feel safe from predators. Most important: Avoid open and noisy areas and hang your bird feeders at eye level or a little above. Do not hang feeders too close to any place where squirrels can jump on them, or too low they are within a cat’s reach.

Do hummingbirds like their feeders high or low?

As a rule of thumb, try to keep your feeder anywhere from five to six feet from the ground. Remember that hummingbirds don’t naturally feed on treetops, so hanging it too high can discourage feeding. Alternatively, placing your feeder too low on the ground can present other threats as well.