how to fill a bird feeder

tube bird feeders for beginners Photo: Don DeBold/Flickr/CC by 2.0

I am out to install a bird feeder in my backyard. I am new to bird feeding, but I’ve been trying to do it for some time now.

From a search online, I learned that the best feeder for beginners is a tube bird feeder. This type of feeder attracts a wide variety of birds and is easy to install and maintain.

I embarked on a quest to learn about tube bird feeders; here, I share what I’ve learned.

One advantage of tube bird feeders is that the seed or content is protected from the elements keeping it dry, clean, and fresh for longer periods.

How do tube bird feeders work?

The way tube feeders work is rather simple and intuitive.

The ports, which each have a perch, are where birds access the seed. Ports are often found at the bottom of the tube or along its lower half.

Through gravity, more seed replenishes the ports as it is consumed. To fill a tube feeder, unscrew the top cap and transfer bird food into the tube.

What bird foods should I offer?

Always keep cats inside, and don’t forget to provide the right food for the season from a clean feeder that is kept a safe distance from windows.

Winter (when natural foods are less abundant)

  • Black-oil sunflower seeds are small and have thin shells that are easy for small birds to crack open. They are high in fat, making them a good source of energy.
  • White Proso Millet: high in protein content
  • Peanuts: Provide in peanut-specific metal mesh feeders in the form of tubes; for peanut hearts, use a feeder with smaller apertures.
  • Commercially produced suet cakes, which come in vegetarian options as well, fit the standard-size suet feeder.
  • To prevent the nyjer seed from spilling out, use a tube feeder with tiny holes for goldfinches.
  • Medium-sized cracked corn is best because finer varieties will soon become mushy and coarser varieties are too big for small-beaked birds to eat.


  • For spring feeding, a variety of birdseed varieties are good options, but you may also think about providing fruit for songbirds. (If you use fruit, make sure to take out any spoiled or leftover pieces.) Moreover, you can provide baked and rinsed crushed eggshells, which give birds like robins calcium.
  • It’s nesting season in the spring, so you can provide natural materials like twigs, small sticks, straw, and other plant materials (e.g., g. moss, bark strips, pine needles, leaves, stems, cottontail fluff, cottonwood down, grass, or yard trimmings (as long as they are free of fertilizer and pesticides) Offer only natural materials, such as acrylic yarn, that birds might naturally come across.
  • Over 90% of songbirds depend on insects to feed their young during the spring and summer breeding seasons. For adult birds, you can still provide feeders, but insects are essential to the survival of nestlings and fledglings. Insecticide use should be completely avoided or drastically reduced as it may hinder adult birds from finding enough insects to feed their young.


Limit to nyjer seed for goldfinches and nectar for hummingbirds (refer to these guidelines).

When giving out feed during the hot and muggy summer months, be sure to keep the seed dry. The seed may release poisons that are toxic to birds if it becomes moldy. To prevent the bird seed from sitting for extended periods of time, try filling feeders halfway or less!


Offer millet, peanuts, peanut butter and suet cakes.

Where should I put bird feeders?

Wherever they feel safe from predators—including roaming cats—birds are most likely to feed. Set feeders 12 feet away from bushes, trees, or brush piles. Predators are unable to conceal themselves within striking distance of the feeder, but birds can swiftly fly the distance of 12 feet to reach safe cover. Place thorny branches or chicken wire around ground-level feeders for additional protection.


How often should I refill my bird feeder?

Change the seed in a dry seed feeder every 5-7 days to avoid mold, bacteria, or bugs in the feeders and always wash your hands after handling bird supplies and feeders.

Should I fill my bird feeder every day?

Refilling is also a matter of preference. You can refill your feeders frequently or sporadically. Some people refill their feeders multiple times a day (especially during the nesting season) , many do it once a week, and others refill them once a month.

How do birds know when you fill the feeder?

Birds almost exclusively find food by sight. With almost no sense of smell, birds rely on their keen senses of sight and sound to locate food sources. So, if a bird catches sight of a feeder containing a familiar food source, they will likely stop for a bite to eat.