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September 24, 2009


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The Zen Birdfeeder

Cathy, sometimes it just takes time for birds to get used to a new feeder. You've done the right things; hopefully by now the birds have found it!


I bought a Droll Yankees Yankee Tipper about 4 weeks ago. It is spring here in the South and I have NO BIRDS on my feeder. The previous feeders have been destroyed by squirrels, so I bought this thinking the squirrels would not bother it, and they aren't, but either are the birds. I have lived here 8 years and we ALWAYS have had birds in the past and lots of them. There are no changes in our yard, no pets and yes, the feeder is clean, new and filled with bird seed. I hung the new feeder in the same place as the old one. I called Yankee and they suggested I fill it half way and spill some seed on the bottom, which I had already tried, didn't make a difference. Please help!

The Zen Birdfeeder

Pam, If the feeder is 4-5 feet off the ground, that is ideal. Sometimes patience is needed when introducing feeders to the yard the very first time. I like to say it might take 2 minutes, 2 hours, 2 days, 2 weeks for birds to find a new feeder.
Tie a ribbon to it to call it out to overhead birds. Move it slightly to see if they prefer another location. Shake the feeder to be sure the seed is loose, and refill it if the seed starts to mold.
Good luck and keep us posted!


I got a new feeder yesterday and no birds yet .I used Midwest bird seed and a cage is over the feeder .it's not very high up would that make a different?

The Zen Birdfeeder

Deb, probably #3 above. The moderate weather and natural food sources are keeping birds in the mid-Atlantic from visiting birdfeeders. With cold temps, as well as snow and/or ice, they'll return!

The Zen Birdfeeder

Anne-Marie, could be that they just need to find it and/or get used to it. Sometimes birds find feeders fast, sometimes it takes a while.
When trying to attract cardinals though, which are ground feeders, the birdfeeder needs to have an adequate perching area for them to feel comfortable. Even then, some individual cardinals just never get used to feeding off the ground.
The shininess has nothing to do with it though. Good luck and let us know!


Hi! I had tons of all kinds of birds then they all stopped coming. I live in Pennsylvania....it's cold now and they should be stopping by. I cleaned my feeder and put black sunflower in it and hung a suet cake also. Is there anything else I can do? Help!!!!


We just moved to a house that's on a river. We have gobs of birds out here, including my very favorite: Cardinals. I had to buy squirrel-proof feeders, but the one that I bought has a shiny aluminum lid and is hardly being used. The Cardinals won't even touch it. Why? New? Shiny?

The Zen Birdfeeder

Joyce, thanks so much. I appreciate your kind comment! Please stop by often!


What a fabulous site. Thank you so much for the info.

The Zen Birdfeeder

Grace, sounds like you might have young jays that are investigating food sources. Hopefully they'll quickly find that feeder is not a good source and will free it up for the hummingbirds. Keep us posted!

The Zen Birdfeeder

Sandra, I think you may have identified the issue - inadequate perching area. Especially with the cardinals, which are ground-feeding birds by nature, they require a decent size, comfortable perch.
If you can extend the perches that would be ideal. Good luck!


My hummingbird feeder is attracting yellow /green jays. I’m all for sharing, but the jays are scaring the hummingbirds away. Is this normal? What can I do? PS. Love your site.

Sandra Shanklin

I just got two new squirrel proof birdfeeders. Using the same seed I have always used. Mixed seed
in one, sunflower in the other. With the old feeders I had many birds including lots of cardinals and bluejays. All the birds have come back to the new ones, except those two. They seen to know it is food, but just don't know how to use it. The only difference I can really tell is the perches are a tiny bit shorter. Could this make a difference? I want my redbirds and bluejays back.

The Zen Birdfeeder

Roger, sometimes when you change things up, birds take a while to get used it. They fall back on what they know! Give it some time, or remove the other feeder temporarily. Good luck and have fun feeding the birds!


I recently added a much larger bird feeder close to my original bird feeder the birds have stopped coming what should I do

The Zen Birdfeeder

Isabelle, sometimes it takes birds awhile to find new feeders and to recognize them as a food source. Spread some seed underneath the feeder and temporarily tie a ribbon around the feeder to attract their attention.
Check out this post about the Rule of 2s and hanging a new birdfeeder http://wildbirdsunlimited.typepad.com/the_zen_birdfeeder/2011/03/hanging-new-birdfeeder-rule-of-twos.html

The Zen Birdfeeder

Re Johnson, I haven't heard before about peppermint stopping bird activity. I guess time will tell.
What we find is that sometimes a change of routine (a different feeder) takes awhile for the birds to adjust to. They may not recognize it as a source of food.
Be patient, and keep the seed dry and loose. Fill the feeder only halfway until they start to use it.
Good luck!

isabelle reali

I put bird feeders out for the first time yesterday and they all but not today. I thought maybe the food was old so I threw it out and bought new but no birds at all.

Re Johnson

We have had birds of about 7 species coming in for five years, now nothing , I added a brand new feeder filled with top notch seed , still not a chirp , peep or peck. What I think : I poured strong peppermint oil all around the house ( stops mice) a couple of weeks ago. But there is a hummingbird feeder 15 ft from bird seed and we have hummingbirds coming in all day. We miss our feeding birds.

The Zen Birdfeeder

John, thank you for your sincere concern for the birds!
Bleach is perfectly safe to use to clean birdfeeders when used in the proper dilution (9-10 parts water to 1 part bleach) and thoroughly rinsed. Water is fine for that rinse.
I also strongly recommend a good drying in the sun as well.
Bleach will kill bacteria and mold, so it is a good option for cleaning birdfeeders.
Enjoy the birds!

John H

I wouldn't have thought bleach, even in the diluted solution, would be ok to use to clean the feeder. Bleach just makes me nervous, knowing how powerful it is. Is there anything else that would be safe to use and effective, or would just a very thorough rinsing after cleaning be sufficient to remove the bleach? Thank you.

The Zen Birdfeeder

Ilisa, the raccoon scent might affect the squirrel's interest in the feeder, but I wouldn't think the scent alone would keep the birds away.


I have a large box mounted outside my window filled with bird seed. Both birds and squirrels had been enjoying it all day. For the last ten nights a raccoon comes and sits in the box and eats. Now the birds and squirrels have stopped visiting. Is it possible the scent of the raccoon is keeping them away?

The Zen Birdfeeder

Julie, if you have an identical feeder filled with identical food, it's probably the location they're not liking as much as the other locations. Try moving it a little to try to find a location they like.

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