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In the ‘Since you asked for it’ section in every issue of BirdWatching, editor Julie Craves answers readers’ questions about birds and their behaviour. Here’s a question from our January/February 2019 issue.
Q: I was getting so many large birds in my bird feeder that I replaced it with a cage feeder. But now even small birds no longer come to the feeder with the cage around. What should I do? — Patti Emmons, Santa Rosa, CA.
A: It looks like you placed your new feeder in the same location as the old one. It’s great, because the place is already associated with food. Ideally, the feeder is in a location where shelter from predators is easy nearby so that the small birds you hope to attract will feel safe. Note that you may need to be patient if the feeder looks very different from the familiar old feeder or if the smaller birds have been intimidated by the larger ones coming in. And keep in mind that during nesting season the birds are busy feeding their young insects and don’t use the feeders as often. The same can apply in the fall or early winter when natural food sources are plentiful.
Since most feeder visitors use visual cues to locate a food source, you can try sprinkling a few seeds under the feeder or on a nearby platform, but do so sparingly and only for a short time so that rodents or unwanted bird species do not come. a habit of visiting. Finally, be sure to use fresh, high-quality seeds. If the seed is stale or less nutritious and the birds have tried it, they may not return.
Check out a list of feeders that keep larger birds and squirrels away