Your Wild Birds Guide

What Should You Know About
Refilling Bird Feeders?

How & When do You Refill Bird Feeders?

A site visitor asked:

I would like to know when and how to refill a bird feeder so I can figure out how often I need to go out and not only buy food supply but I also need to know when I must refill it as well.

I'm also having trouble determining a routine, so to speak, and I would love your help to figure this out. So can you please help me with my problem?

When to Refill a Feeders?

A feeder can be filled as soon as it is low in seed but not completely empty. If it is left empty for too long, the birds who have been regular visitors may find a different place to dine.

It will also be important to clean out all the seed occasionally so there is nothing left in corners to decay. This would cause a health issue for the wild birds if they eat rotten food.

If you put food out for your wild birds at roughly the same time everyday and ring a bell or make some other noise, they will become accustomed to this routine and eagerly wait for your daily visit.

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What Time of Day Should Feeders be Filled?

Ideally it is best to have your feeders full when the birds arrive first thing in the morning. They are eager to fill their bellies when the sun begins to rise after having spent the night without any food.

Cardinals are often the first ones at the feeder in the morning and the last ones to have dinner. Maybe they feel the cover of a little darkness is safer or perhaps beating the rush is the goal.

A feeder can be filled any time during the day. It does not have to be the same time each day either.

The birds will not be deterred by your presence. In fact Chickadees and Nuthatches will likely sit close by on a pole or nearby branches while you refill the feeders.  

Can Birds Be Trained When Re-filling Feeders?

You can train birds to come to a feeder at the same time each day. Choose a time you are most likely to be consistent at keeping. Don't worry about missing a day here and there as it will not make a difference, they will still come.

Put out a special food each day such as meal worms for Bluebirds, fruit for Orioles or suet works well too.

Each day ring a bell, clap your hands or do something similar. 

Placing the food in an open feeder works best like a platform, or table feeder.

Then step inside and watch. You may not get action right away but within a week of doing this everyday at the same time you will have prompt visitors.

If you would like to step it up a little. After they are coming regularly, don't go inside, but wait at the door. Don't make sudden moves, but you can speak quietly to your visitors. 

Hold your arm out at a comfortable level with a treat in your hand. They probably won't take it from your hand for a couple of days, but if you are patient, they will come.

As you feel they are trusting you, stop closer to the feeder. Always maintain a distance from the feeder to allow the really shy birds to enjoy your special treats too. But the bolder ones will gladly come to clean-up your hand offering.

How to Refill a Feeder?

A funnel will be helpful to prevent a mess by spilling the seed. A funnel with a long neck 2 to 4 inches long and a wide mouth about 2 inches wide will make filling much easier. 

Put the funnel in the opening of the feeder and use a scoop (just a plastic container will do) to pour the seed into the funnel. 

I made a funnel from a spray bottle by simply cutting the top and bottom off. The mouth of this refitted bottle fits nicely inside my tube feeders and my chalet feeders. 

The body of the bottle is wide enough to allow the seed to be  poured in without making a mess and wasting the seed.

Seed Feeder Cleaners ~ My Top Picks

This brush has a nice end for cleaning corners of chalet feeders.

This one has a nice foam end for getting into the corners at the bottom of tube feeders.

A good long brush for tube feeders.

Good for "poop" build-up.

Bird Poop Remover Wet Wipes

I love using wipes to clean the perches often. They make it so easy.

How Often to Buy Bird Food?

This will depend on how quickly the birds eat your seed. If you have a lot of visitors to your feeders you can go through a great deal of seed. 

When I fill my feeders if I do not have enough left in the bag to make another refill, then I put bird seed, etc on my shopping list.

For suet I always make sure I have a back-up on hand.

Discover Different Types of Bird Feeders

  • Platform feeders are often referred to as tray feeders, table feeders or fly thru feeders. They are appropriately named "fly thru" because they are open allowing the birds to fly in, grab what they like and go.
  • Ground Bird Feeder - A ground birdfeeder can be simply a patch of ground scattered with seed. But using a well-designed ground feeder will save your seed from waste.
  • Suet Feeders are a fantastic energy source for wild birds keeping them warm in winter and giving them the fuel they need for activities like territorial defence, mating, raising young.

All About Bird Feeders

  • How to Clean Seed Feeders When we make the decision to draw wild birds to our backyards with feeders, baths or houses we also, whether we first realize it or not, must be committed to keeping them clean. 
  • We're Moving!? How to plan for a move from your home where you feed backyard birds without causing your bird feeder visitors undue stress? 
  • Take the Bird Feeder Quiz We can learn so much from taking quizzes that test our knowledge. You may be surprised at how much you know and have fun doing it too. 
  • Bird Feeders FAQ Check out what other bird watchers are curious about and discover the answers to questions that are often very common among backyard birders. Throw your helpful ideas in too.   

> > How to Refill Bird Feeders?

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