How Do Birds Find Bird Feeders? Get the Facts Here!


Written by

Clinton Atkins



George Dukes

how do birds find bird feeders

How do birds find bird feeders? Birds find food using their sense of sight and hearing! There is so much more to learn about how they are able to do this.

Birders and homeowners who just started placing bird feeders in their yards can greatly benefit from knowing this piece of information. Let’s get into it.

How Do Birds Know Where Bird Feeders Are?


A few days after not having any feathered visitors in your bird feeder, you might start questioning how birds find feeders, especially when it looks nothing like the food sources they have in nature.

The feeder has no appeal to birds, but the seeds it holds are a magnet for them.

Birds are vigilant and very aware, listening and keeping a close watch on what’s happening around their surroundings. They know when food is close by using their excellent eyesight and hearing.

Birds of prey such as falcons, hawks, raptors, and kestrels are well known for their ability to spot their prey from a range of 18 meters above the ground.

It is undeniable that avians have better eyesight compared to mammals.

  • In detail, the bird’s asymmetrical eye structure allows them to simultaneously focus on the ground and the horizon.
  • They also have good color perception to notice blue, green, and blue. Their eyes are also sensitive to ultraviolet light.
  • In addition, birds’ brains process visual information better, enabling them to see fast movements.
  • Avians’ hearing is only of secondary importance compared to their incredible eyesight, but it is still impressive nonetheless. They can hear more frequencies and are capable of locating sounds.

These auditory cues are used for hunting, warming up about danger, and detecting food sources.

How Long Does It Take for Birds to Find a Bird Feeder?

The answer to this is not conclusive. Birds who find their food by sight can find your feeder for between two seconds to two months. For instance, birds find suet feeders in the winter after 2 – 4 weeks after you place the food. 

Indeed, several factors will determine where in this time period the birds will discover and dine in your feeder

  • One is how you set up your feeder. This includes the location and seeds you are offering. For new birders and bird feeder users, check below how you attract your feathered friends to find the feeder.
  • The neighborhood also influences the chances of birds finding your feeder sooner.

In suburban areas where many homes put out bird feeders, birds are more familiar with these feeders and have already associated them as a food source.

Birds learn and remember bird feeders as food sources by association. Once they get a free meal, they will return to it regularly.

In rural areas, you might need more patience and some trick to attract birds to feeders they are unfamiliar with.

Will Birds Eventually Find My Feeder?


Birds remember where feeders are. As long as you did everything you could to make your feeder appealing to birds in your area, you can expect them to find it after some time. Here are some things you can check to ensure your feeder is in top condition:

  • Visibility to the birds
  • Safe and secure placement
  • Number of feeders available
  • Type of feeder
  • Source of food

Do Birds Tell Each Other Where Food is?

Indirectly, yes. Avians are watchful, and they have impressive hearing and eyesight. When birds find seeds, you can expect them to make exciting noises and bicker. The commotion will make other birds curious and come to where the noise is coming from.

Can Birds Smell Food?

Many believe birds smell bird seed, but this is not true. As mentioned above, avians use their vision to locate food.

While they have external nares, there is no concrete proof of whether they can smell and how much of this sense they can utilize. A few bird species are said to sniff out scents but not seeds.

Why Are Birds Not Eating the Seeds in the Feeder?

Birds, in general, are picky eaters. If they stop feeding on the seeds, you filled in the feeder, and there is probably something wrong with them.

There is a chance that the seeds are already stale or soggy after being left out for too long. It can also become a home for fungi and bacteria to grow.

Make sure to clean your feeder and replace rotten seeds regularly. That way, you can keep your feathered neighbors happy and healthy.


How do birds find bird feeders? Birds do so using their remarkable eyesight and hearing. Birds are simply built with amazing abilities to detect prey and food sources, which they also use to locate a bird feeder.

It takes time for them to start dining and associating your feeder with a free meal, so be patient.

Did you find the information helpful in your search to install your bird feeder better? Share it with every new birder who might find it useful.

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