Sep 27, 2017 | Featured in: Watching Backyard Birds, October 2017

Is There Such a Thing as Too Many Bird Feeders?

Find a balance in your feeding operation. Deploy a number of feeders that you won't mind cleaning at least monthly.
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This is a question that birdfeeding enthusiasts have asked themselves and others over the decades. Since backyard bird-feeding exploded as an activity in the early 1980s with the advent of commercially produced feeders and commercially packaged bird seed (along with the development of black-oil sunflower seed as a bird-feeding staple) we've all expanded our backyard offerings to include more varieties of seed/food and feeders. But is there such a thing as too many feeders? I think the answer is yes. Let me explain.

Variety is not only the spice of life, it's also the spice of bird feeding. If you want to attract the maximum number of birds and the widest possible guild of species to your backyard, you have to add new and different things to attract them. Specialty feeders such as suet, peanut, fruit, nectar, and mixed-seed feeders are designed to appeal to certain species while often excluding others. The only "fly in the ointment" here is when the maintenance of your feeder menagerie becomes too much for you to handle effectively.

This can result in feeders that are unhealthy for the birds you love. Even well-maintained feeding stations can become disease vectors in wet, humid weather because of the concentrations of birds, food, and the waste that comes out of birds that eat the food. A feeder covered in bird droppings is both unsightly and unhealthy. But let's not dwell on that topic or image too long.

My advice to you is this: Find a balance in your feeding operation. Deploy a number of feeders that you won't mind cleaning at least monthly (and more often in wet, bad weather and extra poopy conditions). Is that five feeders? Three? Ten? It's up to you. But please bear in mind that the glamorous part of bird feeding is the actual feeding. And yet it's no good for the birds without the unglamorous part: the cleaning and disinfection of your feeders so the birds (and you) can lead healthy, happy lives.

I'll climb down off the editorial soapbox now. Happy bird feeding!



About Bill Thompson, III

Bill Thompson, III, was the team captain for Watching Backyard Birds from its inception 23 years ago through his death on March 25, 2019. So much of what he wrote is timeless and remains informative, helpful, and inspiring.

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  • I have the same situation. The feeder is attached to the middle of a large picture window that goes ceiling to floor w/ no ledge or sill for animals to climb or balance. Yet every morning all the sunflower seeds have been cracked open and hulls left. Any ideas what it is?
    by Liza Fox, Sun, 15 Nov 2020
  • I have a bird feeder that sticks to my window and I've been hearing noises against the window at night right now its going on. But whatever it is it is aware of me. And when I get to window it leaves.I can't imagine a squirrel or mouse or possom being able to get at it. ...So as I was reading this article im to assume no bird eats at night. Or no birds will eat at night. Why is that? Then im also thinking of a sinereo that could a lost confused bird eat at night. This eating thing is watching meI turn out the light go there noise dissappears..Thank you.
    by Nosferatu, Thu, 05 Nov 2020
  • I have metal baffles (cones) on my pole for my bird feeders. Something is still tempting them at night. What else could it be? Deer???
    by Ella Spencer Connolly, Thu, 27 Aug 2020
  • I found where he lives, then I keep him up all day by singing at full volume! Hah, that'll show the little sucker!
    by Pike Juan, Tue, 11 Aug 2020
  • I never knew feeding birds could be so confusing. I love watching the birds in my backyard even though I don't get a very big variety.
    by JustMyOpinion, Sun, 26 Jul 2020