I had written before about my attempts at Hand Feeding Birds. Basically, I did what the Hugh Wiberg book had recommended and went through the process of gradually moving closer to my feeders until the birds were comfortable enough to make some attempts. This involved a lot of sitting in freezing cold temperatures and patience. Deep down, I believed there had to be a better way. I had a breakthrough this week which has changed my outlook on hand feeding birds forever.
They Have To Want The Food
I have had my feeders down during the day for a while to reduce my house finch eye disease problem. In the early evening, I’ve been putting the feeders back up and a small ceramic dish on my patio with hulled peanuts and sunflower seeds. I noticed that even after the feeders were up my titmice were coming down for peanuts. I decided I would try to stand by my feeder pole with the peanuts before I put the feeders up. Bingo!
After a little complaining and fighting with each other, a titmouse decided to land on the feeder arms and stare me down. I tried my best to not move, and stare forward. This is a lot easier said than done when it’s 90 degrees outside and the mosquitoes are getting curious. Still, I held my ground. He moved from one arm to the other until he finally hopped onto the dish I was holding and stared me down again. No movement. Finally, he selected his peanut piece and casually flew away. Within a couple minutes he was back and repeated for me.
He did the same thing the next evening but this time one of his friends decided to give it a go. It’s amazing how one bird deciding to trust you can influence the others. I’ve read this before in other hand feeding accounts.
My Biggest Surprise
Chickadees and titmice are supposed to be near the top of the list of potential hand feeding. My earlier attempts only interested chickadees. Now, they seem the least interested. I’m hoping eventually the chickadees will come around.
Summer is the time that abounds with other food sources for your backyard birds. Nobody is going to become malnourished if your feeders are down. Try taking down your feeders for a day or two and then select hulled peanuts or sunflower chips and go stand by your most active feeder pole either in the morning or early evening. Stand still. If nobody is interested, back up a little from the pole and wait again. Sometimes they just like to have a buffer between where they land to check you out and your dish. Give them that space. I would only try backing up two or three times before I quit for the day. The chances are that somebody will notice you and give it a go. If you can’t get any interest after three days then this will probably not work for you in your backyard at this time of year.
Quick Tip: If mosquitoes are a problem in your backyard this time of year but you hate spraying down, try wetting a paper napkin down and tucking the corner into your pants pocket. Don’t soak it or it will wet your clothing anyway. This will drastically reduce the interest the mosquitoes have in you. If you need more help, wet down another napkin. You can save them and reuse them for the next night.
I’m going to try to get some video of this to post on my site. In the mean time, let me know if you’ve had success hand feeding birds using this or any method this summer and leave me a comment. I’d love to hear from you.