When You Need a New Bird Feeder


The birds just might let you know. They come to depend on a steady supply of seed and may fly up to the window to let you know when times are lean. I have two damaged feeders which don’t hold the seed very well any longer, so I thought the birds needed a new “restaurant.”

When a new restaurant opens, it advertises to get customers, but how do you promote a new bird feeder to the garden clientele?


You might think when the snow falls and everything is covered under a white blanket, the birds might try a new restaurant.


But that is not always the case. They like things as they have always been. Since the squirrels damaged my other feeders after six years of use, I decided to get one they can’t destroy. But the birds want nothing to do with it.


I tried sprinkling seed on the ground to make the feeder look like it was being used. I tied a red ribbon to the perch to make it look like a bird might be visiting.


I moved the new feeder to an established and preferred feeding spot. The birds just congregate by the empty feeder but just don’t come to the new feeder.


I have heard that it sometimes takes a long while for birds to accept a new feeder, but never once before has this happened with any feeder I had here previously.


EVER! I get many of the same birds year after year also, the little leucistic Sparrow, one of now four that returns to raise a family and stay through winter. I like to keep the regular birds coming back.


I will have a post on the leucistic family sometime this winter.


I called Wild Birds Unlimited twice about this and they said just wait. Honestly, I am getting tired of waiting with hungry birds to feed. Even the squirrels are not interested in the new feeder. But they all like the seed from Wild Birds Unlimited!


I just can’t get them to use The Eliminator.



I have read online others having the same problem with tube feeders purchased from Wild Birds Unlimited. Other folks love them. It is still too early for my review because not getting birds to use it, I have little I can say.


I almost wish the squirrels would give it a try. I am not getting as much backyard entertainment… but the bird bath is active at least.



About Garden Walk Garden Talk

I love to photograph, paint, draw, design, garden, travel the world, and pass on a few tips and ideas that I learned through experience as a Master Gardener and architect. I am highly trained in my field and enjoy my work each and every day. I garden in Niagara Falls, NY in zone 6-B. Find me at: http://gardenwalkgardentalk.com
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81 Responses to When You Need a New Bird Feeder

  1. alesiablogs says:

    I would say, “You can’t teach old dogs new tricks!” But these aren’t dogs~!

  2. Huh, that’s interesting. I stopped filling the feeders when we had a Cooper’s Hawk here during the summer. The birds had plenty of food from plants, bushes, bugs, and trees anyway. Then when the deep snow and bitter cold hit, I refilled the feeders with fresh seed, and the birds went wild! I think I’ll do that next summer/winter, too. Have you tried putting Coneflower seed heads underneath the feeder? That seemed to attract some interest for the birds here. Just a thought. Good luck!

    • I told Birds Unlimited I stop most summer feeding and they all but scolded me. I see no point since birds are raising young and mostly capturing insects. I resume at the end of summer to help fatten them up for migration. I also feed in Spring to help get them in breeding condition. I was surprised the very knowledgeable sales help was not pleased that I forgo two months of summer feeding. I have hundreds of birds here, but it is difficult to get a photo of them all when I am outside like I was for the backyard winter scene. They are just avoiding the one feeder, and of course, it is the expensive one. I went the first week with all feeders removed but this one and the birds waited me out. I finally gave in and put back the damaged feeders. As for coneflower heads, I grow quite a bit of it and let it stand through winter, so that would not help get them to this feeder. The black oil sunflower seed is not even doing it. I am so disappointed, but I imagine, eventually they will start using it. I did see one brave Chickadee going back and forth all yesterday, but no other bird took the leap.

  3. That first bird looks miffed! Ha.
    It took over a year for the birds to warm up to our suet feeder which I thought was weird. Now, they’re all over it. Didn’t have that trouble with a new seed feeder though.
    Hope they like your new ‘restaurant.’

    • I know. 😀 And chickadees always look so happy too. The sales help told me the same story on their suet feeder, but that did not make me feel better after buying such a fancy feeder. They say invest in good feeders because with the warranty, you won’t be doing it again, but I am ready to get another cheapo feeder and I bet they flock to it.

  4. janechese says:

    Very interesting – and did you ever get “the look” from that chickadee!

  5. That’s difficult. We usually put seed on the top of the feeder or on any ledges but yours looks like it has none. Could you tape a piece of a thick paper plate to the outside of the feeder by the holes to hold a little spread of seed. If they come to get it, then they are likely to investigate the holes.

    • That is a good idea. I can easily do that by taking the top off and sliding the plate down to the perches. This feeder is pretty well constructed and easily comes apart for cleaning. I took off the weather guard today because I thought that might be scaring them. But, still no birds.

  6. Kevin says:

    Gorgeous photos — but I wish I had an answer for you. If the small feeder is your madly damaged one, I’m wondering if it has something to do with the different position the bird must use to feed. In the earlier picture, the bird can grasp the wire and peach through the openings. In the tube design, it looks like they have to peck at the base. Just a thought.

    • I thought since it is so long to thwart off squirrels, that maybe it was too low to the ground. I took the other feeder and put it three feet off the ground and birds came en mass. So that was not the problem. I thought the feeding holes were too high for these little birds, but then one Chickadee used it all day. So that was not the problem. I think I need just one brave sparrow to try it out. They make such a ruckus that all the others will follow. I told Birds Unlimited that I must have stupid birds and they said no that my birds are smart being so leery.

  7. I had the same problem with a new feeder this year as well. Luckily I put it up in October so a few weeks ago they started using it regularly. We take our feeders down in the summer as well. We have too many racoons in our area that do a lot of damage to the feeders (more so than the squirrels). And like you said there is enough other insects, seeds and fruits for the birds to survive on. I love the expressions on the birds faces! Excellent photography!

    • Thank you. I know I should have purchased early too. The old feeders were recently broken by the squirrels dropping the feeder to the ground. One plastic side broke where it connects, so they can be used, but the seed slips out the small hole. The Eliminator is not warrantied for racoons. They made sure to tell me that. Racoons must be very crafty to pull it apart though.

  8. Lin Celoni says:

    Did you wash your new feeder? Maybe it smells funny to them – has an oil finish that looks nice to us but smells bad to them????

  9. thomasgable says:

    Great work! The picture of the chickadee was phenomenal! Amazing work! Really enjoyed your post as I love birds and watching them in my backyard! Thanks much for sharing!!!!

    • Thank you. I too love birds. I even have a bird, a Moluccan Cockatoo, so I know very well when birds are not happy. I have a knack for getting photos of PO’ed birds. I have some female cardinals with looks to kill.

  10. :-).. Looks like the ” Eliminator” may be a fool.. Maybe in time the birds will come around. 🙂

  11. robintttt says:

    I had started feeding birds, but house sparrows started coming and eating too much of the seeds. Didn’t want to encourage their numbers so I stopped feeding. Wish I knew of a feeder that would keep them away but attract native birds.

    • There is nothing that keeps the sparrows at bay. I don’t mind them, but you are right, the feeders are always being filled because of them. Some sparrows are native too. I usually get the native ones in Spring/Summer.

  12. Great photos as usual. My favorite tonight is the first one. Love the look on that one’s face. I’ve never had a problem with any of my feeders, and I have one just like the one you posted. You’d think hungry birds wouldn’t be all that choosy. I enjoyed the post and hope they do come to enjoy that feeder. Blessings, Natalie 🙂

    • My birds went on a fast the first week. They kept coming to the window to let me know THEIR feeders were empty. It baffled me since they feel very secure around me, so why would I put out something to harm them? I am sure the birds will use it eventually, but am astounded they have not as yet.

  13. You have awesome close ups….I enjoy very much…thanks for sharing!

  14. oh my gosh this little guy has so much character

  15. ginnietom says:

    birdies paradise…so hearty…

  16. kerlund74 says:

    So cute, what a present photo:)

  17. Joe Owens says:

    These are gorgeous pictures. I envy your variety of winter visitors. We do not have a tremendous amount of days with snow on the ground, so our feeders do not get very much use. In fact a couple winters past hardly any food at all was removed.

    • The last two winters we had little snow. I look forward to snow, except for the shoveling. I used to enjoy it as exercise and quiet, but with a heart condition, I am not supposed to do it now.

      • Joe Owens says:

        My wife has a hair salon in our basement. I have purchased a Small Kubota tractor with a scraper blade due to the amount of shoveling required to keep her in business during snow events. It sure is a lot less exertion.

  18. Love that chickadee-dee-dee

  19. pepaulmier says:

    Gorgeous photos, as I type this comment I watch the chickadees and woodpeckers at our feeder. You need to be patient they will come back and try out the new feeders.

    • I hope so. The damaged ones will not be lasting much longer. The squirrels used to not bother the feeders, but if I forget to put out their critter food, they let me know by dumping the bird feeders.

  20. I have a beautiful new feeder been out there the whole year hanging from the Apple tree maybe it is time to see if they go to it now. Thanks for the reminder it is one with a tension spring to keep heavy eaters off Bright Red the bear checked it out but found it empty on 2 occasions so he left in a huff guess bears are not so picky 🙂 With over a foot of snow I scattered seed inside bushes and along edges of cover for ground feeders here so Hawks will have to feed on field mice.

    • That is a good idea, but a few species of hawk can fly right into the undercover plants. I have that here with the Sharp Shinned. I would like to see a bear visit, but it is really unlikely here. In PA, I did see black bear on occasion. In fact, I saw much more varied wildlife there.

      • My male bear is active most of the winter and we usually jump him on our walks out back into the forest along the river as long as he leaves us be we will let him be 🙂 that’s the deal at this place 🙂 I think I have a Coopers Hawk that thinks it is fine dining spot here no wonder with the amount of seed I put out.

  21. Sounds like that new feeder may need an exorcist!!! 😆 Unfortunately we don’t speak the same language to listen to their comments. They may be chirping between them on the color and design of the feeder, the scent or they may just be too fond of the old one! I hope they do start seeing it differently though soon! I have a pine tree on my balcony [believe it or not!] and I always put food for them on a branch [on a nest they’ve made a couple of years ago] and I’ve noticed they have a spot they prefer. Have a great new week, my dear Donna!

    • I know, I wish I could just ask them what is the problem. They just sit there and scowl at me. I am now wondering about your pine on the balcony. Is it one of the miniature ones? The farm was growing and selling these minis for a really high price for people that like miniature conifer gardens. That is something you got a nest in it too. I wish you a fine week ahead too.

      • It is actually a normal pine tree I’ve had more than 12 years in a huge pot and hope that one day we’ll have a garden to plant it in [with the nest!] For now I am faced with a big problem because we are moving to a new home and the pine tree is not the only big tree in my balcony and I fear I may have to clip their branches in a very wrong time for them… Panic! 🙄

  22. Denise says:

    Beautiful photo’s! Sooo cute. Maybe birds don’t like clean new things. I am sure they will eventually get used to it. If one bird leads the way the rest will follow. I am sure of it.

  23. Fossillady says:

    Oh, I hope they eventually accept the new feeder . . . it looks like it would last a long time and discourage the squirrels! Quite the mystery!

  24. acuriousgal says:

    First of all, looooove all your pics! Secondly, my suet feeder is standing vacant too….I’m patiently waiting, well, not very patiently!!! Maybe I’ll try a birdbath??!!! Yours looks like a swingin hot tub, what kind of birding establishment are you running over there, Donna??!! Haha!!!

    • Suet feeders do seem to take time for birds to use. I have always had the same type, and there are quite a few woodpeckers that live here, so I have four suet feeders to eliminate the fighting. One is a new style, so I will see how that goes.

  25. mazza18467 says:

    I just think you should rename your birdfeeder, with a name like the eliminator I would also have my doubts.

  26. Patty says:

    I had the Squirrel Buster bird feeder which looks a lot like your eliminator feeder. It does foil the squirrels but mine was eventually broken by racoons as it was hung from a tree. It took months for the birds to use my suet feeder, but now they all give it a try, even the jays. Very nice bird bath, obviously it is heated, I think I would like one too.

    • They told me that racoons can damage the feeder. We do have a raccoon in the neighborhood too, but it never has gone after my feeders. Too many people feed stray cats, and little do they know, there is a raccoon and a skunk prowling at night. The birdbath really is like a sauna for the birds. The water stays very warm in the little birdbath. My other birdbath has a heater to lay in the water, but it freezes up in very cold temperatures. The birds like that one too though.

  27. I experienced the same thing with a suet feeder I put up! It is a bright yellow sunflower and I thought it would add some color to the garden but the birds have all but ignored it. I finally threw one of our feeders away that the squirrels knocked down one too many times and it was all bent up in the middle. I have a new feeder on my Christmas list. I love your action shots of the birds!

    • Wild Birds Unlimited has many nice feeders in many styles. Maybe you have one near you. They have cages to put around some of the feeders to keep squirrels away, but I don’t like them as much because they only allow certain sized birds. A Cardinal or Blue Jay would not likely use it.

  28. Julie says:

    Hi Donna, your photographs are absolutely wonderful, we had the same experience with two new feeders this year, I had not realised its a common occurrence. Really lovely post as always.

    • I never ran into this before in my garden either. I have had many feeders, and numerous tube feeders. The birds always used them. I am sure the birds will breakdown and feed from it, but it is discouraging since I drove so far to get them a new feeder. They should be happy with me!

  29. Loving your captures – so much activity:)

  30. bittster says:

    Your first picture is awesome! I have never seen a chickadee look more offended! You really have a nice setup there.
    Empty your new feeder and fill it with pure black oil sunflower seed. Right now it has mostly millet and only ground feeders such as sparrows and doves prefer millet. I bet if you put sunflower in there the chickadees will be on it before the day is over.

    • I know that looks like a lot of millet, but it is ground up premium seed, no shells. It is a mix of sunflower chips, peanut halves and only 10% millet. The chickadee was the only bird to go to the feeder. It is not the seed since it is used in all feeders. I have other mixes too, but that is not the problem. They do just need time I guess.

  31. Annette says:

    Your place looks so inviting and one would think there’s no need to promote it. I love your feathered friends! No need to advertise here as they notice straight away when there’s something put out for them.

  32. A.M.B. says:

    We’ve never had this problem with new feeders! We’re planning to replace a broken feeder soon. I wonder if the birds will like it! These are great pictures–I love the first one especially.

  33. I’ve had the same experience. The birds seem very slow to adapt to any kind of change. A similar thing happened when I moved a feeder just a foot or two. They are certainly creatures of habit, not to mention bird brains!

    • It is funny, but I moved both of their old feeders all over the yard, even to places away from their shelter plants, and they still go to them by the numbers. It really IS only the new feeder that they are having a problem. It just baffles me to no end. I wrote this post a week ago and they still have not investigated it. I fear now it may never be used the way this is going.

  34. I don’t put my feeder out until Nov. 1 and have been disappointed that it hasn’t drawn the flocks of birds it has previously. They are gradually finding it. It’s a squirrel-proof feeder hung high on the side of our screened-in porch (where the deer can’t reach it), and we actually enjoy watching the squirrel climb up the wall and stand upside down on the feeder to get what little he can from it.

  35. Looks like an interesting feeder…I need to get busy and get more feeders out.

  36. Fergiemoto says:

    What a great post! I love that first photo the best – the facial expression is just like the looks we get from the birds at our place when the feeders are empty. I have found that they do like consistency, but they adapt quickly to new feeders as long as we continue to put out the kinds of food they like.

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