For years I half-heartedly fed the wild birds at my decorative feeders. I thought it was an interesting way to liven up the yard from time to time.
But that mindset changed one day when a chickadee landed on my daughter’s shoulder…
Here’s how she started feeding birds by hand…
I used to keep a bag of sunflower seeds by the front door for our bird feeder and on occasion would dump a quart or two of seeds into our bird feeders.
My daughter, however, had higher bird feeder aspirations.
Unknown to me at the time she’d toss a handful of seed into her coat pocket on her way to the bus in the morning. When she reached the end of the driveway she’d toss the bird seed on the ground (which I never recommend you do as it leaves the feeding birds within predator reach).
After a few days the chickadees were onto her.
They would come right away at ‘bus stop time’, and eat the seeds at her feet. A few days later they were eating right out of her hands.
And by the time I caught up to this story they were landing on her shoulders whether she had food or not – at the bus stop or not!
You’ve probably caught onto the ‘feed birds by hand‘ technique now.
It requires about a week’s time, 20 minutes each day and the ability to sit still.
Once the birds trust you, they’ll land on or very near you whether you have food for them or not!
- Start with chickadees as they are the least timid.
- Use Sunflower seeds as they are easily recognizable to the chickadees and a favorite food.
- Plant yourself absolutely still in a chair, perhaps near a feeder in use that you’ve emptied for this ‘training’ time.
- Place 10-15 seeds at your feet about 2 feet away and stay with the birds until all those seeds are gone (especially if you have a prowling cat).
- For the next 2 days place the bird seed closer and closer, eventually working up to no seeds on the ground, only on your outstretched palm. (This is so exciting when they finally land on your hand and stay to eat, instead of the snatch and fly.)
That’s all there is to it! Once the chickadees have learned to trust other birds will follow – first the nuthatches and then the finches (if you switch the feed to thistle).
Have fun and send me a picture of your birds feeding right out of your hand!