Saturday, May 20, 2023

Irresistible! Attract Song Sparrows to Your Feeder

The happy song of the Song Sparrow is one of the first bird songs heard in spring. 

Most places in the United States have Song Sparrows. These birds breed in Canada and in most of the United States, except for the Gulf Coast. Even there, they are found in winter.

How do you attract Song Sparrows to your bird feeder? Follow these suggestions to attract Song Sparrows to your yard.

Photo of Song Sparrow
Song Sparrow. Greg Gillson.

Why attract Song Sparrows to your bird feeder?

Song Sparrows can be a bit shy and skittish at your feeders. They don't like the bustle and noise of the House Sparrows and finches. And they don't make a mess at the feeder, either.

They wait until a quiet time at the feeder to come out from under your landscape bushes. Then they'll come and eat, all alone. Thus, they don't eat a lot as some of the other birds do.

This is when you can get out your binoculars and really appreciate the subtle patterns of grays and browns of Song Sparrows. You can study the feather tracts of the head. 

Can you recognize this sparrow at your feeder? Look for that broad dark triangle on the sides of the throat. This wide lateral throat stripe is rather unique to the Song Sparrow--even though there is a wide variety it color shades across the continent.

Photo of Song Sparrow

What foods will attract Song Sparrows to your feeder?

Song Sparrows eat a wide variety of smaller seeds at your feeder. 

A favorite food of Song Sparrows is the white Proso millet seeds found in most mixed bird seeds.

The best mixed bird seed that I have found is Wagner's Songbird Supreme (Amazon affiliate link). It is 50% sunflower seeds and doesn't have any cheap filler seed that birds won't eat.

In winter, Song Sparrows will also eat suet. If you haven't tried feeding suet in winter, you really should. This high-energy food also attracts many birds that don't eat seeds.

For my home feeders, I always purchase St Albans Bay Suet blocks (Amazon affiliate link). It comes in several flavors, including peanut and berry. They fit in required special suet cages, which are a type of bird feeder. 

Photo of Song Sparrow

What kind of feeders do Song Sparrows like?

Song Sparrows especially like platform bird feeders (Amazon affiliate link), low to the ground, with a roof.

These feeders are just an open tray that birds can hop on and feed. Since these birds tend to stay low to the ground, these low ground feeders are popular with Song Sparrows.

They will also eat from hopper feeders that have a wider ledge.

However, you may find that Song Sparrows may sneak around the soil and leaf litter under your hedges, scratching for seeds and bugs. 

They also come out and feed on fallen seed under the feeders. Thus they help keep the ground clean of seeds that other more rambunctious birds knock out of the feeder.

I have created this brief video discussing Song Sparrows at your feeder. It's on my new YouTube channel, devoted more to bird identification. I hope you enjoy it!

Where to place your bird feeder for Song Sparrows

Song Sparrows don't come out far from cover. 

Song Sparrows like to stay low to the ground.

For these reasons, you shouldn't place feeders for Song Sparrows out in the middle of your lawn, all alone. They just won't visit.

There should be some bushes nearby for them to flee to when they feel unsafe.

On the other hand, low feeders near cover may also be a hiding place for house cats to pounce on the birds. So, you need to adjust this recommendation, depending upon if cats visit your yard or not. 

If cats are a problem, then feeders should be raised and perhaps 8 feet from a hiding place where they can spring out. In such a case, it is better not to attract Song Sparrows.

Photo of Song Sparrow

Here is an Amazon ad picturing a low to the ground platform feeder with roof. These are perfect for Song Sparrows, but also attract other birds that like to feed near the ground, such as Northern Cardinals and other various sparrows.

How else can you attract Song Sparrows to your yard?

As mentioned, Song Sparrows like large landscaped bushes and hedges. Some kind of broad-leafed evergreen will be popular with them--perhaps a camelia or rhododendron. They also like brush piles and weedy ditches. They may also be attracted to your garden if you let it go wild after the fall harvest.

Song Sparrows will visit bird baths. They are especially attracted to moving water. So, if you have a water feature, they'll love that (and so will many other birds!).

Need binoculars?

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Celestron Nature DX ED 8x42 (Amazon affiliate link)

Photo of Song Sparrow


Problems with Song Sparrows: If you have attracted too many to your feeder

Song Sparrows are found singly or in pairs, never flocks. But they will sometimes join flocks of juncos and White-crowned Sparrows feeding on the ground.

As mentioned earlier, however, if house cats are a problem in your yard, then you probably don't want to attract Song Sparrows. They will be especially vulnerable to the hiding and pouncing strategy of the hunting cats.

In such a case, where you don't want to attract Song Sparrows, then you may want to switch to feeding black oil sunflower seeds from a tube feeder. This feeder strategy will attract more finches and chickadees, and less sparrows and ground feeding birds.

I really love the way my iBorn tube feeder (Amazon affiliate link) looks, with its copper top.  A screw driver takes off the lower perch and opens it up for cleaning. It will attract finches, but sparrows don't like this type of feeder as much.

Song Sparrow FAQ

Ask questions in the comments below about attracting and feeding Song Sparrows and I'll add the answers here!


Why aren't birds coming to your feeder?

First in series: Irresistible! Attract Mourning Doves to your feeder

Next in series: Irresistible! Attract Northern Flickers to your feeder

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January 2023: Thank you so much for visiting! I am working on a YouTube channel on birds and bird watching. Check it out here:


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