Saturday, August 19, 2023

Birds at Your Feeder in Connecticut (+Videos!)

 What birds come to feeders in Connecticut?

This article and accompanying videos discuss the most common birds at bird feeders in Connecticut throughout the year. Other feeder birds may be more common seasonally, but these should be present most of the year.

I start with a quick list of Connecticut feeder birds and then provide more information if you are so interested.

Feeding birds in Connecticut can bring much joy!

Here are 10 birds that you are most likely to see at your bird feeder in Connecticut:

  • Blue Jay
  • Northern Cardinal
  • Mourning Dove
  • Black-capped Chickadee
  • Song Sparrow
  • Tufted Titmouse
  • Downy Woodpecker
  • American Goldfinch
  • House Sparrow
  • White-breasted Nuthatch

The most common feeder bird in Connecticut is the Blue Jay. Read more about it, below.

Photo of Blue Jay
Blue Jay. skeeze Pixabay

Two videos showing feeder birds of Connecticut

I have created two videos on feeder birds in Connecticut. 

The first video is a brief overview of the Top 10 Birds that come to feeders in Connecticut.

The second video is more in-depth, covering the same species in more detail.

Here's the first brief video:

Just a quick couple of sentences and some photos. This video will give you the names of birds that are visiting your feeder in Connecticut.

Top 10 Feeder Birds of Connecticut [Brief]

Here's the longer, in-depth video:

It includes several videos and photos along with information on range, habitat, behavior, identification, and what they like to eat at feeders. This longer video gives an in-depth look at the birds visiting your feeder in Connecticut. The text for this video is reproduced below.

10 Most Common Feeder Birds of Connecticut [In-Depth]

Black-capped Chickadee

Photo of Black-capped Chickadee
Black-capped Chickadee. Greg Gillson

The cute Black-capped Chickadees must be one of the favorite birds at feeders across much of North America. 

They are year-round residents in Alaska and across Canada south across the northern half of the United States. 

These birds are found in deciduous and mixed woods, orchards, and backyards. They feed in small flocks acrobatically on the end of twigs, searching for invertebrates and small seeds. 

In winter they make up the core of roaming mix feeding flocks. These flocks include chickadees, kinglets, nuthatches, and often include Brown Creepers, Downy Woodpeckers, Yellow-rumped Warblers, and wrens. 

These are small birds, smaller than House Finches. They are about the same length as American Goldfinches. The bodies of chickadees are round and plump. They have big heads and long tails that flit about. They have long legs and big feet. The bills are short and stout. This allows them to eat both seeds and invertebrate foods. 

These birds are gray above and buffy below. They have striking black caps and bibs, offset by their white face. You may also notice the white secondary wing edges of the folded wing. Genders are identical in appearance. 

 At your feeder, Black-capped Chickadees love black oil sunflower seeds. They take these one-at-a-time to a nearby branch. They hold the seed with their feet and pound the shell open with their bill to get the kernel inside. In fall they often take the whole seed away and store it for the winter, in what is called a cache.

Northern Cardinal

Photo of Northern Cardinal
Northern Cardinal. Greg Gillson

Northern Cardinals are one of the most popular birds in the United States. Even people who haven't seen one in life have seen their image on logos and advertisements.

These birds are year-round residents from the northeastern United States south to Florida, west to the Midwest, southern Great Plains to Arizona.

They are found in woodlands, hedgerows, and dense backyard shrubs.

Both males and females sing, a series of repeated whistles.

These birds are less bulky than European Starlings, but just as long. The have a very long tail and big head with tall crest.

The bill is very thick at the base, short, with curved edges. It is usually obviously orange.

Males are bright red throughout, with hints of blue on the wings, tail, and back. They have a black throat patch that reaches to the eye and over the bill.

Females are dull brown or buffy yellow in coloration with red highlights on the edges of the wings and tail. Their crest isn't quite as pronounced as the males. They still show the black around the bill.

Northern Cardinals eat larger seeds at your feeder, including black oil sunflower seeds and safflower seeds.

American Goldfinch

Photo of American Goldfinch
American Goldfinch. Greg Gillson

The American Goldfinches are favorite backyard birds across North America. Many people call them “wild canaries.” 

These active birds are year-round residents coast-to-coast across northern and mid-latitudes of the United States. 

In summer birds move into southern Canada. In winter birds are found throughout the United States.

They are found in weedy pastures and brushy clearings. In town, they favor parks and residential areas with lawns and scattered trees. They often feed on thistles or dandelion seeds on the ground. But they also fly over open spaces between trees with a bounding roller-coaster flight and a lilting “potato chip” call. 

These are small birds, smaller than House Finches. They are rather plump birds with small round heads and short tails. The bill is small but it is conical for eating seeds. It is colored pink. 

Summer males are striking with their brilliant yellow and black plumage. The body is yellow and they have a black crown. The wings and tail feathers are black and white. 

Females are duller olive-green without the black crown. They have thin white wing bars. 

Juvenile birds in fall show striking tan wing bars on the black wing. 

In winter both genders are pale gray and tan with brown wings and tail. They may only show a hint of yellow on the head and throat. 

At your feeder, American Goldfinches love black oil sunflower seeds and Niger seed. They are especially common at feeders in summer and fall.

Mourning Dove

Photo of Mourning Dove
Mourning Dove. Greg Gillson

The mournful summer song of Mourning Doves is familiar to most, even if they don't know what bird makes the sound. 

They are found across the United States as year-round residents. Birds summer in the northern Great Plains and south central Canada, but withdraw in winter. 

These birds are found in towns and farms, and open country with scattered trees, often along rivers. 

In spring they sing from power lines in residential areas. They may puff out their chests while cooing from the peak of your roof. 

These birds are much larger than European Starlings, but also much smaller than American Crows. These birds have large powerful breasts, a tiny round head on thin neck, and long pointed tail. Their wings are somewhat pointed in flight. The bill is small as typical for all pigeons. Genders are identical. 

These birds are warm tan or brown colored. The breast has a pinkish hue. The wings are gray. They have a few large black spots on the wing coverts. They have a black spot on the side of the neck below the cheek that sometimes shows some iridescent green feathers. The tail has white edges, best seen in flight. 

At your bird feeder Mourning Doves eat all types of seeds. They are also attracted to water for drinking and bathing.

Tufted Titmouse

Photo of Tufted Titmouse. Public Domain.
Tufted Titmouse. N Lewis. NPS.

Tufted Titmice are one of the favorite feeder birds in the East. 

They are year-round residents from the Northeast to the Midwest and south to Florida and eastern Texas. 

These birds like deciduous and mixed woods. They are found in parks, orchards, and residential areas with large trees. 

They are acrobatic as they move through the tree canopy. But you will often hear them first, as they have a wide variety of both husky calls and clear whistled notes. 

These birds are nearly the size of House Sparrows. They are larger than chickadees. They have stout bodies and a large head on short neck. The tails are medium in length. The crest is wispy and not always as obvious as one might think. The bill is short and stout. 

They are gray above and pale below, often with a pale peach color on the flanks. There are black feathers around the eye, which make the eye look big and stand out on the pale face. There is also a touch of black on the forehead above the bill. Genders are similar in appearance. 

Tufted Titmice eat black oil sunflower seeds, peanuts, and suet at your bird feeder.

Downy Woodpecker

Photo of Downy Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker. Greg Gillson

Downy Woodpeckers are tiny and common visitors to backyards across the United States. 

These woodpeckers inhabit nearly all of North America south of the tundra and away from the driest deserts. 

Often found near water, they like small deciduous trees, willows, and brush. Common in backyards. 

Like other woodpeckers, these birds hitch up small trees. However, they often cling to the small outer branches. They even hang on twigs and small bushes such as wild rose and teasel. 

They are bigger than House Finches, smaller than Red-winged Blackbirds, but shaped differently than either. These birds have stocky bodies and big heads. They have short, stiff, pointed tails. The legs are short. The feet are large with strong claws. The bills of these woodpeckers are chisel shaped but especially short and petite. 

The overall pattern of these birds is black-and-white stripes. The wings are black with numerous white spots and bars. The back is white. The underparts are white or tinged with buff. The face is white; the crown and nape is black, the ear covert black, and there is a black malar stripe. The tail is black with white outer tail feathers. Males have a red spot on the nape that females lack. 

Downy Woodpeckers eat suet at your feeder.

Blue Jay

Photo of Blue Jay
Blue Jay. skeeze Pixabay

Blue Jays are one of the most well-known birds in the United States. 

Birds are found year-round east of the Rocky Mountains from southern Canada to Texas and eastward. There is a noticeable migration of some of their population in most of their range. Birds move northward into the Great Plains of Canada for the summer. 

Though they are found in woodlands of all type, they are especially attracted to oak trees. They are common in residential areas, too. 

Brash and conspicuous, Blue Jays have a complex social structure. The more the crest is raised, the more excited or agitated the bird is. 

Jays are fairly large backyard birds. They are just a bit larger than American Robins. These are stout birds with large rounded or wedge-shaped tails. They have large legs and feet. They have a bushy crest. The bill is fairly long, strong. 

Genders are similar in plumage. They are blue above, including the crest. They are gray below with a black necklace across the throat. The wings are barred with black, with white wing bars and trailing edges. The blue tail is barred with black and has white tail corners. 

At your feeder, Blue Jays love whole peanuts and sunflower seeds.

Song Sparrow

Photo of Song Sparrow
Song Sparrow. Greg Gillson

Song Sparrows are widespread across North America. 

These birds summer from southern Alaska and across Canada to the Ohio River Valley and in the West to southern California and Arizona. In winter most birds leave Canada and the northern Great Plains, except for a population in western Canada. The winter birds push south to Florida and Texas into northern Mexico. 

These birds are found in a wide variety of brushy habitats. They are found in open woodlands, marshes, and backyards landscaped with large bushes and brambles. 

They spend a lot of time hopping on the ground looking for food. They eat insects and invertebrates in summer, but mostly seeds in winter. 

They are a bit smaller than House Sparrows. They have a round body, round head, and longer tail with a rounded tip. The bill is triangular, short and thick at the base. 

Across their range these birds show much variation. Desert birds are paler. Northwestern birds are dark and reddish. Alaskan birds are much larger. In general, they are gray, streaked with brown, with breast streaks forming a center spot on the breast. The pattern of the head is complex but rather diagnostic. The white throat is bordered by a flaring lateral throat stripe. Genders are identical. 

Song Sparrows will visit platform feeders, but more likely stay under dense bushes, venturing out on the ground below the feeder.

House Sparrow

Photo of House Sparrow
House Sparrow. Greg Gillson

House Sparrows were first introduced into the United States in 1851 and quickly became common coast-to-coast. 

These birds are year-round residents from Canada south through Mexico. They originally were birds of Europe and Asia, but have colonized basically every human-occupied city in the world. 

Towns and cities are the primary habitats of these birds. Wherever there are permanent human settlements, these birds are there. They choose to nest in houses, buildings, and other human-made structures, but also in nest boxes provided for other birds. They also thrive in farms and ranches, especially stables and grain storehouses. 

These are social birds, often found in large flocks. They tend to squabble and have a complex hierarchy. Males are dominant in fall and winter, but females dominate in spring and summer. They also tend to be aggressive toward other birds at the feeder. 

These sparrows are not related to New World Sparrows. Thus they are differently shaped. They have a short body and full breast, large head, and short tail. The bill is triangular: short pointed but thick at the base. The bill of female and fall males is dull yellowish. The bill of spring males is black. 

In fresh fall plumage males are dingy brown above, with dark stripes on the back, dusty brown on wings and tail, with a gray rump. They have one large white upper wing bar. They have a bit of black on the chin. As their pale feather tips wear off during winter and spring, the black bib on the male reveals itself. The crown becomes grayer, the face whiter, and chestnut patches on the nape and shoulder become more obvious. 

Females remain in a dull plumage all year. The under parts are dingy gray. Upper parts dull brown with dark lines on the back. They also show a small white upper wing bar. The face shows a brown crown and stripe behind the eye, offset by a wide buffy eyebrow. 

At the feeder House Sparrows eat a wide variety of seeds, but they like cracked corn and red milo (ingredients found in cheaper bird seed) that many native sparrows and finches do not like. They also have rather weak feet. So to reduce the number of House Sparrows at your feeder, switch to black oil sunflower seeds in a tube feeder.

White-breasted Nuthatch

Photo of White-breasted Nuthatch
White-breasted Nuthatch. Greg Gillson

White-breasted Nuthatches are the largest of 4 nuthatch species in North America. 

These birds are year-round residents across southern Canada and all but deserts and treeless areas of the United States, south into the mountains of Mexico. 

They are found primarily in mature deciduous woods, but also dry pine forests in the interior West. 

As with all nuthatches, these active little birds crawl over the trunk and limbs looking for bark insects. Their strong feet allow them to hang on to the bark in any position. You will frequently see them crawling head first down the tree or upside down around a branch. 

These birds are a bit smaller than House Sparrows. They are chunky birds with big heads on short necks. They have stumpy little tails. Their legs are strong and feet large. The bill is fairly slender and sharp pointed. 

They are blue-gray on the upper parts with black crown and hind neck. The upper parts, including the face, are white with rusty feathers in the vent area. Males are more blue on the upper parts and have blacker caps. Females are more gray and have paler caps. 

At your feeder White-breasted Nuthatches love suet and peanuts. They may take seeds from the feeder to cache away in the bark of trees to eat later in the winter.

Recommended Products for feeding birds in Connecticut

Amazon Affiliate Links

If you are looking for feeders and bird food, here are products I use or recommend. If you purchase from these links, I earn a small commission. Thank you for your support.

This hopper feeder is just the right size and durable. The best high quality mixed bird seed for this bird feeder that I highly recommend is Wagner's Songbird Supreme. This combination attracts the widest variety of feeder birds.

I really like how this iBorn copper tube feeder looks in my yard. It is best for finches and chickadees when filled with black oil sunflower seed.

For attracting woodpeckers and chickadees, and keeping out jays, starlings, and grackles, I love my Nature's Way Upside-Down Suet Feeder. I also buy St. Albans Bay suet.

For common backyard birds and birds at your feeder, this is a good little book.

I'm using these Celestron Nature DX ED 8x40s almost exclusively now. I am impressed that such a low-priced binocular has such good image quality. Perfect for beginners! Yes, there are better binoculars at $500, $1000, $2000. But why? They're not that much better.

Links to other articles on this blog

Backyard Birds in Connecticut

Red, Orange & Yellow Birds in Connecticut

Setting up your bird feeder

Saturday, August 12, 2023

Is the Roadrunner a REAL bird?

It's been over 40 years since the Roadrunner cartoon was last shown on broadcast television. Though it seems to be available on Amazon Prime streaming services.

Nevertheless, many people still think of the roadrunner as a cartoon. You may wonder, Is the Roadrunner a REAL BIRD?

Indeed, it is. The Greater Roadrunner is one of two species of roadrunners in the world. It is the only roadrunner found in North America.

Photo portrait of Greater Roadrunner
What do you mean, "Am I real?"

Description of Roadrunners

The Greater Roadrunner, Geococcyx californiatus, is a larger bird. It is 20-24 inches long from bill tip to tail tip.

Roadrunners a have medium long neck, long bill, crested head, and long floppy tail.

They primarily dwell on the ground. They chase down prey and flee from danger by running on long legs.

Roadrunners are in the cuckoo family. Some cuckoos are famously known for their breeding strategy of laying their eggs in the nest of other birds, for the host bird to raise as their own. However, roadrunners build their own nests and raise their own young.

Roadrunners are sometimes referred to as ground-cuckoos.

Roadrunners do, though, have the foot structure of cuckoos. It is called zygodactyl, with two toes forward and two toes backward in the shape of an X.

Photo of Greater Roadrunner
Roadrunner in alert posture

Roadrunners live in the Southwestern United States and northern Mexico. They are found from California to Texas and as far to the northeast as Missouri.

These birds are colored tan with black and brown streaks on the upper parts and wings. The belly is pale. The crest is dark. The tail is blackish with a green sheen. 

Photo of Greater Roadrunner
Letting her tail down.

Do roadrunners really run on roads?

Roadrunners do run along roads and trails. They chase lizards for food and run from danger. They can run at least 20 miles per hour. Despite the cartoon, coyotes can run twice as fast as roadrunners.

Roadrunners can fly. Though they usually don't fly very far or high. They prefer to run. But you may see them fly up into the lower branches of a tree, or glide down a ridge. 

Usually, though, they hop from branch to branch up into a tree, rather than fly.

When roadrunners run, they kind of crouch forward with straight neck. The tail is also held parallel to the ground. The whole posture is horizontal and stealthy.

Then they pull up to a halt with neck, tail, and crest raised. Then off they go again.

Photo of Greater Roadrunner
Very horizontal running posture of roadrunner.

Some Roadrunner behaviors and anecdotes

When sitting still, the tail is often raised and lowered slowly.

The crest indicates the bird's mood. It is often raised in alarm or curiosity.

My grandfather told me of a roadrunner in Death Valley, California, that had a strange morning ritual. At sunrise each morning this bird would go into the campground to fight for an hour with its reflection in the kickplate of the restroom door!

The song of roadrunner is rather ventriloqual--it's hard to locate the source. I once tracked down a roadrunner that was cooing--its mating call. I finally located it. It was on the peak of a roof on the residential edge of Kit Carson Park in Escondido, California.

I was able to observe the cooing song of a roadrunner delivered from a large boulder in the Ramona Grasslands Preserve. The bird started with head and tail raised as it looked about. But when it began "singing" he dropped his tail and bowed his head to the ground. Surprise! The cooing was delivered with the bill closed and almost touching the ground with each head bow and coo! 

While cooing, the bare skin behind the eye became more prominent, with the blue becoming more intense and a large red patch of skin showing behind. After a few seconds the color drained away.

Most field guides say that roadrunners are "unmistakable." But that's not necessarily true. In the 1940 book Birds of Oregon by Gabrielson & Jewett, they discredited the first Oregon sight report of Roadrunner. It seems that in the 1880s Judge Denny imported many Chinese Pheasants, now known as Ring-necked Pheasants, into Oregon--and North America--for the first time. One observer in the late 1800's evidently saw a female pheasant, didn't know what it was, and reported it as a roadrunner!

Most roadrunners are rather shy and cautious. You usually see them running away. But I've been to patio restaurants in the desert where roadrunners come up to the tables for hamburger or other meat scraps from the patrons.

Roadrunners sometimes look for food on lawns and golf courses. They eat almost anything: seeds, lizards, small birds, large insects and beetles. They even eat dog food set outside by campers! So campgrounds in desert grasslands are an excellent area to look for these fascinating birds.

Have you had any interesting encounters with roadrunners? Tell about it in the comments!

Friday, August 4, 2023

Irresistible! Attract House Finches to Your Feeder

House Finches may be found at nearly every bird feeder in the United States!

They add a lively splash of color and activity to your feeders.

How do you attract House Finches to your bird feeder? Follow these suggestions to attract House Finches to your yard.

Photo of House Finch
Male House Finch. Greg Gillson

Why attract House Finches to your bird feeder?

House Finches are very social. They hang out in small flocks throughout the year. Flock size is commonly 5 to 12 birds, sometimes up to 50.

Male House Finches sing throughout the year, though more so in spring and summer.

They are always lively and noisy--but in a happy, chirping way. Though they can get a bit feisty sometimes. 

These birds are easy to attract to your bird feeder. They are often one of the first birds to visit after you first set up your feeder.

House Finches feed seeds to their nestlings, not insects as many similar seed-eating birds do. Thus, they will visit your bird feeder in summer, even as many other birds have abandoned the feeders during the nesting season. 

Look for the young House Finches to visit your feeders with their parents in early summer. They will be begging for food from their parents even while sitting at the bird feeder! Look for fuzzy down feathers sticking out from their crown.

The red color on the forehead and breast of the males varies quite a bit in hue and intensity. This is influenced by diet. The red tends toward orange-red. Occasionally, House Finch males are yellow.

Females lack red color and are very streaky below. Thus, you can always tell the males and females apart when they visit your feeder.

All these attributes bring joy and excitement to your bird feeders.

Photo of House Finch
Female House Finch. Greg Gillson

What foods will attract House Finches to your feeder?

House Finches really love black oil sunflower seeds. They like the seeds in the shell better then sunflower kernels with shells already removed!

They crack the shell by chewing and then extract the meaty kernel with their tongue. Then they let the shell halves fall to the ground.

If you feed mixed seed, the House Finches will eat the sunflower seeds first. Then they'll move on to the other seeds. But they may throw out the other seeds as they search for sunflower 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. This seed attracts the largest variety of birds to your feeder.

House Finches will occasionally eat Niger seed from thistle or finch feeders.

House Finches will also eat berries, and fruit, including oranges and cherries.

Photo of House Finch
House Finch eating black oil sunflower seed. Greg Gillson

What kind of feeders do House Finches like?

House Finches love to eat from tube feeders. They are able to fend off House Sparrows better from tube feeders than from platform or hopper feeders.

Of course, they will also clean up spilled seeds from the ground.

I really love the way my iBorn tube feeder (Amazon affiliate link) looks, with its copper top.  A screwdriver takes off the lower perch and opens it up for cleaning. This feeder filled with black oil sunflower seeds attracts all types of finches, chickadees, and nuthatches. The smaller perches and lack of tray mean that you'll have fewer House Sparrows, Starlings, Doves, and Jays at this feeder.

I created this video on House Finches at your feeder to accompany this article.

Where to place your bird feeder for House Finches

House Finches aren't picky when it comes to bird feeder placement.

A tube feeder on a shepherds hook out in the lawn is fine. They don't mind being in the open. When frightened they fly up into nearly trees or utility wires to watch for danger to pass.

They will eat from hopper feeders on your deck railing.

They will eat from small window-mounted feeders, too!

Just, in general, bird feeders should be placed above 4 feet in height to keep them safer from attacks from house cats.

They will also eat spilled seed on the ground.

Photo of House Finch
House Finch. Greg Gillson

How else can you attract House Finches to your yard?

House Finches seem to like to drink from the bird bath after eating.

They also bathe in bird baths. They like shallow water. And moving or dripping water really attracts them.

They eat buds and thistle seeds from weedy patches and fields. They will like foraging in an overgrown weedy garden in fall. But you might be able to attract them with a wildflower plot.

Need binoculars?

I want to tell you about these Best Value Birding Binoculars

Greg Gillson's Personal Endorsement: I've been watching birds for over 50 years. I've owned a dozen pair of binoculars. For the last 3 years (since June 2020) I've been enjoying the lowest priced binocular suitable for bird watching. It has image quality equal or better than binoculars costing over $450. Yet you can often purchase them online for less than $150. Don't spend less, but why spend more?

Celestron Nature DX ED 8x42 (Amazon affiliate link)

House Finches will not nest in a bird nest box. But they frequently build a nest in a wreath hanging on your door. 

True to their name, they may also build a messy nest on a shelf or corner of a building, or on top of a porch light.

Photo of House Finch
House Finch. Greg Gillson

Problems with House Finches: If you have attracted too many to your feeder

Because they are always in flocks, House Finches seem more susceptible than most to bird diseases spread at feeders. Avian conjunctivitis is a common House Finch disease, causing swollen eyelids, lethargy, and death.

If you see sick or lethargic birds at your feeder--or wildlife agencies announce it, stop feeding birds immediately. Empty bird baths. Take down bird feeders. Clean bath and feeder with bleach. Keep birds away for at least 2 weeks before setting them up again.

House Finches don't eat suet very often. If they do, it is perhaps because of added fruit or nuts.

But for your other birds, you may consider feeding suet.

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. 

I bought a Nature's Way Upside-down suet feeder (Amazon affiliate link) a couple years ago and have been very happy with it. Chickadees, nuthatches, bushtits, and woodpeckers eat from it easily. But starlings, blackbirds, and jays can't hang upside down to get at the suet.

House Finch FAQ

Ask questions in the comments below about attracting and feeding House Finches and I'll add the answer here!


Why aren't birds coming to your feeder?

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

Next in series:

Tuesday, August 1, 2023

What do you put under a bird feeder to keep it clean?

Bird feeding is an enjoyable pastime. 

But it has some challenges. 

One thing that can be a problem is the mess of seed husks and bird droppings that can accumulate under the feeder. It can be unsightly or even unhealthy.

Sunflower seed husks can kill the grass under a bird feeder, leaving behind muddy bare ground and some scraggly, weedy-looking sprouts.

What do you put under bird feeders to keep them from being messy?

To keep the ground under a bird feeder clean, you can put a seed catcher under your bird feeder. You can also landscape under a bird feeder with flowers, pavers, mulch, or a tree ring.

This article gives you some ideas and tells you how.

Photo of Rose-breasted Grosbeak at bird feeder
Carl & Tracy Gossett. Flickr. CC BY-ND-2.0

Spilled bird seed and shells from sunflower and other seeds can create a mess under the bird feeder. These spilled seeds can pile up and become a mess. Spilled seeds may attract unwanted creatures at your bird feeder. Some seeds may sprout under the feeder. In wet winter conditions the fallen seeds may be covered with mold and mildew.

Here are some ideas for you to consider. Be sure to view the video at the end of the article. It's not my video, but it shows how one person tried several ideas and finally created landscaping to put under her bird feeder to keep it clean.

Seed catchers to prevent messy bird feeders

Seed catcher example

Seed catchers are large trays you place under your bird feeder. These seed catchers do what they say. They catch spilled seed from your bird feeder. This can be a quick and easy way to keep the ground under your bird feeder clean. 

Seedcatchers can also save you money by retrieving fallen seed and placing it back in the feeder.

Here is a link to Amazon to a wide selection of seed catchers (affiliate link).

There are several kinds or styles of seed catchers.

You will find seed catchers that hang from hooks under a bird feeder.

Other types of seed catchers attach to the bird feeder pole.

Still other seed catchers sit on the ground under the feeder.

I tried a small hanging seed catcher once. Did it work? Somewhat, I guess. It might be just the solution you are looking for.

In my brief experience using one, it caught some seeds, but not all. If the wind blew, the seeds would blow out. If I didn't clean it out every day--or twice a day, the seeds would be on the ground.

Additionally, I worried that with strong winds, the seed catcher would act like a sail and the bird feeder would blow over. The bigger the seed catcher, the better they work, but the more likely it is that wind could be a problem. The only way to know is to try it!

Planting a wildflower garden under your bird feeder

Planting a wildflower garden under your bird feeder can be a great way to attract birds with their many seeds. It can also hide fallen seeds from the feeder and aid in naturally decomposing them.

Wildflowers like geraniums, daylilies, clematis, lupines, dahlias, cotoneasters, lemon balms, and even coneflowers are great for under a bird feeder. 

Overwintering birds will pick up these seeds and eat them once the spring hits, making for an even better afternoon snack. Furthermore, the birds in your yard can also spread wildflower seeds, ultimately helping you grow more.

You can also try other low-growing plants beneath a bird feeder like sunflowers or holly. The key here is to have landscaping that is inviting, not overpowering. Remember that the plants growing underneath your feeder can’t be too tall. 

Having your plant take over the bird feeder can deter birds and even uproot your feeder from the ground. 

Here are some tips for planting a wildflower garden under your bird feeder: Choose native plants that are adapted to your area. Plant in the fall or early spring. Choose plants that bloom at different times of the year.

Placing landscaping pavers under your bird feeder

Pavers are flat stones or bricks that you can lay on the ground to create a hard surface under your bird feeder. Pavers are easy to install and maintain, and they come in various shapes, sizes, colors, and patterns. You can arrange them in any way you like to create a unique design. Pavers also prevent weeds from growing and make it easy to sweep or hose off any spilled seeds or droppings.

Landscaping with mulch under your bird feeder

Mulch is a layer of organic or inorganic material that you can spread on the ground to cover the soil and suppress weed growth. Mulch also helps retain moisture, regulate temperature, and improve soil quality. You can use different types of mulch under your bird feeder, such as wood chips, bark, straw, gravel, rubber, or plastic. Mulch is inexpensive and widely available at garden centers or home improvement stores.

Landscaping with a tree-ring under your bird feeder

A tree ring is a circular landscaping feature that surrounds a tree trunk and creates a border between the tree and the lawn. A tree ring can also be used under a bird feeder to create a neat and tidy area that prevents spilled seeds from growing and prevents mess. You can buy a tree ring made of plastic or rubber online or at a local garden center, or make one yourself with some landscape fabric and edging.

Don't put anything under your bird feeder--move it seasonally!

This is the simplest and most common way to landscape under a bird feeder--don't.

Perhaps you are already doing this. In this case you are looking for a more attractive idea. But consider....

At the end of the winter or spring bird feeding season, take your feeders down. Remove all feeders and poles. Clean and rake the ground under the bird feeder. Reseed the small patch of damaged lawn.

Then, in the fall, put your feeders up again at a new location.

Will this work for you? If so, problem solved!

During the winter, don't put off cleaning under your bird feeder. I know it's not high on your to-do list. But don't put it off. It's only a 10-minute job if done regularly. Clean up spilled seed and rake at least monthly. The more often you perform this task, the easier it is, and the less damage your lawn will suffer.

Brief instructions for how to landscape under a bird feeder

1. Clean under the bird feeder: Before you start landscaping, you need to clean up any old seeds, hulls, droppings, or debris that may have accumulated under your bird feeder. This will prevent mold, disease, and pests from harming your birds and plants. You can use a rake, a broom, a shovel, or a vacuum cleaner to remove the mess.

2. Level the ground: Next, you need to level the ground under your bird feeder to make sure it is flat and even. This will make it easier to lay down your landscaping material and prevent it from shifting or sinking over time. You can use a hoe, a spade, or a trowel to dig up any bumps or holes and smooth out the surface.

3. Lay down your landscaping material: Finally, you need to lay down your landscaping material on top of the leveled ground. Depending on what material you chose, you may need to cut it to fit the size and shape of your bird feeding area. You may also need to secure it with some stakes, nails, glue, or sand to keep it in place. 

Video from Yukaish. Synopsis: DIY project to put easy-to clean tarp under bird feeder. At first she moved the feeders elsewhere within her yard to help the lawn recover. Then she shows two attempts at creating an easy-to-clean surface using ground cloths and tarps. She also showed how to install and use a seed catcher on her bird feeder pole.


Why do birds throw seed out of the feeder?

End the Mess of Feeding Wild Birds!

No Mess and Waste Free Bird Seed: What do they mean? Comparison

How to keep bird seed from sprouting in your lawn

Feed birds without making a mess!

Legal disclosure

As an Amazon Associate I earn commissions from qualifying purchases. Thank you for your support.

Featured Post

Best budget birding binoculars: Celestron Nature DX ED

My review: Celestron Nature DX ED binoculars for birding Is the Celestron Nature DX ED 8x42 binocular any good for bird watching? My perso...