How to Attract Birds to a Feeder on an Apartment Balcony
You don’t need a garden to enjoy wildlife just outside your home. Many birds happily use feeders positioned on balconies. Generally, once one bird discovers a feeder, lots more will follow. However, if your apartment is high up, it may take a while before any birds happen upon your feeders. Most species don’t forage that high and may not expect to find food on balconies. However, birds respond to visual and audio signals indicating the presence of food. Use plants, colors and sound to help birds find your feeders more quickly.
Research which bird species are common in your immediate area. Check online, ask wildlife enthusiasts you know or consult a local conservation society, park or natural history museum.
Put up small feeders of different types. If hummingbirds are present in your neighborhood, choose a hummingbird feeder of the brightest red you can find and position it so it is visible from below. Add a seed feeder for other species. Small feeders help reduce waste while you are waiting for birds to discover your balcony.
Fill the feeders with the appropriate foods. Make a mixture of one part plain white sugar to four parts water in a pan and heat gently until the sugar dissolves. Allow to cool and pour into the hummingbird feeder. Birdseed mixes, shelled nuts or sunflower seeds are suitable for the seed feeder. Balls of suet on string, available from garden centers, are a high energy option and popular with woodpeckers.
Add potted plants, preferably of native species, to your balcony. This creates a more natural habitat, which suggests to birds there may be food. The plants also attract insects, which are a food source themselves.
Position a portable music player on the balcony during the day, especially in the morning, and play recordings of bird song. Select the songs of birds that you know live in your area and that you want to attract. Keep the volume at a moderate level.
Replace the sugar water in the hummingbird feeder every couple of days, regardless of whether or not is had been eaten. Clean all the feeders with hot water and dishwashing liquid once a week and discard uneaten seeds.
Replace the feeders with bigger feeders, or add new ones, once birds start visiting your balcony on a regular basis.
- As well as the feeders, you can hang or put out a range of other foods. For example, drill a hole in half a fresh coconut and hang it alongside the feeders. The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds also recommends dried fruit, uncooked oats, canned dog or cat food, sliced apples, cooked potatoes and grated cheese.
- Never feed wild birds dried coconut, uncooked rice or any salty foods. These are potentially lethal.
Judith Willson has been writing since 2009, specializing in environmental and scientific topics. She has written content for school websites and worked for a Glasgow newspaper. Willson has a Master of Arts in English from the University of Aberdeen, Scotland.
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