Window bird feeders may be the best thing since no-melt suet.
The popularity of window bird feeders can be partially attributed to how they allow bird lovers to get up close and personal with the objects of their affection. So, if you’re holed up and can’t go to the birds, then let the birds come to you!
Window feeders are also convenient. You can fill a window bird feeder without needing to go outside.
They also make it possible for those without gardens or trees from which to hang a traditional feeder to still feed and enjoy backyard birds.
Finally, those who have restricted mobility or access to the outdoors can use a window bird feeder to join the ranks of the more than 57 million households that enjoy one of America’s fastest growing hobbies.
If you’re considering adding a window bird feeder to your home, then this guide to window bird feeders should help you make the best choice from among the many available designs. I also share information that will ensure you get the most enjoyment from your new feeder.
Choosing a Window Bird Feeder
First things first… do you want a bird feeder that mounts to the outside of a window, one that protrudes into your home, or one that simply hangs outside a window?
Your preference may be an aesthetic or practical one, depending on whether your selection fits your style window, impedes the window’s movement, and whether the feeder is accessible once installed.
Outside Window Mount: These are they type of window feeders most commonly seen. They cling directly to the outside of a window and are usually attached with suction cups or Velcro.
Solarium Feeders: These feeders rest on a windowsill and either protrude into the house through an open window or are secured outside a closed window.
Hanging Feeders: These window feeders aren’t technically window feeders. Rather, it’s any feeder suspended from a specially designed hanger or hook that sticks to a window.
If you’re leaning toward a solarium feeder, determine whether you are comfortable having a window that, while closed, won’t lock. Also, a solarium feeder won’t work with a casement window.
If you’ve nixed the solarium feeder and your window won’t easily accommodate a window-mounted feeder, then ask your wild bird supply store for a window-mount hanger or hook.
Using one of these, you can suspend a small to medium size tube feeder or a hummingbird feeder directly outside your window. You’ll largely get the same desired results—birds you can see up close.
Pay Attention to the Window Feeder’s Design
There aren’t many birders who, beyond determining if a feeder is attractive, pay much attention to how a bird feeder is designed. This is especially true for those new to the hobby.
But design can be a significant contributing factor to how much you enjoy the hobby.
For example, I became initially tuned in to feeder design after I bought a feeder from a big box store. The first time I went to clean it, I discovered I had to remove five teeny-tiny screws before I could release the tube and get a brush into it.
I hated those screws. I mean they were small. And it was far too easy to lose them.
As a result, I didn’t clean that feeder often enough.
It’s because of unforeseen snags like itsy-bitsy, disappearing screws that I always suggest my readers go to a quality wild bird supply store for their food, feeder, and other supplies.
Generally, these establishments have employees who are knowledgeable about these sorts of things. They should ask you lots of questions to ensure you get the feeder best suited to you.
Of course, it never hurts to go into a purchasing decision well-prepared. Below are four features of window feeders you should consider when making your decision.
What is the feeder made of?
Most of the feeders you’ll find will be made of plastic, although wooden ones are also available.
Plastic is easy to clean. Soap, hot water, and a 10-minute soak in a solution that is nine parts water and one-part chlorine bleach is all it takes. On the other hand, plastic will collect scratches over time.
Wood looks natural and will weather with the seasons, but it’s possible a woodpecker might try to drill a hole. Also, wood will be harder to clean and properly disinfect.
See also: Plastic vs. Glass Hummingbird Feeders
Is the feeder going to fall off the window?
Whether you decide to go with a window-mounted feeder or a window-mounted hanger/hook from which to suspend a feeder, you’ll want high-quality, strong suction cups.
The suction cups are key to keeping your window-mounted feeder or hanger/hook in place. It’s worth paying more for a feeder if it comes with quality suction cups.
Before mounting your feeder, clean the window. Suction cups will not stick to dirt, grime, or dust. Use a window cleaner but then, for extra points, wipe the area with some rubbing alcohol and let it evaporate. After that, your window should be squeaky clean.
Ideally, you’ll want to mount your window bird feeder on a day when the window is warm. If you can’t, then use hair dryer set on low for two to three minutes to warm it up.
Finally, use a small drop of cooking oil and run it around the inside of the suction cup. It helps strengthen the connection between the cup and the window and won’t evaporate like water will.
What style roof does the feeder have?
Personally, I prefer a slanted roof over a flat one. While a flat roof may encourage your birds to sit and stay a while, making it nice for you to enjoy the view, it will also be a convenient place for them to defecate. That can get gross pretty quickly.
Slanted roofs will minimize the collection of excrement. It’s also fun to watch the little guys slide down while trying to get a firm grip.
Also pay attention to how much of the roof hangs over the seed. When it rains or snows, it there enough to protect the seed from getting wet? Wet seed will rot and quickly grow mold and become home to illness-causing bacteria.
How big should my window feeder be?
Smaller feeders should discourage larger birds, like European starlings, from landing while remaining accessible to finches, titmice, chickadees, nuthatches, and similarly sized birds.
Smaller feeders that prevent birds from sitting in the seed also will prevent them from defecating in their food supply. Look for a window feeder that has a ledge for perching.
You’ll probably have to fill smaller feeders more frequently, but fresh seed every day or two is a good thing. Fresher seed is less likely to harbor nasty mold or bacteria.
How to Attract Birds to a Window Feeder
Location will influence whether your backyard birds decide to try Le Bistro Maison de Verre.
It’s best to select a window that isn’t in a high traffic area.
Because of the activity level, kitchens and living rooms typically aren’t good choices. But an office or bedroom window could be ideal.
Also, if you have the option, don’t stick your feeder on a window that’s over a patio or deck. If you do, you may spend time sweeping up tossed seed and scrubbing bird droppings off the surface.
As with everything new you introduce to your birds, it may take a few weeks for them to approach your window feeder. Be patient.
Try to entice visitors with some high-quality sunflower kernels. Mealworms are also yummy, and live worms will turn more feathered heads than dried ones.
You can also place some seeds under the feeder. When they begin to eat this “bait,” the birds will look around for other sources of food and will likely land upon your window feeder.
I always recommend having a water source. The cool, clean water shimmers in sunlight and will attract birds flying by to all your feeders.
If you’re going to hang a small or medium tube feeder from a hanger or hook, then begin by hanging it with your other feeders. As you gradually move it closer to your window, the birds will follow.
Frequently Asked Questions
There are a few questions that backyard birders consistently ask me about window feeders.
Are window bird feeders safe?
The concern is that birds coming to feed at a window will crash into the window and either be injured or killed. In fact, all the varieties of window feeders mentioned here may be safer than traditional feeders.
First, it makes sense that as birds approach a window feeder, they will naturally slow down to perch on the feeder.
Additionally, window crashes happen when birds see the surrounding area reflected in the window and continue to fly as if it wasn’t there. A window-mounted feeder will break up the reflection and likely reduce the number of crashes.
Still, if you’re concerned, ask your wild bird supply store owner for window decals specially designed to be seen by birds, and stick them on your windows.
See also: How to Prevent Window Strikes
Will squirrels get to my window bird feeder?
Whether a squirrel will raid your feeder depends on how large your window feeder is, and whether there is a point from which a squirrel could leap to reach it.
As I mentioned earlier, window-mounted bird feeders tend to be smaller, which makes it difficult for a squirrel to get a toehold.
Additionally, if you have a window that is at least 10 feet from anything a squirrel could use as a launching pad, and the window is at least five feet from the ground, your seed should be safe.
Of course, I never put anything beyond a squirrel’s persistence and ingenuity. But on my feeder deterrence scale, window feeders are a good bet.
Window-mounted feeders are entertaining and educational—perfect for adults and children. Make sure the suction cups are strong; install your feeder on a clean window; and follow the tips I provided to get birds to pay a visit.
You’ll be surprised by the boost in your level of enjoyment a window-mounted bird feeder will create. Birdwatching is a different experience when you’re close enough to see a bird’s eye color from the comfort of your armchair.