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How Do Birds Find Bird Feeders?

how do birds find bird feeders

One of the things that all living creatures cannot live without is food, right? Can you last a day without consuming even a little portion of food to keep you going?

It’s the same with birds – they’ll do everything to calm their growling intestines and stay alive! So, how do birds find feeders? Surprisingly, birds can quickly sense where the food is by using their sense of seeing and hearing.

Birds are vigilant around them, incessantly listening, observing, and communicating with their fellow creatures for a food source. They also have a super clear vision, learning, and memory.

Why don’t you dive further into the post below for more thrilling facts?!

How do Birds Find Bird Seeds?

how do birds know where bird feeders are

Try to observe your surroundings; have you ever observed a blue jay hopping around your grassplot? What about a flock of tiny birds prattling in a bunch of shrubs or flickers clinging on the side of a tree branch?

These entertaining sceneries commonly indicate that the birds are searching for food in your area. Generally, birds spend their time foraging for food, such as fruits, worms, grains, insects, nuts, or seeds.

Here are the different ways birds look for food sources:


With their unique sense of sight and hearing, birds can quickly pick up what’s happening around them.

Hearing unique sounds of squawking and commotion from other feathered creatures hints that there’s a potential food source in that area.

Their watchful eyes keep track of the arrival and departure of other birds from a food source. Such a gesture is their way of indirectly communicating the food source’s location.

Learning and Memory

Research reveals that birds’ learning and memory are similar to humans, although they vary in type of species and degrees. For instance, some birds can merely remember what they need to thrive in the wilderness, while migratory birds have long-term memories.

Examples of birds with incredible memories include Pinyon jays and nutcrackers.

Sense of Smell

While scientists asserted that it’s difficult to pinpoint whether birds use their sense of smell to locate food sources, they can recognize and utilize the distinctive smell in different scopes.

For instance, some birds use their sense of smell to explore, select mates and search for a nesting place. Birds are known to have an incredible sense of sight and hearing than olfactory abilities.

Eye View

Using their sense of sight, finding different food sources becomes a cinch for most birds. With nearly no sense of smell, they largely depend on their sense of sight and hearing to detect seeds and other food.

Therefore, when a bird notices a feeder brimmed with recognizable food sources, they’re likelier to drop by to munch. Once they get accustomed and feel comfortable, they usually develop an ability to perceive feeders as food sources.


The extraordinary thing about feeders is that you can put them any time of the year to let your winged guests instantly locate them. Since not all bird species migrate, installing the feeder before the coldest season is ideal for flying animals that don’t migrate.

Putting feeders during spring is advantageous as it helps encourage and nurture copulating feathered creatures. There’s no problem keeping the feeders brimmed with different bird food varieties, regardless of the season.

Leaving the feeder all year round in your garden will keep your winged guests well-nourished!


Different sounds, such as moving water from a birdbath, can tell birds that there’s a potential food source nearby.

Since they need to get hydrated daily, they tirelessly search for the sound of water to quench their thirst. This is why placing a birdbath near the feeder is one way of helping birds spot the food source.

Do Birds Recognize where the Feeding Stations are Located?

can birds smell bird seed

Millikin University has revealed in their recent research that there’s a 38 percent survival rate for birds in locations where people install bird feeders.
You might be surprised that the feeder’s location plays a crucial role for birds looking for food sources.

This is why it’s essential to choose a perfect spot where you’ll put the feeder, so birds can quickly spot it.

Want to know how do birds know where bird feeders are?

Most birds commonly recognize feeding stations while they’re flying, making feeders in open locations attractive and frequented. It’s best to situate the feeding station in an open location, inviting diverse bird species to visit and take a bite.

Likewise, since many birds usually search for food in shrubs, lawn, and foliage, putting feeders in these areas sound perfect!

Do Birds Use their Sense of Smell to Smell Seeds?

how do birds find bird seed

As discussed, birds can primarily sense where the food is with their sense of seeing and hearing. Many of us are still contemplating, “Can birds smell birdseed?”

Yes, birds have external nares or nostrils like most living creatures. However, extensive research revealed it’s hard to prove if birds use their sense of smell.

For instance, while vultures can spot lifeless animal corpses from a distance, some research couldn’t tell directly if a bird has a sense of smell. That said, we could safely assert that the feeder birds in your garden don’t merely depend on their sense of smell to find seeds.

Meanwhile, some scientists believe that the red-tailed hawk is a rare bird species with a sense of smell. Still and all, it doesn’t particularly attempt digging for seeds.


You can’t deny how relaxing and entertaining it is to connect with nature and other living creatures. Undoubtedly, one of the best ways to look after our planet is by doing our part to conserve it.

Putting bird feeders in your garden may seem like a small act, but it can help diverse bird species to stay healthy and active. Now that you know the answer to the question “how do birds find feeders?” it’ll be more straightforward to get started.

It’s comforting to know that feeding birds allow us to deepen our connection to our planet with less effort! What do you think about this post? I’d love to hear your thoughts, so please comment below.

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