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How to Keep Unwanted Birds Away from Hummingbird Feeders

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Photograph by Chris Selvig via Flickr

The past few weeks, we’ve been writing about keeping your hummingbird feeders free from pesky ants and flying insects. One of our readers brought up another threat to hummingbird feeders, other birds.

Orioles are known for raiding hummingbird feeders, but they’re not the only ones. Woodpeckers, House Finches and other species tend to invade hummingbird feeders for a chance to drink the sweet nectar. And when these bigger birds eat the nectar, they usually scare away the hummingbirds, which defeats the whole purpose.

So here’s what you can do to protect your hummers from unwanted birds.

Get an oriole feeder, suet feeder and/or seed feeder

One of the best solutions is to simply get more feeders. If you mind having orioles coming to your hummingbird feeders, you can buy feeders especially for them. Oriole feeders are essentially the same as hummingbird feeders, but they can accommodate fruits and jelly as well as nectar. For woodpeckers, you can also put up suet feeders for them to get nutrition. You can do the same thing with other feeders, depending on the species hanging around your hummingbird feeders. Remember to make sure they’re always full, so the birds don’t have to turn to your other feeders for food.

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Opus Glass Hummingbird Feeder

Get a hummingbird feeder without a perch

Small, perchless feeders essentially keep out every bird except hummers because most birds need to perch while eating. A simple feeder like the Opus Glass Hummingbird Feeder requires the birds to be in flight while drinking the nectar. A larger bird like the woodpecker wouldn’t be able to mob the small feeder. You can also trim down the perches on your existing feeders.

Buy or make a bird baffle

Even if the feeder itself doesn’t have a perch, sometimes birds are able to perch on top of the feeder or grab onto the wire that holds it up. You can put a standard baffle or create your own makeshift one out of an old CD.

Separate the feeders

If you have separate feeders for orioles and woodpeckers, but they’re still going to the hummingbird feeders, try separating them. Putting them farther apart will make it less tempting for an oriole to move over and target the hummingbird feeder.

Please let us know any solutions you found.

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6 Comments

  1. Robert Banzet

    Owl & Hawk, plastic birds do not work. Owls feed at night and do not hunt during the day. Cooper hawks hunt and do eat small birds, i do not believe they hunt Humming Birds, at least I have never seen a hawk try to catch one.

    • Sandy

      Oh yes, hawks, do eat hummers. I have seen then come to my feeder and gobble them up. Have even had 2 or 3 at a time sit on the eave of the house waiting for them to show up. Don’t be deceived…they will eat them.

  2. connie

    Bluebirds are sitting on the two sided post hanger that holds the hummingbird feeders and not only do they chase the hummingbirds and oreoles away but they leave their droppings right on the feeders making them a mess. How can I get them to stop hanging around there.

  3. Susan

    I have found that if you buy a hummingbird feeder with bee guards on it the other birds can’t drink from it. I like the Perky Pet model with bee guards.

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