Winter, summer, spring and fall, you’ll see bird feeders of all shapes and sizes hanging, dangling, fixed and floating, from limb, perch, staff or eave. Do you hang 'em high or hang 'em low? If you position them low enough to be convenient to fill, are they high enough for birds to notice?

How do you decide the best spot to place a bird feeder?

First, think about your own dining preferences: some of us prefer a cozy bistro, others a five-star formal restaurant, still others are more than satisfied with a hot dog and soda at a favorite stand or fast food chain. The same is true of birds. Towhees, juncos, white-crowned and Harris sparrows all prefer dining on the ground; you won't see them visiting feeders hanging several feet high. However, chickadees and finches love to feed from hanging or pole-mounted feeders. Offering a variety of feeding station options will attract a greater sampling of birds.

When selecting a location for a bird feeder, think about these basic criteria:

  • proximity
  • convenience
  • landscape design
  • shelter from the elements
  • safety

Birdfeeders placed too distant or out of sight will tend to be forgotten. Consider placing feeders in close proximity to a pathway or backyard area that you visit frequently. The feeders should also be near other food sources like flowering shrubs or deciduous trees, where birds with discriminating palates can feast on a variety of natural favorites in addition to Lyric Mixes.

Your feeder, as an ornament in your garden, should complement the overall landscape design. Birdhouses and feeders should fit into the landscape, rather than stick out obtrusively. Consider selecting feeders made of natural materials, that blend with the surrounding trees and shrubs, becoming that much more inviting to the birds as part of the natural habitat. Be sure you can view the feeders from vantage points in and around your home to easily observe and identify your feathered guests as you dine inside or relax on your sun porch.

But more important than your “view” is the need for birds to be sheltered and safe. Feeders or houses placed in windy areas out in the open will not provide needed shelter from storms and winter ice. Placed near a tree or brush pile, a feeder that is located where there is adequate cover will be visited more often. Because of their size relative to other wildlife in your neighborhood, birds gathered at a feeder are easy prey. Find an area a few feet away from protective cover, and for goodness sake, keep “Fluffy” the house cat inside!

Squirrel-proofing a feeder is a perennial obsession among birders. Some use slippery poles, some use baffles, and others invest in pricey “squirrel-proof” feeders that turn out to be anything but. Those pesky squirrels are amazing jumpers, some capable of leaping as much as ten feet, so keep those feeders at least 10 feet away from jumping points like a roof or branch or tree trunk. But squirrels will also slip and slide, so choosing feeders with slippery perches or baffles may work for you. Covering a feeder with mesh will also be effective sometimes, but if you truly a wildlife lover, you might just let them do what comes natural—and feed the squirrels too, giving them their own feeding stations!