About us: We own the Wild Birds Unlimited nature shop in East Lansing, Michigan,
a store that provides a wide variety of supplies to help you enjoy the birdwatching hobby.

This blog was created to answer frequently asked questions & to share nature stories and photographs.
To contribute, email me at bloubird@gmail.com.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

How do you get wild birds to eat out of your hands?

I’m watching the chickadees at the feeder. They're so cute! Do you think I could train them to eat from my hand?

It takes patience but this is actually a good time of year to get birds to feed from your hand. There are a lot of new inquisitive birds trying to learn how to find food. Birds that are easiest to train usually have a super duper favorite food that they will come for even if it’s in your hand. This would be whole peanuts for Blue Jays or mealworms for chickadees, robins, nuthatches, and bluebirds.

The easiest way for you to start to make friends with the birds is to establish a routine. I’m here at the Wild Birds Unlimited in East Lansing, MI every morning at 10am filling the feeders.

I usually make my imitation of a Blue Jay announcing there is food in the area. It’s not even close to a real jay call but they seem to understand.

Next I clean up the feeding area by sweeping the sidewalk or changing the birdbath water. The birds are super excited about the filled feeder and come around even if I’m still there fussing. I start sweet talking them about how pretty they look today or imitate some tweets as best I can. They give me funny looks but start to see me as harmless.

Now that the routine is established I start to become incompetent. I bring out their favorite bird food but don’t fill the feeder right away. When I see the birds waiting, I fill the feeder and hold it in my hand. The birds usually will come down to feed after a couple minutes. I hold as still as possible.

After a week of doing this I can come out with seed in my hand and the birds usually make the transition easily.

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