The Best Bird Feeder Plans Can Go Awry When You Have a Hungry Mockingbird


If you have put bird feeders in your yard so birds will return to your yard day after day, your plans may be foiled by a mockingbird.  These

The small but territorial brown and gray mockingbird stands vigilant watch from a tree's branch.

Eight Southern States Call the Mockingbird Their Own

beautiful birds have a lot of talents, but sharing is not one of them!

Mockingbirds are tremendously territorial; they will “invade” bird feeders and drive away other birds that had been frequenting your backyard feeder.

You have probably heard that mockingbirds will stay away from feeders with seed because they prefer berries, insects, suet, and worms.  But if you have a mockingbird in your yard, you have learned that they will eat just about anything, seeds or suet.  Mockingbirds have been known to try to drive away not only other birds, but dogs, cats, and even people.  Why keep them around when they drive other birds from your feeders?

Their ability to mimic other sounds is complemented by an aggressive nature that will help keep pests at bay.  You can even start to teach it a whistling tune, which it can pick up and repeat after a while.  You can also learn to recognize your specific mockingbird by its calls and imitations.  And perhaps the best reason for keeping him around: you can’t really get rid of him once he decides to stay.

A sketched illustration from the book, "The Backyard Bird Feeder's Bible" by Sally Roth showing a mockingbird feeder and its separation from other bird feeders in your yard

From "The Backyard Bird Feeder's Bible" see text below

If you want to get rid of a pest or stray, you take away that which initially attracted it.  This doesn’t work with mockingbirds because they will eat just about anything.  While they may prefer suet, they will take seed or whatever else you have put out for the birds. The best thing to do is to draw up a set of bird feeder plans for another spot in your yard.  Make it far away from the feeder that the mockingbird has taken over, and if you can, separate with an obstacle, like a hedge or tree.  This will become a refuge for other birds, while the mockingbird is left to his “territory.”

Nestled on an Evergreen Branch the Birds Feed Safely

As we watch the winter last seemingly forever and see the birds struggling to find a bite eat, many of us will do whatever we can to make sure they find some.  In the desolation of winter, the birds remaining bring us great joy as

Nestled on an evergreen branch with snow layered everywhere, these three birds enjoy an oasis of food in the harsh surroundings.

Bird Feeders in the Winter - an Oasis

the reminder that all is well in the outdoors in spite of the weather.

My friends have commented to me how unsuccessful they have been at attracting birds to their yards during the winter months.  There can be many reasons for this ranging from the simple fact that the birds which would eat the food provided just aren’t hungry.  Maybe there is a ready source of food for them the next block over in a place they’ve been in the past.  Or maybe the birds near your house prefer something other than what you have provided.  Diets vary profoundly from species to species.  Some birds eat grains and seeds or fruit, while others eat insects and grubs.

Most likely though, it is the surroundings and atmosphere of one backyard as compared to another.  One backyard makes the bird feel safe and another does not.  If the bird feed you are using is attracting no birds to your yard, take note of where you are placing your feed.  Is it out in the wide open or right on your window sill in a place where the birds are easy for you to spot?  If so, you might be more successful changing your feeding locations.

While there is little cover in the winter as the trees are bare and the shrubs are too, realize the birds are uncomfortable out in the open eating with no cover at all.  Try placing your feeder in a tree or near shrubbery.  Regardless the level of foliage on the plants, the birds will feel safer in a location such as this.  Chances are you will soon see birds coming into your yard to feed if you make this easy change in feeding places.

After you’ve changed the atmosphere in the birds favor, then evaluate what you are feeding them.  Given the fewer birds in the colder climes during winter, in order to attract more birds, you will want to put more than one type of food out.

My recommendation is to start with some peanuts, some suet (hard uncooked beef fat), and table scraps such as bacon rinds, breads and crumbs, and some fruit pieces.  These items should cover most of the species and bring you good results for winter bird watching.

Attract the Species You Want by Choosing the Design  They Like

Bird watching enthusiasts are always looking for a low cost bird feeders or birdhouses that will attract various species and meet those birds’ needs for feeding and nesting.  Many are unaware of the savings of making it

Hopper style bird feeder with a plexi-glass hopper to see the feed level and a hinged roof for easy refill of the hopper.

Hopper Bird Feeder

themselves out of scraps in their garage or workshop.  If you are hesitant to build your own bird house or bird feeder, you may want to get some free bird feeder plans to see firsthand the step-by-step construction process.  This should make you more than comfortably confident to pursue the project yourself.

Before you choose a design, ask yourself, what species of birds do I want to attract to my backyard?  Bird feeders and birdhouses are very specific as to the species of bird that will feed from or use them to nest.   In general, feeder should have a covering or roof to protect the bird seed as well as some form of landing or perching place for the bird to use while feeding.

The size of the feeder you chose will determine the size of the species of bird you attract, and so it goes the type feed your feeder will dispense will also attract only certain species.  Normally, the bird feeder plans will tell you what species of birds will be attracted, however there is a chart available here on this site that will assist you if not.

In addition to information as to the species of birds that are likely to be attracted to your finished feeder, you should receive a list of all the tools and  supplies you will need to build the feeder.   Once you have gathered all tools and materials, simply follow carefully the step-by-step instructions and before you know it, you’ll be attracting birds to your backyard.