Window feeders are an excellent way to view the birds in your backyard up close and are often more convenient than other types of feeders. Window Feeders are ideal for bird lovers in apartment buildings, individuals who have limited access to the outdoors, or those who simply enjoy seeing the birds up close.
There are two types of window feeders: those attached to a window and those placed inside a windowsill. Feeders attached to a window are almost always attached to the glass via suction cups, but may be attached with Velcro. They are generally smaller than windowsill feeders and will typically fit any size or type of window. Other benefits of using "on-window" feeders include the option of using multiple feeders on a given window and increased squirrel resistance. Squirrels are usually unable to reach an "on-window" feeder.
Some windowsill feeders, called solarium feeders, protrude into the house through an open window; other windowsill feeders are secured outside a closed window. A solarium feeder rests in the windowsill and will ordinarily have adjustable side pieces that extend to the sides of the windowsill, closing off the open space much like the sides of a window air conditioner. The feeder is then secured by closing the window on top of it. Some windowsill feeders are secured on the outside of a window by a tension pole (similar to a shower curtain rod). This type of feeder allows the window to be completely closed. Windowsill feeders often have large seed tray areas that will accommodate a larger number of birds and hold a much greater seed capacity than their "on-window" counterparts. Other distinguishing characteristics may include one-way mirrors that allow you to see the birds while they cannot see you, and access to the seed tray from inside your house.
When considering a window feeder, it is important to consider whether or not a solarium feeder is right for you. Some individuals are uncomfortable with the fact that solarium feeders require that a window be open at all times. This may conflict with some alarm systems, may raise home security concerns, or may be inconvenient during the winter months.
The size of the window feeder that you need depends on how many birds you would like to have feed at one time and how frequently you will be able to refill the feeder. Most window feeders that are attached to a window will accommodate a small number of birds feeding at one time and have a capacity of as little as 1-2 cups. Larger windowsill feeders will accommodate a larger number of birds and will normally hold one or more quarts of seed. If your birds empty a feeder in 3 days or less, you may either want to use a larger windowsill feeder or add one or more "on-window" feeders.
Always check the dimensions of a window feeder before purchasing it to be sure that it will be compatible with your specific conditions. Most windowsill feeders are compatible with a specific range of windowsill sizes and could possibly require the window to close on top of it for secure placement. Window feeders that are attached to a window have more flexible mounting options and are compatible with almost any window. Access to the outside of the feeder is necessary for cleaning and filling "on-window" feeders and some windowsill feeders. Some windows, such as casement windows, will require a specially designed feeder. If in doubt as to which feeder will work with your window, find out the dimensions of your window and call for recommendations.
After finding a window feeder that is compatible with your windows or windowsills, place the feeder in a window that faces an area that is attractive to the birds, is easily viewed from inside the house, and is easily filled either from inside or outside of the house. If the appearance of a solarium window feeder raises a concern from an aesthetics standpoint, you may wish to place it in a window facing a backyard or in a window on a less conspicuous side of the house.
Some people question the long term stability of suction cups. If properly placed, suction cups should hold your window feeder indefinitely. When mounting your feeder, ensure that both the window and the inside of the suction cups are clean by rinsing them with warm water. Coating the inside of the suction cup(s) with a small amount petroleum jelly or cooking oil will further enhance the seal. After fixing the suction cups to a window, it may be necessary to squeeze out air bubbles by pressing your thumb from the center toward the outside; this should guarantee a clean, firm seal between the window and the suction cups.
Window feeders may be placed during any time of the year; however, some solarium feeders may be inconvenient for individuals living in areas with colder winters.
Solarium feeders may be inconvenient for individuals living in areas with colder winters. Remember that these feeders require a window to be open, which may result in higher heating costs during the winter months. If this is a concern, it may be necessary to remove the feeder and replace it with a different type of window feeder during the winter months.
Nearly all types of birds that are typically attracted to feeders will use a window feeder. Some birds, however, may be excluded by smaller window feeders or may be more suspicious of window feeders. For more skittish birds, you may want to consider using a feeder with a two-way mirror. It is recommended to check a feeder's description to determine what types of birds are likely to use the feeder, and what types of seed can be used with the feeder.
Depending on the type of window feeder used, a squirrel may or may not have easy access to the feeder. Feeders attached to a window are often smaller and more difficult for squirrels to access. In general, windowsill feeders are nothing more than a variation of an open tray, which does not have much squirrel protection from squirrels that can jump to the window. If you have low hanging branches or structures providing squirrels access to your window, a windowsill feeder may not be the best choice; but if squirrels cannot easily access your window, a windowsill feeder may still be a good choice for your bird feeding needs.
Window feeders typically do not increase the likelihood that a bird will fly into your window; in fact, window feeders are likely to decrease the chance that a bird will fly into your window. Birds tend to fly into clean windows or glass when they see a reflection of the sky. By installing a window feeder, birds will be more likely to see and avoid flying into your window. There are products available that can help reduce window hits should you have a problem. Window decals may be a useful way of preventing birds from flying into your windows by making your windows visible.
Window feeders, like all birdfeeders, should be cleaned on a regular basis. Most window feeders are very easy to clean; some may need a simple "sweep," while others may need to be cleaned with water and a mild antibacterial detergent (to kill any potentially harmful bacteria). There is no set schedule for cleaning a window bird feeder; just use your judgment and be conscious of any change in bird activity.
Birds can be selective when it comes to feeders. There may be a variety of factors influencing a bird's use of your feeder. You may simply be living in an area that doesn't attract birds as a result of few flowers, shrubs, and trees that they prefer. Conversely, you may live in an area that has many food options and they are happy where they are currently feeding. Another influential factor might be your seed selection. If you are using a seed mix that is specific to certain birds, other species may have moved to a different location. To attract a greater variety of birds, clean your feeder thoroughly and replace the seed mix with something that appeals to more birds, such as black oil sunflower seed. If you have just put out a window feeder, it may take a month or more before the birds to discover and trust your feeder.