Hand-Feed Birds

Hand-Feed Birds

I discovered a few years ago the pleasure of feeding wild birds in the palm of my hand. Today, I share this wonderful activity with you.

At Home

My contact with birds began when, as a child, I tamed my domestic parakeet. To slowly gain the trust of a small feathered creature is a challenge that requires gentleness and patience. Achieving success is all the more rewarding.

Parakeet
Parakeet

In Nature

With regard to wild birds, I discovered that it was possible to feed them by hand during a visit to the Marais du Nord. In some natural parks, even if it is often forbidden, many people have taken the habit of offering food to birds and these are easier to approach.

Attracting Wild Birds

According to the book “Hand-feeding Backyard Birds”, with patience you can manage to hand-feed birds of all kinds.

Taming Little by Little

The book explains that when you want to do it in a place where birds are not used to hand-feeding, you have to start by leaving seeds on the ground. The next time, you will leave food again at the same location while staying still nearby. You have to begin with standing a few feet away. At each visit, you will be able to stand closer and closer. Finally, when the birds are accustomed to your presence, you’ll have to put the seeds in your hand rather than on the ground and stretch it out in front of you, staying still. Eventually, one of them (most likely a chickadee) will find the courage to land on your hand.

Still according to the book, it is better to try to hand-feed the birds from autumn to early spring. In summer, the food is plentiful and the birds may ignore you. The absolute best time would be the day after an ice storm, because when the trees are covered with frost, it is difficult for birds to find insects or other food sources.

Food

The choice of food will of course depend on the species you want to feed. A mixture for wild birds bought in a store usually does the trick. Sunflower seeds, peanuts and broken walnuts are excellent choices for a variety of birds.

My Experience

I went to the Domaine de Maizerets to feed the birds with Auronaut. It is a good place because many visitors feed the birds and they are used to human presence. We quickly managed to attract black-capped chickadees. A downy woodpecker peak even came only a few meters away from me.

Black-capped Chickadee
Black-capped Chickadee
Flying Away
Flying Away

In much of the east, we can easily attract black-capped chickadees. In Quebec there are also white-breasted nuthatch that are not too shy. I have often fed them at the on Marais du Nord.

Larger birds such as the downy woodpecker and the blue jay prefer peanuts. Only once, I managed to give a blue jay a peanut by holding it high to the sky. It almost caught it in flight, only using my hand to bounce back. I hope to eventually be able to hand-feed a woodpecker. You can see the one that came the closest to me in the picture below.

Downy woodpecker
Downy woodpecker

Challenge for YOU

Go ahead, attract a bird with a handful of seeds and nuts! You’ll see, it’s magic! Take a picture if you can.

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