what time of day are birds most active at feeders

What Time of Day Are Birds Most Active at Feeders?

When you set up a bird feeder, you expect to see birds at it right away. But if you are watching for birds at the wrong time, you might not see any. So what time of day are birds most active at feeders?

Your feeder is likely to be most active during the early and the later hours of the day.  Most songbirds are more active during dawn – you should aim to watch your bird feeder around 8am. You can also expect to see birds active at the feeder in the later parts of the afternoon – from around 2pm to 4pm.

Songbirds and smaller birds can also be more active during dusk. Let’s learn more about what time of day are birds most active at feeders.

What Time are Birds Most Active at Feeders?

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Birds are predictable, and with a little attention, it can be easy to predict their habits. A bird’s feeding habits can be particularly predictable. But, while some birds feed at specific times of the day only, others will scrounge throughout the day. Some birds, such as titmice and chickadees, will visit your feeder at any time of the day. 

If you want to include a feature to attract birds throughout the day, why not try a water feature? A water spot in your backyard will help ensure your backyard attracts birds throughout the day. 

When Can You Expect a Busy Bird Feeder?

Author Note: Is there a rulebook that birds follow? Certainly not. However, birds do tend to follow the same tendencies. Birds like jays, woodpeckers, and cardinals will usually visit your bird feeder after the mornings rush hour traffic.

This is probably a good thing considering jays are well known for their dominating behavior. If you only have a window of opportunity to view birds during your lunch hour break, don’t worry- you can still catch a few sightings. These same types of birds will visit the backyard feeder during the quiet midday. 

Common Yard Birds

Backyard bird feeders will be busy with common backyard birds during the mid-morning and mid-afternoon. If you seek a special view of a hummingbird or a cardinal, your best bet is to watch out for these birds in the early hours of the morning. 


Naturally, nature will play a large role in bird activity. If the weather is sweltering or there is heavy rain falling, it will affect your feeder activity. If your feeder offers some shelter from the shower, then you can expect to have an active feeder throughout the day.

If it is particularly hot, then your feeder and water spots will be busier than usual. The same is true for icy weather as well, as birds will save their energy and seek out the easiest food source. 

Birds of a Feather

Have you heard the saying’ birds of a feather, stick together?” Yes, of course you have. This saying might apply to humans, but it applies to birds too. Birds often search for food in small, loose groups. 

Some birds, such as Titmice and Chickadees, will stay in groups of up to 8 birds. Both Cardinals and Jays will also seek out the company in other birds of their same species. 

Don’t be surprised if birds come to your feeder in a flurry of activity when you least expect it. From one moment to the next, your feeder can be empty and then a flurry of activity. A group of birds can descend on your bird feeder in a flash, and if you run to the bathroom for 5 minutes, you could miss all the action. As quickly as the birds can arrive, they can leave. They often leave an empty bird feeder in their wake, and so you should be ready to refill for the next flurry of activity. 

The Woodpecker is the most unpredictable bird that will visit your backyard bird feeder. They are generally solitary feeders. It might also take a little bit more temptations to get them to visit you and your backyard. Try snacks such as suet or peanuts to entice the Woodpecker to come to the feeder.

Woodpeckers tend to find their favorite spots and then visit them in a quick, short succession of visits throughout the day. They are not fond of the early morning crowds, so if you can, fill the feeder with some peanuts to attract the Woodpecker. During nesting season, you may find more woodpeckers at the feeder as they scrounge for their young. 

How Do You Get Birds to Notice Your Bird Feeder?

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Author Note: Birds will typically use their eyes to locate food. Although small, their beady eyes are excellent at locating food. If you want to attract a high number of birds to your feeder, place it in an area where it is easy to spot.

This encourages the birds to come sooner rather than later, and as the birds begin to form feeding habits, they will return to your feeder day after day. If you have set up a new bird feeder, why not try sprinkling seeds on the top? This is sure to attract birds to the new feeder. 

Which Bird Feeder Attracts Most Birds?

The answer to this question depends on the type of bird you want to attract. If you are targeting ground-feeders, consider using a tray bird feeder to leave close to ground level. Ground feeders are a lovely group of birds to attract to your garden.

Tray feeders are a favorite amongst jays, doves, blackbirds, juncos, and sparrows. If you want to avoid pesky critters from stealing the seed, you can suspend it or mount the tray on a post or stump. 

Where is the Best Place to Hang a Bird Feeder?

If you want to hang a bird feeder in your garden, you’ll need to know where the best place to hang it is. Firstly, remember that you don’t want to make visiting birds an easy meal. So, always consider safety. If the birds feel too exposed to predators, they make visiting your feeder a habit. 

What makes a bird feel safe? Well, keep your feeder away from particularly noisy or open areas. Don’t hang the feeder too low or too high, either. Keep the feeder at eye level or a little higher (especially if you are a bit shorter). If you place your feeder too close to the ground, your pet cat will reach it too easily.

On the other hand, you should also not place it within easy reach for a hungry squirrel.

When To Watch Your Feeder

Pour yourself a cup of coffee, get comfy, and get ready to watch some birds. If you are not an early bird yourself, then it’s time to start- especially if you want the best bird watching. The mornings are the best time to see all kinds of species.

Ensure that you are ready for bird watching between 8 and 10, mostly from 8:30 and 9:30 am. This is the time of day when you will notice the most activity. 

Do you work from home? Then you should set up your home office close to a window where you can see the birds at the feeder. If you miss the 8:30 am to 9:30 am period, you could aim for between 11 am and 11:30 am, or pay attention in the later afternoon as well. 

What About Owls?

Photo by Amol Mande

As many people already know, owls are a nocturnal species. But just because they are mostly active at night doesn’t mean they aren’t a popular bird among enthusiasts. If you are looking for owls, the best time to spot them is as the sun is setting.

Owls are typically active during that magical time of day, as the sun sinks into the horizon and night descends. Owls are also active during the first couple of hours after the sun has set. After that, you might find it difficult to spot these awe-inspiring birds.

Author Note: Once the night begins to wear off, you could spot Owls during the dawn hours. And if you are lucky, you could spot an owl in the first light of day- but this is rare, so don’t count on it. 

Do Owls Come to Bird Feeders?

While owls might grace your garden with their presence, you will find it challenging to attract them to a feeder. This is because owls are predators and will not be interested in seeds. They may enjoy the birdbath, but this will only happen at night. You could find out if an owl visits your birdbath at night by setting up a motion sensor camera. With a camera, you will be able to catch the owls in action and see for yourself if you are lucky enough for an owl to consider your garden worth a visit. 


While each garden, region, and even species will differ, birds are typically most active in the early hours of the morning and late afternoon. This is even true for shorebirds. Setting up a bird feeder can encourage more birds to come to your yard.

Give yourself the extra advantage by getting to know what species of birds frequent your yard and area. Hang tray feeders at eye level to attract ground-feeding birds and sprinkle some seeds on the top to attract them.

Are you interested in owls? Set up a motion sensor camera to see if you get any owls that come to your birdbath at night. We hope you enjoyed this article on what time of day are birds most active at feeders.

Fly high friends!


What month is best for bird watching?

According to Audubon, the best month is May. Birds are still migrating, they are mating and just most active.

What time of day is best for bird photography?

Pretty much the same times as outline above. Your set up, however, has to take into account where the sun is to get the best position.

Are birds active in winter?

Bird watching is great in winter. They are all looking for territory and mates so they are very active.

Comments 2
  1. Thanks guys. The activity of birds can be described as diurnal or nocturnal; some are active during the day, while others hunt for food at night. I want to attract birds to my backyard so that is thing I wonder

  2. The answer is they will eat all day, but most birds would intentionally look for food as early as sunrise to late morning, then come back later in the afternoon. Take a look below at the major and minor feeding times of birds.

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