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article imageFeed Wild Birds by Hand

By Chris V. Thangham     Jun 9, 2007 in Environment
Feeding wild birds like Chickadees, Finches, Nuthatches is not a rocket science, with patience and in a week's time of practice it is easy to do. Once the birds trusts you, then they will feed from the hands without hesitation.
For years I half-heartedly fed the wild birds at my decorative feeders. I thought it was an interesting way to liven up the yard from time to time.
But that mindset changed one day when a chickadee landed on my daughter's shoulder...
Here's how she started feeding birds by hand..
The author says feeding birds by hand is not a rocket science, with patience, one can easily do it. She learned it from her daughter, who used to keep some sunflower seeds in her coat packet and drop them in the ground near her bus stop. Whenever she drops the bird seeds, birds like chickadee would come and eat it. Within few days she made the birds eat the seeds from her hand.
These chickadees then will wait for her just around the “bus stop time” and eat the seeds from her hand as a routine. Sometimes they will just land on her shoulders, even when she didn’t have the seeds.
The author practiced doing the same and comes with a general method for others to follow. She said it requires about a week’s time, 20 minutes each day and the ability to sit still. Once the birds trust the person, they will land near the feet or on the shoulders.
Here are the steps:
• Start with chickadees as they are the least timid.
• Use Sunflower seeds as they are easily recognizable to the chickadees and a favorite food. Squirrels like sunflower seeds also, sometimes they help opening the seeds for smaller birds. But they won’t come near you, which require a separate lesson.
• Plant yourself absolutely still in a chair, perhaps near a feeder in use that you've emptied for this 'training' time.
• Place 10-15 seeds at your feet about 2 feet away and stay with the birds until all those seeds are gone (especially if you have a prowling cat).
• For the next 2 days place the bird seed closer and closer, eventually working up to no seeds on the ground, only on your outstretched palm. (This is so exciting when they finally land on your hand and stay to eat, instead of the snatch and fly.)
She said once the chickadees do this, other birds like nuthatches and finches might do the same. She recommends thistle feed for the latter birds.
These steps are not hard to follow. I have bird feeders, but I always wanted to do this. I used to wonder, they have seen me doing this daily but yet they are scared. These techniques make sense.
Have you tried similar techniques like this before? Did it work?
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