Einhard Registered User
#1

This might seem like a totally neb question, but I'm curious as to how birds know there's seed in garden feeders. I've been putting them up recently, and when they're empty there's scarcely a bird to be seen, but within minites of refilling them, I'll have crowds flocing around the place. I googled it, and there's not much by way of an explanation, but apparently birds have a poor sense of smell and operate mostly by sight. So, can they see that there are seeds there? Is it as simple as that?

swifts need our help! Registered User
#2

Birds check my empty feeders most days. I suppose they watch each other

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WildIreland Registered User
#3

Yup... it only takes one or two passing or visiting birds to notice the feeders are full -- as soon as they start feeding their activity acts like a beacon to others and it snowballs from there.

Amazing how quickly they home in on a free meal, isn't it :-)

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sbsquarepants Registered User
#4

I'm no expert, but i think the simple answer is they see it there! A lot of birds have quite exceptional eyesight (some can even see in UV!) and they also watch out for what other birds are doing in the hunt for a feed. It a dog bird eat dog bird world out there!

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WildIreland Registered User
#5

sbsquarepants said:
I'm no expert, but i think the simple answer is they see it there! A lot of birds have quite exceptional eyesight (some can even see in UV!) and they also watch out for what other birds are doing in the hunt for a feed. It a dog bird eat dog bird world out there!


Some times are more "bird eat bird" than others -- like when this fella drops in to the feeders:


Sparrowhawk by Ireland's Wildlife, on Flickr

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Maudi Registered User
#6

WildIreland said:
Yup... it only takes one or two passing or visiting birds to notice the feeders are full -- as soon as they start feeding their activity acts like a beacon to others and it snowballs from there.

Amazing how quickly they home in on a free meal, isn't it :-)

i love the way the starling arrive in a big boisterous mob all loud and showy.and wreck the place..tits gently but thoroughly eat everything.and the pair of doves that come to mine land so delicately take the fallen seeds and fly off if a leaf moves..then the magpies!!!one distracts the dog while the other eats from his bowl!

human 19 Registered User
#7

Maudi said:
then the magpies!!!one distracts the dog while the other eats from his bowl!


Brilliant! I hear they are very intelligent for birds. Its surprising to think that when I see them strolling casually past the cat.

Back to the OP...they may have learnt that when they see you around the feeder ( and they would spot it from a distance) the know food will be available.

I only have to open my back door in the morning for about 15 chaffinches to make a beeline for the nearest waiting point on the fence, to wait for food.

CJhaughey Registered User
#8

You can see the behaviour that birds use watching seabirds at sea.
Most of the time the birds are dispersed over a huge area and each bird watches the bird closest to itself.
Once a trawler starts sorting the catch the closest birds notice and move close to feed on the discards.
The birds next to them see their neighbours disappearing towards the boat and follow them etc, etc.

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