Updated at: 12-08-2022 - By: Jane Brody

What to do if you don’t have a bird feeder and you want to feed the birds

Bird feeders are wonderful for avoiding bird food from spoiling so rapidly, but other than that, they aren’t always a guiding light.

If you want to learn how to feed birds without a bird feeder, a hefty porcelain cereal bowl would work well to contain the wild bird food. Many species of birds are unable to utilize a bird feeder, and as a result, they often go hungry.

How To Attract Birds Without A Feeder

Even if there are bird feeders in the yard, there are times when putting out food for the birds without using one is the best option.

It is against the nature of some birds to try to feed from a bird feeder.

Even while a bird feeder will at least keep bird food dry, it is better to hang it up so that birds of all types can benefit from it.

It’s not that I think bird feeders are harmful; on the contrary, I think they have more benefits than harms. However, I find that putting out food for birds on a platform feeder is the most effective method.

Only pole-mounted bird feeders can keep squirrels at bay, therefore it’s not a good idea to feed birds without one.

If you don’t have a bird feeder, you may always use a dish to provide the birds food.

This can assist keep wild bird food organized so that you can tell when and what kind of bird food needs to be replenished.

Birds will take seeds off of your hand or off the ground, so there’s no need for a bowl. Because peanuts quickly go rancid, you should never put them on the ground to feed the birds.

I don’t think it’s possible to feed hummingbirds without a feeder, and I don’t think you can feed birds without a feeder, either. Which is true only of the common backyard birds that consume things like nuts, insects, and seeds.

Designate a cereal bowl

If you don’t have a bird feeder handy, you may always use an old or unused bowl of cereal as a temporary feeder for the birds.

Because of their weight, ceramic bowls are ideal for feeding wild birds because you don’t have to worry about them toppling over.

To attract birds to your yard, you can fill it with whatever kind of wild bird food you like and set it up there. In other words, the birds won’t stand on the edge of the bowl to eat from it; instead, they’ll perch on the rim.

And since it’s made of ceramic, it won’t break in the rain or snow, so it may be used year-round (at least until a more suitable wild bird bowl is discovered).

Having a bird feeder around can be quite useful. I won’t argue with that, but I would say that using just a cereal bowl makes things a lot simpler for me, both in terms of use and cleanup.

Now, you shouldn’t put your bowl of cereal on the ground unless you want to attract ground-feeding birds.

Put the bowl with the wild bird food in it on a raised platform somewhere in the yard so that it is visible and can be reached at all times by the birds that want to eat from it.

Bird food on ground is effective

How To Attract Birds Without A Feeder-2

Sometimes a flock of birds may stop by your yard on their way to somewhere else to feed, and then they’ll take off again just as fast, leaving you to wonder how you missed such a golden opportunity.

If you choose to feed birds by putting out a bowl of cereal, you may notice that birds will make brief visits throughout the day.

You can improve upon this by additionally scattering bird seed on the ground, as this is where the birds that consume it are most likely to forage.

If you’re going to feed birds without a feeder, you may as well use a cereal bowl to maximize the number of birds that can feed at once rather than scattering seed all over the lawn.

Birds that normally dine on the ground, such as Blue Jays and Northern Cardinals, may not want to, or be able to, eat from a perch because of their size and lack of agility.

While Bluebirds and American Robins can be attracted to a bird feeder by scattering seeds on the ground for them to find, House Finches and Goldfinches have been observed eating directly from the bowl hung from a tree branch.

That way, the birds may all get fed in an environment that is comparable to what they would find in the wild.

If you don’t utilize bird feeders, the pigeons will eat the bird seed and peanuts you put out for your feathered friends. Because of this, you should put off feeding the birds for the time being.

Bundle bird seed on branches

If you’re looking for a solution, perhaps learning how to feed birds without using a bird feeder will do the trick.

However, it’s not as it can help more species of birds because they don’t do well at bird feeders and are never observed using them.

The majority of birds in the wild look for food on the ground, among shrubs, and in the spaces between and among the branches of trees.

Put together bundles of seed mixtures and hang them from tree branches; the birds will like it.

Make sure the seeds can be seen while yet remaining in a cluster so that birds may easily access them. The birds won’t have to expend any additional effort, and you’ll be able to monitor the amount of seed that is consumed.

There is no need to worry if you don’t have a tree in your yard; as long as you have some grass, at least, you can keep the bird seed bundled together.

To avoid cluttering the yard with wasted bird seed, avoid scattering it on the ground.

Stack nuts on flat surface

How To Attract Birds Without A Feeder-3

I think your peanuts will be eaten considerably more slowly than any other wild bird food, thus you can get away with offering them even if you don’t have a peanut feeder.

This time, you’ll need to locate a level area of yard on which to stack peanuts.

If the area is free of rodents and other pests, you can use the garbage can lid as a table.

Larger, less agile birds, like Blue Jays and Cardinals, would gladly jump up on a fence or a tree to reach the nuts you’ve put out for them.

The nuts will be more likely to be eaten this manner than if they were left in a secret location where they would go to waste.

You’ll need that smooth surface since peanuts have a tendency to roll away.

Sure, peanuts or a combination of nuts can be added to a bowl to go along with my suggestion of presenting a wide variety of bird food in an unused cereal dish.

Nuts rot much more quickly than seeds, thus they should be stored and served in a different way than the latter (over the ground), but they can still be displayed for visual interest in the yard.

Site bird food mixes on low roof

Because of the potential for injury, providing bird food in open containers on the ground is being replaced with the safer option of putting it on a roof.

However, if you have access to a low-hanging roof, such as that of a shed, outbuilding, or gazebo, you can use it to provide more wild bird food.

Bird seed can be added directly to a tile roof, but for wood or even tile roofs, I recommend using a cereal bowl to retain the seed and prevent it from falling off the roof.

There can be no dogs or vermin on this roof, lest you end up feeding them like you would backyard birds.

To maintain a clear view of the bird feeder, place it on a shady roof.

If you want to feed bread to wild birds, the best place to do it is on top of a building, as dropping bread on the ground can quickly become a health risk for the birds.

Using a bird feeder, you won’t even have to consider presenting such a treat to lure birds into your yard for the sole purpose of eating.

No forgetting insect eating birds

Many of the birds that visit our yards do so in order to feast on the invertebrates, such earthworms, that are removed from the grass as part of their natural diet.

For this reason, I suggest providing a source of dry or live mealworms for the birds on the grass, where a bird feeder isn’t necessary.

Using live mealworms is the best technique to attract birds without a feeder, since the writhing mealworms will draw the attention of any passing or short-stay ground-eating birds from several feet away.

In general, people don’t bother with live mealworms because they wouldn’t work in a bird feeder.

Keeping this in mind, employing live mealworms is a great strategy, as you can expect to see more birds than usual.

Dried mealworms are a great alternative to fresh ones because they don’t have the same ick factor.

The birds probably won’t eat mealworms from a feeder, but they might from a dish, so why not put some out in that cereal bowl I keep bringing up? That way you can be sure they’ll be seen by the birds in the areas where they regularly browse on your grass.


Bird food is still used, but it would be supplied in a cereal bowl instead of a bird feeder, saving you a lot of money and time.

You and your family would never use the old cereal bowl again, but it would be perfect for feeding birds.

Like a traditional bird feeder, a heavy porcelain bowl can be used to store bird food, but instead of hanging from a tree, it should be placed on a flat surface so that the food is always within easy reach.

A cereal dish can serve as a bird feeder, but it will need to be cleaned on a regular basis.

If you want to attract birds that eat food off the ground, you can put the cereal bowl on the grass, however you can also do without it.

If you want to attract birds that only eat from the ground, you’ll need to scatter seed mixes around the lawn.

Foraging in and among tree branches is a bird’s idea of heaven, so if you have one in your yard, count yourself lucky. Placing a cluster of bird seed in a crack or on top of a sturdy branch allows the birds to pick and choose what they want to eat.

Unlike seeds, nuts decay quickly, so if you want to attract birds that eat them, it’s best to scatter them somewhere flat, such on a piece of patio furniture.

This entire assembly, along with any leftovers from the kitchen, can be neatly stored on top of a low roof, and the cereal bowl can be used to contain the clutter.

Live mealworms will attract more birds than you can count when offered in a bird feeder, but the canned variety will work just well.

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