Updated at: 09-08-2022 - By: Jane Brody

While it’s great to offer wild birds their preferred seeds, peanuts, and suet, you don’t need a feeder of any type.

If you want to attract birds but don’t want to hang a feeder from a pole or limb, you can use a dish to provide them with food and water instead. Placement options for the dish include both ground-level and elevated settings, with the latter attracting a more diverse array of backyard birds.

How To Attract Birds Without A Feeder

If you don’t have a visible bird feeder in your yard, the birds may have a harder time finding the food you leave out.

Choose a dish that stands out, preferably one that is brightly colored, and use it to hold seeds, nuts, suet, and the occasional glass of water, or use two shallow dishes side by side.

Since birds can’t smell or hear, they’ll have to rely on their sense of sight to find the bird food in your yard. This means that birds will be more likely to land in your yard if there’s bird food facing up, and that birds flying overhead will be more likely to stop if they see bird food facing down.

Finches, sparrows, robins, bluebirds, jays, cardinals, and warblers are just a few of the many species of birds that will eat from these feeders.

The Hummingbirds in particular will avoid the nectar unless it is provided by a feeder, which is bad news for the Orioles.

Another drawback is that insects may soon be observed swarming on the bird food if the feeder is not hung off the ground, where it can be easily reached by pets and pests.

Squirrels will be seen to steal all the bird food, especially peanuts, whenever a bird feeder isn’t set up off the ground, which can be a problem if there is a rat problem in the neighborhood.

There are several advantages to not using a bird feeder at all, such as the fact that a single dish can serve as a replacement for all the various parts of a bird feeder over and over again, providing the birds with both food and water.

Utilize multi-use bird bath

If you absolutely refuse to use or invest in any form of bird feeder, perhaps you have a bird bath or can make your own water bowl to attract birds to your yard.

You may, on the other hand, be unwilling to spend money on backyard birding equipment; in that case, it will be much more challenging to attract birds to your yard if you don’t have a feeder set up.

Keeping this in mind, it won’t hurt to provide some water for the local wildlife.

If you can draw birds to a water supply, such as water placed in a shallow bowl, then there’s no reason you can’t also attract neighboring birds to a food source, provided the food is placed in a suitable location.

You can entice birds to your yard by providing them with food or water, though the latter is typically overlooked in favor of the former.

You can use a regular bowl or dish instead, which is easier to clean and maintain, and invite local birds to perch or land on top to feed.

Add bird food on elevated areas

How To Attract Birds Without A Feeder-2

Although it won’t be simple to attract wild birds to your yard without a bird feeder hung from a pole or tree, it’s certainly not impossible if you’re willing to put in the time and effort.

You see, certain types of birds prefer to feed high off the ground, and this is why having a bird feeder hanging or mounted can help attract more of these birds.

Since ground feeders make up such a small percentage of all birds, you’ll need to focus on those who prefer to feed from higher perches throughout the yard.

If you don’t have a bird feeder, I recommend scattering nuts, seeds, and mealworms on perches throughout your yard.

The majority of birds do not mind perching on manmade structures such as fence posts, tree branches, garden furniture, or even the roof of a shed or garage to get their food.

This is a great technique to entice Northern Cardinals and other large birds like Blue Jays into your yard, but keep in mind that these birds may be less successful at feeders than smaller birds due to their size.

Then, disperse a wide variety of bird seed on platforms at various heights throughout the yard, keeping in mind that the seed should be easily available but not in the way.

Dump bird seeds on ground

Birds that eat on the ground can be attracted without a feeder by providing a suitable eating area for the species you want to attract.

Lawn, if you have access to it, is the best place for our native birds to forage for food. In the absence of a lawn, any patch of grass will do, as will a deck or patio, provided it is in a well-lit area.

Sparrows, bluebirds, robins, bluejays, and cardinals, among many other ground-feeding birds, will quickly devour whatever bird food you scatter on the ground.

To attract birds to your yard, simply dump some bird seed on the ground in areas that are well-lit or where you notice them frequently congregating.

A wide variety of birds eat seeds in the wild, so providing them as a food source in a backyard feeder will attract a lot of birds. When you lead birds to the ground, instead of attracting a variety of species like you would with feeders, you can end up with a more limited selection of birds.

One drawback of ground-only feeding methods is that they exclude many bird species.

Grow wild bird attracting flowers

How To Attract Birds Without A Feeder-3

The planting of wildflowers in your yard is a more radical idea that nevertheless requires dedication on your part.

Flowers that do yield the thistle seeds or sunflower seeds found in bird mixes cannot be substituted for bird feeders since they are not consumed by seed-eating birds in the wild.

Excessive True, but with time and a summer garden full of beautiful flowers, birds will find their way to your yard out of pure natural curiosity and a need to dine.

More birds are likely to visit your yard if you plant a variety of native wildflowers, because many insects are attracted to the blooms.

Insects like flies that visit your flowers rather than your bird feeder are good for your birds.

There’s no reason to wait when you can buy pre-planted pots of bird-attracting flowers or plants from a garden center, or grow plants in planters without preparing a garden plot.


If you want to attract birds but don’t have a feeder, a bird bath can serve double duty as a watering hole and a food source.

A bird bath isn’t necessary, especially if you can use an old, shallow plate or bowl instead. You can use it as a water bowl on occasion, but you should really utilize it for feeding wild birds of all kinds.

The combined bird bath and feeder may then be set up wherever you have room for it with minimal effort on your part.

To attract the greatest variety of birds, place this dual-purpose bird bath and feeder in a prominent location in your yard that gets plenty of direct sunlight or artificial illumination.

If you keep your dish for feeding birds on the ground, you’ll attract a wide variety of birds, and you’ll also benefit from just scattering bird seed on the ground.

To attract a variety of birds, simply dump bird food, such as bird seeds or mealworms, either live or dry.

You can rely on nature to provide for the birds in your garden if you don’t have a bird feeder by cultivating seed or insect-attracting plants in planters or directly in the soil in a sunny area of your lawn.

Sunflowers, which produce seeds, will be quite fashionable, as their kernels are commonly included in wild bird food blends.

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