Maybe you’ve set up a bird feeder in your backyard and wondered: “What time of day do birds feed?” I was curious too!
So I did my own research and found a definitive answer!
Here’s what I found:
Birds feed at all times of the day. Birds feed the most in the late mornings at around 10 AM and much lesser during evening time and night time. The time of day birds feed depends on the seasons, the weather, and whether the bird is diurnal or nocturnal.
Now you know that birds feed throughout the day! Now if you read on, I’ll explain my answer AND cover the factors that affect wild birds’ feeding timings in a day.
Read on for more information!
What Time of Day Do Birds Feed?
While doing my research, I discovered Project FeederWatch, a program where thousands of volunteers monitor their backyards for birds each year.
Here are the results of my analysis:
As seen in the pie chart above, the difference in bird feeding timings between mornings (53.7%) and afternoons (46.3%) is very minimal. Birds feed only 7.6% more in the mornings than in the afternoons.
However, one conclusion is very apparent! Birds feed both in the mornings AND in the afternoons!
Now that’s an interesting find that I could not have done myself. However, I wanted to delve a little deeper to find out a more exact timing.
Here’s what I did next:
What Time of Day Do Birds Feed The Most? – A Community Poll
After discovering that birds feed more during the mornings, I still didn’t know a more specific time birds feed during the day.
So I took things further and started a Facebook community poll!
So, I asked some fellow birders from the Backyard Birdwatching Facebook group this question: “What time of day do you see birds at your feeders?”.
I then waited for a couple of days before collating the results. Here’s what everyone answered:
Many thanks to those who have helped respond to the poll! I learned a lot about the time of day that birds feed on their feeders. I realized that it can be organized a little neater, so I put it into a nice graph to look at for easy reference:
From the graph above collected from those who participated in the bird feeding poll, we can see that birds feed more in the mornings than during other times of the day.
The highest number of votes for birds feeding in the mornings was the highest at 18, followed by 15 and 13 for the late afternoons and late mornings respectively.
Oh, and if you’re wondering how many bird feeders you’ll need to get birds to come often, check out this article I wrote all about it here!
To get a sense of the proportions of bird feeding times in a day, I made a pie chart below:
The majority of birds seen feeding at feeders were in the morning, reaching its peak at 33% in the early mornings (sunrise – 9am). Late afternoons are also peak periods where birds visit feeders to feed at 27% during the day. Birds hardly feed at bird feeders at night at only 5% of the time during a day.
In conclusion, we can see that birds tend to feed more in the early mornings and late afternoons! What an interesting find!
I also found that some backyard birders observed birds at their feeders at night. Although low, this also means that birds do feed at night, but to a lesser extent than during the day!
If you’re getting inpatient and just need to get an idea of how long birds take to find a new feeder, check out this post I wrote all about it!
Cornell FeederWatch Cam Feeding Timings – My Experiment
All that analysis, and I still wasn’t satisfied with the answers I got.
This time, I wanted to take things into my own hands, rather than to rely on aggregated data from other backyard birders. I wanted to look at the feeding times of birds further into the woods.
After thinking about how to collect data effectively, I discovered the Cornell Lab FeederWatch Live Cam at Sapsucker Woods, New York, USA.
It’s a live bird feeder cam that is run by the cool folks at Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Here’s the YouTube live stream:
Here’s what I decided to do:
- Scan through a day’s worth of Cornell Lab FeederWatch Cam
- Record the number of feeding birds for the first 15 minutes for every hour from 6 am (sunrise) to 8 pm (sunset)
- Plot the results here!
And so I recorded counted the birds manually, only by one!
As I didn’t want to sit in front of the computer and count birds the whole day, I tabulated the number of birds on the feeder for the first 15 minutes for each hour!
Here’s a table of the number of birds that were feeding at different times of a day:
|Time of Day||Total Number of Birds Feeding||% of Day’s Total|
I made an INTERACTIVE graph so you can see the feeding pattern more closely:
You’ll notice that the graphs above are INTERACTIVE! So do make sure to mouse over the bars and even click on them to filter the data by day period of by the hour.
As seen above, birds begin feeding at sunrise to sunset, starting at 6 am and stop at 8 pm. Birds feed the most in the late mornings, reaching their peak at 10 am. The feeding trend then decreases by the hour until the late evenings, when birds begin to feed again at a small high again at 4 pm!
Bird feeders attract birds the most in the morning!
Now, this is really cool stuff! I’m actually surprised at how interesting it is to discover such unrecorded insights! I’m really happy to share this with you.
The results also make sense, given that after birds wake up, they need to start feeding to keep up with their high metabolism throughout the day.
What Time Do Birds Eat In The Morning?
Most birds eat in the morning at around 10 AM. However, birds start eating more from 7 AM to 10 AM, reaching their peak at 10 AM. At 10 AM, birds eat around 10.7% of the day’s total feeding instances.
Here’s an interactive graph to sum it up:
So if you want to feed birds of different bird species, the best time is in the late mornings, as they generally feed around that time of day!
If you’re wondering what time birds wake up, check out this article I wrote!
Do Birds Come To Feeders At Night?
Birds do go to feeders at night. However, birds go to feeders much less often at night than during the day because they are mostly diurnal. From a poll among birders, birds were observed feeding at bird feeders about only 5% of the time.
However, in my personal experiment, I only noticed mice and squirrels frequenting the Cornell FeederWatch Cam at night to grab a late-night snack.
No birds were feeding at night. Of course, as I did the experiment for only one day, there could be possibilities of birds feeding on feeders at night that I didn’t manage to detect.
Check on an article I wrote on whether birds fly at night here
Factors That Affect Bird Feeding Timings
You might be wondering if there are any factors that affect bird feeding timings. Yes, there are factors that will affect their feeding timings!
Factors that affect bird feeding timings include the weather, the season, and the diurnality or nocturnality of the birds. In addition, birds are heavily influenced by the daylight schedules for their routines, so it influences the timing that they feed.
I’ll describe the 3 factors affecting bird feeding timings in detail here:
1) The Weather
The weather can affect bird feeding timings. When I was looking through the Cornell FeederWatch bird feeder cam, I realized that during periods of heavier rain downpour, there were fewer birds that went to the feeder to grab a snack.
As such, certain feeding timings can have lesser birds feeding than others.
2) The Seasons
Birds tend to feed during periods when there is sunlight so they can see.
During the winter months when daylight is shorter, birds feeding timings become less frequent and will change to suit the shorter daylight hours.
During the summer months when daylight hours are longer, birds will spend a long time feeding and will have feeding timings that extend to whenever they are able to see during the day.
When I was watching the Cornell FeederWatch Cam, I confirmed that birds only went to feeders when there was enough sunlight for them to be able to see!
3) Whether The Bird Is Diurnal Or Nocturnal
Have you ever heard of the terms diurnality and nocturnality? Let me explain here simply. According to Wikipedia:
Diurnality is a form of plant and animal behavior characterized by activity during daytime, with a period of sleeping or other inactivity at night.Wikipedia
Nocturnality is an animal behavior characterized by being active during the night and sleeping during the day.Wikipedia
Basically, if a bird is a diurnal bird, it stays awake during the day and sleeps at night. This means that it will hunt for bird food and feed during the day more often. The majority of birds fall within this group.
Examples of diurnal birds include cardinals, orioles, robins, sparrows, eagles, and ducks.
If a bird is a nocturnal bird, it wakes up during the night time and sleeps when the sun rises in the day. This means that it will begin hunting for food at dusk and dawn, where light is present but still dim.
Examples of nocturnal birds include owls, nighthawks, nightjars, and nightingales.
Do Birds Eat At Certain Times?
Birds do eat at certain times. Birds eat the most during late mornings at 10% of bird feeding timings throughout the day. Birds eat much lesser during afternoons, evening times, and the least at nighttime.
What Time Do Birds Come To Feeders?
Birds come to feeders at all times of the day. However, come to feeders the most in the late mornings at 10 AM. Birds come to feeders much lesser during evening time and night time. The time of day birds come to feeders depends on the seasons, the weather, and whether the birds are diurnal or nocturnal.
Do Birds Feed At Certain Times Of The Day?
Birds do feed at certain times of the day. Birds feed the most in the late mornings at 10 AM. Birds feed much lesser during evening time and night time. The time of day birds come to feeders depends on the seasons, the weather, and whether the birds are diurnal or nocturnal.
What Time Do Birds Feed In The Morning?
Birds feed in the morning at 10 AM. Although birds feed throughout the entire morning, they feed the most during late mornings, reaching their peak at 10 AM. The time that birds feed in the morning varies with the seasons, the weather, and whether the birds are diurnal or nocturnal.
Also, if you’re curious why birds chirp in the morning, read this article where I cover it in detail!
Do Birds Use Feeders All Day?
Birds do use feeders all day. However, use feeders the most at 10 AM in the morning. Birds use feeders much lesser during evening time and night time. The time of day that birds use feeders in the morning varies with the seasons, the weather, and whether the birds are diurnal or nocturnal.
Do Birds Feed All Day?
Birds do feed all day. However, birds feed the most at 10 AM in the morning. Birds feed much lesser during evening time and night time. The time of day that birds feed in the morning varies with the seasons, the weather, and whether the birds are diurnal or nocturnal.
Now you have learned about the time of day the birds feed the most: early mornings! Birds still feed at other times of the day, including the nighttime, but to a much lesser extent than in the daytime.
I hope you have learned something from all my analysis of bird feeding timings and hope you’ve found this article insightful. Thanks for reading and happy birding!
My Recommended Birding Resources:
Hey there, Justin here!
Here’s a list of all my favorite resources, products, and brands I trust and love.
Safe Paint for Bird Baths Guide: Learn about non-toxic paint for painting bird baths.
Safe Sealers for Bird Baths Guide: Learn which sealers are safe for bird baths.
Safe Paint for Bird Feeders Guide: Learn what special care needs to be taken to paint bird feeders with the right paint.
Safe Paint for Birdhouses Guide: Learn about non-toxic paint for painting birdhouses. (Not the same as bird baths!)
Bird Identification Apps Guide: 2 of my favorite birding apps are Merlin Bird ID, and eBird Mobile! Merlin is great for tracking and identifying birds, and eBird Mobile is great for tracking the birds sighted when birding.
Check out my resources page for the full list of resources I recommend!
Justin is the founder and author of Birding Outdoors. He is a Nanyang Technological University (NTU) alumnus with a Bachelor of Biological Sciences and a former data analyst.
Now, Justin runs the Birding Outdoors blog full-time, hoping to share his deep love for birds, birding, and nature with others.
To unwind, Justin enjoys gaming and reading.