What Time Of Day Do Birds Feed? (Surprising ANSWER!)


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 bird feeding timings in a day. Read on!

What Time of Day Do Birds Feed? – Project FeederWatch Data Analysis

While doing my research, I discovered Project FeederWatch, a program where thousands of volunteers monitor their backyards for birds each year.

It is organized by Birds Canada and Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Check it out if you want!

Here are the results of my analysis:

Bird feeding timings by AM/PM

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

A screenshot of what the Cornell FeederWatch Cam looks like on YouTube

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:

  1. Scan through a day’s worth of Cornell Lab FeederWatch Cam
  2. Record the number of feeding birds for the first 15 minutes for every hour from 6 am (sunrise) to 8 pm (sunset)
  3. 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!

The Results

Here’s a table of the number of birds that were feeding at different times of a day:

Time of DayTotal Number of Birds Feeding% of Day’s Total
6 am414.6
7 am839.3
8 am9110.2
9 am889.9
10 am9510.7
11 am445
12 pm657.3
1 pm809
2 pm707.9
3 pm566.3
4 pm647.2
5 pm475.3
6 pm323.6
7 pm141.6
8 pm182

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!

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:

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 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.

Final Thoughts

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 all brands I trust and love.

Although some may be affiliate links, I will only recommend those that I think are of great value. Simply purchasing using the links helps to keep this blog running!

  • My Binoculars: The pair of binoculars that I personally use is the Celestron Nature DX 8×42 Binoculars. It’s a great budget pair for beginner birders. Highly valued for its price! Read my review here.
  • Safe Paint for Bird Baths: Not any paint can be used to paint bird baths. Links to all safe paint for bird baths are in this article I wrote!
  • Safe Sealers for Bird Baths: Not all sealers can be used to paint bird baths. Links to all sealers for bird baths are in this article I wrote!
  • Safe Paint for Bird Feeders: Special care needs to be taken to paint bird feeders with the right paint. Read more in the article here!
  • Safe Paint for Birdhouses: Not any paint can be used to paint birdhouses. Links to all safe paint for birdhouses are in this article I wrote!
  • Birding Apps: 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 to track the birds sighted when birding. Read a post about them here.
  • Birding Websites: I’ve compiled a list of links to my top 10 recommended birding websites in a blog post. Find the links here!
  • Birding Podcasts: Birding podcasts are a great way to learn about birds. Links to the top 8 that I recommend can be found here!

Alternatively, you can check out my resources page here where I’ve compiled all the links to the above!

Justin

Justin is a hobbyist birder that hopes to share his birding knowledge with the world. His favorite bird is the Large-tailed Nightjar and he really loves potato chips!

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