Will Birds Return To Your Lawn If Your Feeders Go Empty While You're On Vacation?

For bird lovers who consistently put out food for their feathered friends and enjoy the benefits of having a bird feeder in their yard, it can be nerve-wracking to leave your home for an extended period. You may be concerned that the birds who regularly visit your feeders will go without food while you're on vacation or that if you leave the feeders empty, they'll never return to your yard. Thankfully, wild birds are extremely resourceful and will find other ways to eat while you're gone. It may take some time before your feathered friends come back to your feeder once you start filling it again, but they will eventually realize you are providing food.

According to the Humane Society of the United States, leaving your feeders empty for a little while shouldn't harm the birds: "In all but the most severe weather conditions, wild birds will find other food sources in your absence, particularly in suburban areas where other bird feeders are just a short flight away." However, the Humane Society suggests asking a friend or neighbor to tend to your feeders if you live in a less populated area and are leaving during winter.

How to manage bird feeders before going on vacation

If you're only going on a short vacation for a few days, the birds likely won't stop visiting your yard at all – especially if you leave a little extra seed for them. For those going away for a week or longer, you might want to consider filling your feeders to the brim before you leave, giving your feathered friends access to your food source for longer. Once you return home, inspect your feeders to see if they need to be cleaned before you refill them and wait for the birds to notice.

The exception to this is hummingbird feeders. In warmer weather, hummingbird nectar can spoil before the birds have a chance to drink it all, and if they continue returning to the feeder once the sugar water has gone bad, they could become ill. Additionally, in cold weather, your nectar could freeze, leaving the birds without a food source anyway.

When to expect birds to return to your feeder after a vacation

Depending on how long you're gone and when your feeder ran out of food, it could take no time at all, or a while, before your feathered friends return. Once your feeder is totally empty, birds will start looking for natural sources of food, like insects, and find other bird food in other lawns to enjoy. Though you may refill the feeder as soon as you come home from a long trip, your familiar feathered friends have likely already found new places to get a quick meal. This means that they have likely stopped checking your feeder, and it could take several days or longer before they notice it's full again.

One simple way to ensure your beloved wild birds continue frequenting your yard is by having a friend stop by to add more food to your feeders. If this isn't an option, there's no need to fret, as your feathered friends will come back eventually, as long as you put out more food.