|Most people have bird feeders in their back yards, but few have ever tried to supply the food from their hand.
If you are an aspiring hand-feeder, the best time of year to begin this endeavor is from October to March, as the insects have gone
into hibernation. After the birds become friendly, it can be carried out through the summer as well.
Feeding birds from your hand requires a lot of persistence and cold tolerance. If you have the desire, it can be
achieved. To begin, find a place that is comfortable to lean or sit in a chair about fifteen feet away from your feeder. Stay there 5-10
minutes every day you can. Within several days you should see the birds become more comfortable with you around the feeder and
start coming and going as they did before. When this happens, move closer to a distance of about five feet from the feeder. The
birds may seem leery to come and eat, but continue sitting as still as possible and they will eventually warm up to your presence.
Once they begin to eat at the feeder again, it is time to move even closer. Stand beside the feeder with your hand resting on it and
plenty of food on the opposite side of the feeder. Once again the birds will not immediately come to eat, but keep standing still until
they do. If you get tired, take a break for a couple of minutes and go inside to rest your arm and warm up. When the birds are
comfortable with your arm on the feeder, the time has come to try your hand at feeding them on your fingertips. The night before the
big day, remove all the feed from your feeder so the birds will be hungry and ready for breakfast.
In the morning, stand a couple feet away from the feeder with a few nut meats and sunflower seeds on your hand;
this is when your patience really pays off. At first the birds will fly to the empty feeder surveying the scene and maybe fly to a nearby
bush or tree. Eventually, if you are patient enough, they will come and flutter over your head; they make take a seed on flight;
eventually, they will land on your hand only to immediately jump back off. A bird has never felt the texture of a human hand, and the
first feeling of it is a little startling for him as it does not feel in the least like a twig or bark. Without their early morning food as usual,
the birds will be hungry enough to come back for another try and before long after taking a piece of food mid-flight, will eventually land
on your hand. Boy, what a thrilling experience that is!
Most likely, your first bird that comes along will be either a chickadee or a titmouse as they seem to be the most
friendly and curious of all. My first friend was a titmouse but I have had both to come. Once, while wearing a hat and sitting down with
some well-placed seed on the brim, I waited for the chickadees and titmice to come. Along came a red bellied woodpecker and
alighted on the top of my hat searching for sunflower seeds! What a surprise!
Whatever you do, once a wild bird is upon your hand, never close your hand around it or you will never be able to
hand tame that bird again. After the first bird has alighted, if you must, go inside to warm up and take a short break. If you do not
need a rest, continue to stand as still as you can. It is a good idea to wear a scarf around your neck, for if a bird sees you swallow, he
may think you are going to eat him. Swallowing is what bird’s predators do before they pounce! You can be sure that if you stand still,
your feathered friend will soon be back for more food, bringing along his friends to join in the feast!
Good luck birding!
One Christmas years ago, I received a book entitled, “Hand-Taming Wild Birds at the Feeder" by Alfred G. Martin. After
reading and thoroughly enjoying it from cover to cover, I was eager to try my hand at taming wild birds. Upon first attempt as a young girl
of little feet alighting on my fingertips! Years later and still going strong, we were able to capture pictures of a friendly little fellow as he
came to feed from our hands.
|How We Hand Tame Wild Birds