Imagine this: I’m at an afternoon party with friends and a cardinal lands on the deck railing just outside the patio door. The host takes a shelled peanut from a dish, opens the sliding door and puts his hand outside, The cardinal comes to his hand, takes the peanut and flies off.
I have seen countless feeders in countless yards in my lifetime but this is the only that I know of where cardinals (and other birds) take feed from your hand.
How did this happen? I asked my friends Alistair and Debby to give me a step by step description of how it was accomplished. Here is Alistair’s list:
- Start to notice which birds are around
- Put a bird feeder where you and the birds can see it.
- Put out feed regularly
- Stand out near the feeder with a roasted, unshelled peanut (no salt)
- Hand outstretched and not moving
- Chickadees will eventually notice
- Do this for a few minutes at the same time every day
- Chickadees will be the first to land on your hand
- Other species may take months or years to come to you
- With cardinals: at first, we could get them to eat out of our hand if you put your hand on the ground and let them approach you while hopping
P.S. Keep in mind that each bird is an individual and some are friendlier and braver than others. Be patient!
Here is Debby’s description of the process: