How To Keep Doves Off Of Bird Feeders

Last Updated on September 11, 2023 by Susan Levitt

Bird feeders are a great way to attract beautiful birds into your yard, but they can also become a source of frustration when doves constantly take over and leave little room for other species. As an avian biologist, I have studied the behavior of doves and ways to keep them off bird feeders.

Doves are ground-feeding birds that prefer seeds such as corn, wheat, and millet. They typically visit bird feeders in flocks, which can scare away smaller birds or monopolize food sources. However, there are several strategies that you can use to deter doves from taking over your bird feeder and create a more diverse ecosystem of feathered friends in your backyard.

Understanding Dove Behavior

Dove feeding habits are unique compared to other bird species. They prefer ground feeding, which means they will not often visit a standard bird feeder. However, if your yard provides both food and water sources for doves, they may begin to frequent the area more frequently.

Attracting doves to your yard can be accomplished by offering them their preferred foods such as cracked corn or millet seeds scattered on the ground. Additionally, providing a source of fresh water is also important in attracting doves. Often times, these birds will bathe in shallow puddles or fountains rather than traditional bird baths.

It’s important to note that once doves find a reliable food source, they may become territorial over it and chase away smaller songbirds from the area. To avoid this issue, consider placing separate feeders at different heights so that all birds can access their own food without conflict.

Understanding dove behavior is key when attempting to keep them off of your traditional bird feeders. In the following section we will discuss choosing the right bird feeder design to deter doves while still allowing other species access to the food provided.

Choosing The Right Bird Feeder Design

As an avian biologist, I have observed that doves are some of the most common birds found at bird feeders. Attracting these beautiful creatures to your backyard can be a joy, but it’s important to ensure they don’t take over and monopolize the feeder. Here are some tips on choosing the right bird feeder design to avoid doves’ feeding habits.

Firstly, consider purchasing a tube feeder with small openings for seed dispensing. This style of feeder is perfect for attracting smaller songbirds like finches or chickadees, who enjoy perching on the sides while accessing their food source. Doves typically struggle with this type of feeder as they prefer larger grained seeds which cannot fit in the small openings.

Another option is a caged feeder, which has wire mesh surrounding it to prevent larger birds from entering and stealing all the seed. This type of feeder also works well if you want to keep squirrels away from your feeders. A downside to caged feeders is that they may not accommodate larger bird species such as blue jays.

Lastly, platform feeders provide ample room for multiple types of birds to perch and eat together. These feeders work best when filled with mixed seed containing less millet and corn since doves tend to favor those grains more than others.

In summary, selecting the right bird feeder design can help deter doves from taking over your bird feeding station while still providing enjoyment for other feathered friends. However, there are additional steps you can take to further discourage doves from taking over completely—such as placing protective barriers around your feeders or positioning them in areas where dove traffic is minimal. The next section will delve into how selecting appropriate birdseed can also help attract certain species while deterring others without compromising nutritional value.

Selecting The Right Bird Seed

When it comes to selecting the right bird seed for your feeders, there are several factors you should consider. First and foremost, think about the types of birds you want to attract. If you’re looking to attract doves specifically, opt for larger seeds like sunflower kernels or cracked corn.

However, keep in mind that attracting doves can also lead to some waste around your feeder. Doves tend to be messy eaters and may leave behind a lot of discarded shells and seed debris. To avoid this, try mixing in smaller seeds like millet or safflower with the larger ones. This will provide variety while also minimizing waste.

Another important factor is the quality of the seed itself. Cheap birdseed blends often contain fillers like wheat or oats that many birds won’t even eat. Look for high-quality mixes that are made primarily from nutritious seeds without any added filler ingredients.

Finally, consider offering different types of food at separate feeders to reduce competition among birds. In addition to seed mixtures, you could also offer suet cakes or nectar for hummingbirds at other stations around your yard.

By carefully selecting the right bird seed for your needs and taking steps to minimize waste, you can create a welcoming environment for all kinds of feathered friends – including those pesky doves! Next up: adding a squirrel baffle to prevent unwanted visitors from stealing your precious birdseed supply.

Adding A Squirrel Baffle

Baffle installation is an effective way to keep doves off of bird feeders. A squirrel baffle is a device that can be installed on the pole supporting your feeder. It blocks squirrels, raccoons and other critters from climbing up the pole. Baffles come in different sizes and shapes but typically are cone-shaped or cylindrical.

When installing a baffle, it’s important to consider its effective spacing. The space between the ground or any nearby tree branches should be at least 4 feet away. This will prevent squirrels from jumping onto the top of the baffle and using it as a launching pad for leaping onto your feeder.

To install a squirrel baffle, simply slide it over the support pole below your feeder. Make sure that there are no gaps between the pole and the baffle so that creatures cannot climb through them. Some baffles may require additional hardware such as clamps or screws to secure them into place.

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By adding a squirrel baffle you can effectively deter doves and other larger birds from accessing your bird feeders. With proper installation and spacing, this method is safe for both birds and wildlife alike while also providing ample protection for your bird food supply.

As you continue to protect your feathered friends from unwanted guests, placing your bird feeder in the right location is another key factor in deterring doves from feeding on your supplies.

Placing Your Bird Feeder In The Right Location

As an avian biologist, I have observed that one of the most effective ways to keep doves off bird feeders is by placing them at an elevated location. This will not only prevent doves from accessing the feeder but also provide other benefits for your feathered friends. Placing a bird feeder on a high pole or hanging it from a tree branch can make it difficult for larger birds like doves to reach.

Another important aspect to consider when choosing the right location for your bird feeder is protection from predators. Predators such as squirrels and cats are known to prey on birds and their eggs. Therefore, it is essential to place your bird feeder away from areas where these animals can easily access them. For example, avoid placing feeders near bushes or shrubs where predators may hide.

The benefits of elevation go beyond keeping doves off your bird feeders; this strategy also provides safety for smaller birds who might be vulnerable to ground-dwelling predators. Elevated feeders offer better visibility and allow small birds to spot any potential danger early enough to fly away before becoming prey.

In summary, elevating your bird feeder creates a safe feeding environment while deterring doves and providing easy access for smaller birds. The next section will explore how using visual deterrents can further protect your feathered friends from unwanted visitors without harming any wildlife.

Using Visual Deterrents

Visual deterrents can be an effective way of keeping doves off bird feeders. The key is to use decorations that are colorful and reflective, as these will catch the attention of flying birds. One option is to hang wind chimes near the feeder. As they move in the breeze, they make noise and reflect light, which makes them less appealing for doves.

Another visual deterrent that can work well is a fake owl or hawk perched on a nearby tree branch or fence post. This gives the impression that there is a predator in the area, which can scare doves away from your bird feeder. It’s important to remember to move it around every few days so that the doves don’t get used to seeing it in one spot.

Adding reflective surfaces such as CDs or mirrors around the feeding area can also be helpful. These items create flashes of light that may startle doves and cause them to fly away. Consider hanging these objects at different heights and angles so that they reflect light in multiple directions.

In addition to using visual deterrents, consider creating a separate feeding station for doves. Fill this station with food that appeals specifically to them, like cracked corn or millet. This will divert their attention away from your other bird feeders and encourage them to eat elsewhere instead of crowding out smaller birds who need access to those feeders.

By incorporating colorful decorations and reflective surfaces into your backyard setup along with creating a dedicated dove feeding area, you can effectively keep doves off of your main bird feeders without harming any wildlife.

Creating A Separate Feeding Station For Doves

Despite our best efforts, visual deterrents may not always be effective in keeping doves off of bird feeders. In such cases, creating a separate feeding station for doves can prove to be an effective solution. This DIY feeding station will provide doves with their own source of food and reduce competition at the main bird feeder.

To create a separate feeding station for doves, choose a location that is away from your main bird feeder but still easily accessible to the birds. You can use any sturdy platform or tray as the base for the feeding station and add some perches around it to make it more inviting for the doves. Fill this station with grains and seeds that are preferred by doves, such as millet, cracked corn, and sunflower seeds.

In addition to setting up a separate feeding station for doves, you can also use effective decoys to deter them from visiting your main bird feeder. These decoys could be anything from plastic owls or snakes to shiny objects like CDs or aluminum foil strips. Place these decoys strategically around your main bird feeder so that they catch the attention of approaching doves and scare them away.

By implementing these solutions, you will have successfully reduced competition at your main bird feeder while providing a designated space for the doves to enjoy their meals. Remember to monitor both the separate feeding station and main bird feeder regularly to ensure that they remain clean and well-stocked for all types of birds visiting your backyard habitat.

Monitoring Your Bird Feeder Regularly

To effectively keep doves off of bird feeders, monitoring your feeder regularly is crucial. This involves checking the feeder at least once a day to ensure that only desired birds are accessing it and that there are no signs of damage or wear and tear.

Frequency of inspection is key in preventing doves from taking over the bird feeder. Doves tend to be persistent and will continue attempting to access the feeder until they succeed. By inspecting the feeder frequently, you can quickly address any issues such as holes or cracks that could allow doves to gain access.

Preventative maintenance is also important when trying to keep doves away. Simple measures like keeping the area around the feeder clean and free from debris can discourage doves from congregating near it. Additionally, using baffles or other deterrents on the feeder itself can make it more difficult for larger birds like doves to perch on it.

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Regularly monitoring your bird feeder not only helps deter unwanted guests but can also provide valuable information about local bird populations and behavior patterns. Taking note of which birds visit the most frequently, what time of day they come, and how much food they consume can help inform future feeding strategies.

  • Inspect your bird feeder daily
  • Address any damage promptly
  • Keep surrounding areas clean
  • Use deterrents if necessary

Overall, by consistently monitoring your bird feeder and implementing preventative maintenance measures, you can successfully keep doves off while still attracting a diverse array of desirable avian visitors.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are There Any Natural Deterrents That Can Keep Doves Away From Bird Feeders?

As the famous saying goes, prevention is better than cure. This rings true for bird enthusiasts who want to keep doves off their feeders. While it may seem like a daunting task, there are natural repellents and dove proof feeders available in the market that can help achieve this goal. Natural repellents such as cayenne pepper or garlic can be sprinkled around the feeder to deter doves from approaching. Alternatively, investing in a dove-proof feeder with smaller openings or a weight-activated mechanism will prevent larger birds such as doves from accessing the food inside. As an avian biologist, I recommend trying out these natural methods before resorting to harmful chemicals or physical barriers that could potentially harm other birds.

Can I Use A Bird Feeder That Is Specifically Designed To Attract Certain Types Of Birds To Keep Doves Away?

As an avian biologist, I can say that using a bird feeder designed to attract specific types of birds may not necessarily keep doves away. However, there are other measures you could take such as using squirrel-proof feeders or incorporating visual deterrents like reflective surfaces around the feeding area. These methods can help minimize dove presence and allow for other species to enjoy the feeding station without competition. It’s important to remember that each species has unique behaviors and preferences when it comes to food sources, so experimentation with different approaches may be necessary to find what works best for your particular situation.

Will Using A Bird Feeder With A Smaller Opening Help Keep Doves From Accessing The Food?

As an avian biologist, I have observed that doves are persistent and resourceful birds when it comes to accessing bird feeders. While using a feeder with a smaller opening may deter some larger species of birds from accessing the food, doves can still find ways to reach inside or maneuver their way onto the feeding platform. Instead, consider utilizing physical barriers such as wire mesh cages or baffles on poles to prevent doves from landing on or near the feeder. Additionally, choosing different types of bird feeders that require specific feeding behaviors (such as clinging or perching) can also help deter doves while attracting other desired species.

Should I Put Out Less Bird Seed To Deter Doves From Coming To My Feeder?

Adjusting the types of seed you offer at your bird feeder can certainly have an impact on which birds visit. However, it’s important to note that simply putting out less seed may not be the most effective method for deterring doves from accessing your feeder. Elevated feeders can also help keep these larger birds at bay by making it more difficult for them to reach the food source. Think of it like a game of musical chairs: if there are fewer seats available (i.e. less seed), then some birds will naturally get left out. But if those remaining seats are higher up (elevated feeders), certain species may struggle to compete with more agile and nimble avian counterparts. As always, observing the behavior and interactions of different bird species can provide valuable insights into how best to manage your backyard feeding station.

Are There Any Bird Seed Blends That Doves Are Less Likely To Eat?

When it comes to attracting birds to your feeder, choosing the right birdseed blend is key. Alternative birdseed options that do not contain millet or sunflower seeds may be less attractive to doves. However, keep in mind that this could also deter other desirable species from visiting your feeder. Another option is investing in dove-proof feeders with smaller feeding ports and perches designed for smaller birds like finches and chickadees. By limiting access to larger birds like doves, you can increase the likelihood of attracting a diverse range of avian visitors to your backyard. As an avian biologist, I highly recommend experimenting with different seed blends and feeder designs until you find a combination that works best for both you and the feathered inhabitants of your garden.


In conclusion, as an avian biologist I have seen many solutions to the issue of doves taking over bird feeders. One natural deterrent is placing a fake owl near the feeder as doves are known to be afraid of owls. Additionally, using a bird feeder with smaller openings can limit access for larger birds like doves and attract smaller species such as finches and chickadees.

However, if you really want to keep those pesky doves away from your bird seed, consider using blends that contain safflower seeds or Nyjer thistle seeds which are less appealing to them. And while it may seem counterintuitive, putting out less bird seed can actually help deter doves as they prefer feeding on large quantities of food rather than small portions.

Overall, finding the right solution for keeping doves off bird feeders requires some trial and error but by following these tips you’ll be able to create a peaceful feeding environment for all types of birds – except maybe those stubborn doves who just won’t give up!

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