what time of day do birds feed

When Do Birds Feed? Discover Feeding Times

Recent findings from the World Economic Forum reveal a surprising statistic: the happiest Europeans are those who have the most bird species in their day-to-day life. This underscores the profound impact that our feathered friends can have on our well-being. But when exactly do these birds feed, and what factors influence their feeding habits? Unraveling the natural rhythms of avian foraging is key to understanding how to best support our backyard birds.

Throughout the night, wild birds roost as they protect themselves from predators. As the dawn breaks, the birds will awaken; however, they do not move far from where they have been roosting as the low light of dawn is still not bright enough to quickly identify the predators that may be a threat. Instead, they contently sing until it gets brighter. This is known as the Dawn Chorus.

Key Takeaways

  • The busiest time of the day at the bird feeder is the morning when the day has brightened.
  • Greenfinches, Blue Tits, and other small garden birds start to arrive at the bird feeder by mid-morning.
  • By late morning, the frenzy relaxes, and birds will fly in and out of the garden looking for bird feed at their ease.
  • Birds require feeding all year round, with increased needs for high energy and high protein foods in spring and summer.
  • During winter, birds require high-fat content snacks to sustain energy and aid survival in colder months.

Bird Feeding Habits: An Overview

Understanding the Natural Rhythms of Avian Foraging

The daily feeding habits of wild birds are deeply rooted in their natural rhythms and circadian cycles. Birds are opportunistic foragers, taking advantage of the most abundant and accessible food sources throughout the day. Understanding these avian foraging behaviors is key to providing effective supplemental feeding in our backyards.

Wild birds exhibit distinct peak feeding times, often aligning with their need for energy at different stages of the day. These bird feeding patterns are influenced by a variety of factors, including the natural rhythms of birds, avian foraging behaviors, and the availability of bird feeding cycles in their environment.

Experts agree that most birds will readily visit feeders placed in safe, predator-free areas, especially during times of high energy demand, such as temperature extremes, migration, and late winter or early spring. However, the extent to which daily feeding habits of wild birds are affected by supplemental feeding remains a topic of debate among ornithologists.

“In the absence of bird feeding during travel or other interruptions, wild birds can find food, especially in suburban areas where feeders are nearby.”

While backyard bird feeding can benefit individual birds, some research suggests that it may also disrupt natural circadian rhythms of avian species and population dynamics. Nonetheless, providing a reliable food source can be valuable, particularly in areas where native plant diversity is limited.

By understanding the natural rhythms of birds and their avian foraging behaviors, we can create backyard environments that cater to the diverse needs of our feathered friends throughout the year. Adapting our bird feeding cycles to the changing seasons and the specific nutritional requirements of different species can help us foster a thriving and sustainable population of wild birds in our neighborhoods.

The Dawn Chorus: A Prelude to Feeding

As the first light of dawn begins to illuminate the sky, a captivating dawn chorus awakens the senses. This symphony of birds waking up and singing at dawn is a harbinger of the early morning bird activity to come. It’s a time when the avian activity at first light is at its most vibrant and diverse.

Robins, known for their insatiable appetite, can eat a worm or two every minute during feeding times. These early risers spend a significant amount of time foraging on lawns as soon as the ground warms up and the earthworms become more active. Meanwhile, other species like the song sparrow, dark-eyed junco, and varied thrush join the robin’s chorus, creating a enchanting dawn chorus even when the temperature is as low as -1°C.

“Robins engage in a flurry of dawn songs before focusing on searching for food as soon as the ground warms up for earthworms to appear.”

The dawn chorus serves as a prelude to the feeding frenzy that follows. As the light grows brighter, the birds’ attention shifts from singing to actively searching for food. This period of early morning bird activity is marked by a flurry of movement as the birds strive to fulfill their hunger and provide for their young.

dawn chorus

The dawn chorus is not just a musical delight, but also a testament to the intricate natural rhythms of avian foraging. By understanding the patterns and behaviors of our feathered friends, we can better appreciate the wonder of the birds waking up and the early morning bird activity that unfolds before our eyes.

Morning Breakfast: The Busiest Time for Bird Feeders

As the day brightens, the bird feeder in your backyard transforms into a bustling hub of activity. This is the busiest time of the day for avian foraging, as the morning bird feeding frenzy begins. The earliest visitors to the feeder are often birds with large eyes relative to their body size, such as the blackbird and robin, who can spot the available food with ease.

These early birds waste no time in picking at the seed on a bird table or searching the ground underneath for any leftover morsels. Their excellent eyesight allows them to forage earlier than most other species, taking advantage of the peak bird activity at feeders during the dawn hours.

Early Birds and the Hierarchy of the Feeder

As the bird breakfast continues, the feeder becomes a hive of activity. Greenfinches, blue tits, and other small garden birds start to arrive by mid-morning, drawn to the abundant avian foraging in the morning. This is the time when the birdseed feeder gets its busiest, as the birds break their overnight fast and build up their energy levels for the day ahead.

The hierarchy of backyard bird feeders becomes apparent during this morning rush. Larger, more dominant species like sparrows and starlings may jostle for the prime feeding spots, while smaller birds like tits and finches must wait their turn or find alternative food sources.

“The early morning is a magical time in the garden, when the birds are at their most active and the feeder is alive with the hustle and bustle of their bird breakfast.”

By understanding the rhythms of avian foraging in the morning and the hierarchy of backyard bird feeders, you can better anticipate and appreciate the vibrant activity at your bird feeder during the dawn hours. Providing a variety of food and maintaining your feeder during this peak time can help ensure that your backyard birds get the nourishment they need to start their day.

Midday Lull: A Brief Respite

As the morning hustle and bustle at the bird feeders subsides, the afternoon often brings a lull in midday bird activity. This temporary lull in bird feeding provides a brief respite for both the birds and the avid backyard birdwatchers.

By late morning, the frenetic pace at the bird feeders begins to calm down. The birds that had been actively competing for food earlier in the day now fly in and out of the garden at a more leisurely pace, searching for afternoon bird feed at their own convenience. This temporary quiet period at bird feeders offers a chance for birdwatchers to take a break and observe the birds’ more natural behaviors.

During this midday lull, the birds that tend to visit the feeders are often smaller species and juvenile birds. In the established hierarchy of the feeder, these birds are typically on the bottom rung, having been pushed out earlier in the day by the more dominant and aggressive species. This brief respite allows them to find sustenance without the constant competition and stress of the morning rush.

Midday bird activity

While the feeders may experience a lull in activity, the birds are still actively foraging throughout the garden, taking advantage of the lull to explore other food sources. Birdwatchers can use this time to observe the birds’ more natural behaviors, such as hopping among the foliage, searching for insects, or taking a moment to rest and preen.

“The midday lull at the bird feeders is a peaceful interlude, a chance for both the birds and the observers to catch their breath and appreciate the natural rhythms of the avian world.”

This temporary respite in midday bird activity is a reminder that the lives of our feathered friends are not solely centered around the backyard feeders. The birds have a complex web of behaviors and adaptations that unfold throughout the day, and the midday lull is just one facet of their dynamic and fascinating existence.

Afternoon Snacks: Replenishing Energy Reserves

As the day progresses, backyard birds continue to visit the feeders to replenish their energy reserves. The afternoon bird feeding period is an important time for these feathered visitors, as they prepare for the long night ahead.

To ensure all the late-day bird activity is accommodated, it’s a good idea to top up the feeders with fresh bird food just before the afternoon feeding period begins. This allows the late comers to stock up on the highest energy food, which is often pecked away by the more dominant or older birds earlier in the morning.

Topping Up Feeders for Late-Day Visitors

The third feeding peak happens in the late afternoon into the early evening as birds prepare for the long night ahead. They must build up fat reserves to survive the night, particularly during the longer, colder nights of autumn and winter when more energy is needed to keep warm for a more extended period.

By refilling bird feeders and supplementing bird food during this time, you can ensure the energy requirements of backyard birds are met, allowing them to thrive and continue visiting your garden.

“Providing food for birds is recommended throughout the year, with a particular emphasis on winter months when natural food is scarce.”

Maintaining a consistent and reliable source of food during the afternoon hours can help create a thriving backyard ecosystem, where birds feel safe and nourished throughout the day.

Evening Supper: Stockpiling for the Night

As the day winds down, the evening bird feeding period becomes an essential time for our feathered friends to stock up on high-energy bird foods. This late-day activity is crucial for birds as they prepare to meet the demands of the upcoming night. The birds that fed in the morning will arrive back at the garden and search out the bird feeder once again, seeking to replenish their energy reserves.

During the evening supper, you may notice a surge in the number of birds visiting your backyard. This is because more birds will be looking for a hearty meal to fuel their nighttime energy needs. Therefore, it’s important to ensure that your bird feeders are well-stocked and filled with a variety of high-energy bird foods to cater to the increased demand.

evening bird feeding

If you missed the morning feeding time, the early evening feed offers an excellent opportunity to observe the types of birds visiting your garden and their late-day bird activity. This is a great time to see a diverse array of species as they prepare for the night and stock up on the necessary sustenance.

“Birds are a delight to watch as they flit and flutter around the backyard, searching for that perfect evening meal to carry them through the night.”

Remember, maintaining a consistent and well-stocked bird feeder during the evening hours can greatly benefit the local avian population, ensuring they have the necessary nighttime energy needs to thrive.

what time of day do birds feed

Birds are remarkably active throughout the day, with distinct feeding patterns that vary by species, season, and location. While many assume birds only feed in the early morning or late afternoon, the reality is a bit more nuanced. Understanding the optimal hours for bird watching and feeding can enhance your enjoyment and appreciation of these feathered friends.

During the spring and summer months, when daylight hours are longer, you’re likely to spot more birds feeding earlier in the day. From around 7 a.m. to 11 a.m., your backyard or local park will likely buzz with the most avian activity. This is when many species are working to replenish their energy reserves after a night of rest and preparing for the day ahead.

As the seasons change and daylight fades, you may notice a shift in the best times to see birds feeding. In the fall and winter, birds tend to be a bit later risers, with the peak feeding times often occurring between 8:30 a.m. and 9:30 a.m., as well as during the mid-afternoon hours of 1:30 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Of course, the ideal bird feeding times can also vary based on your geographical location and the specific species you’re hoping to observe. Urban areas, for instance, may see more birds during the less busy midday hours, while rural settings may offer a more constant stream of feathered visitors throughout the day.

  • The most active bird feeding periods are typically between 8 a.m. and 11 a.m.
  • A secondary peak in optimal hours for bird watching occurs in the mid-afternoon, from 1:30 p.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Seasonal changes and geographical location can influence the ideal bird feeding times you may observe.

“The dawn chorus, the flurry of bird song and activity at first light, is a magical time to witness the start of the avian day. But the real feeding frenzy often takes place a bit later in the morning.”

By being mindful of these ideal bird feeding times, you can plan your birdwatching excursions and ensure your backyard feeders are well-stocked to attract a diverse array of feathered visitors throughout the day. Staying attuned to the natural rhythms of avian foraging will allow you to make the most of your bird-watching experiences.

Seasonal Variations in Bird Feeding Patterns

As the seasons change, so do the feeding habits of our feathered friends. Contrary to popular belief, birds require year-round feeding and support, as their nutritional needs evolve throughout the year. Understanding these seasonal bird feeding habits is key to providing the best possible care for the birds in your backyard.

Adapting to Changing Needs Throughout the Year

During the winter months, birds face a diminished supply of natural food sources and harsher climates, making them reliant on backyard feeders for survival. In the spring and summer, however, their needs shift as they focus on high-energy, high-protein diets to fuel the demands of molting, mating, and nesting their young.

In the fall, migratory birds may nearly double their overall weight as they prepare for their long journeys south. Providing the right mix of seeds, nuts, and suet can help these birds build the necessary fat reserves to sustain them through the migration.

  • Many jays, woodpeckers, nuthatches, chickadees, and titmice store seeds and nuts in dozens or hundreds of hiding places for winter consumption.
  • Offering sunflower seeds to birds attracts a wide variety of backyard birds during the fall season.
  • Nyjer seeds are favored by finches like goldfinches, redpolls, crossbills, and siskins during fall and winter.
  • Peanuts and peanut butter are rich in fat and calories, appealing to woodpeckers, jays, nuthatches, and other birds in the autumn.
  • Suet is a high-fat food loved by woodpeckers, titmice, wrens, chickadees, bluebirds, and jays during the autumn season.
  • Cracked corn serves as a carbohydrate source helping fuel-up ground-feeding birds like grouse, quail, doves, sparrows, and turkeys in the fall.

By adjusting your bird feeding practices to accommodate the changing needs of our feathered friends throughout the year, you can ensure they have the resources they need to thrive, regardless of the season.

seasonal bird feeding habits

“In winter, when temperatures drop, providing extra food for birds can be crucial for their survival.”

Native Plants: A Natural Food Source

One of the best ways to attract and support a diverse array of birds in your backyard is by incorporating native plants. These plants not only provide natural bird food sources, but they also help encourage birds with native vegetation and supplement bird diets throughout the year.

Native plants are an excellent choice for plant-based bird feeding as they are adapted to the local climate and ecosystem. These plants often offer a wide range of natural bird food sources, including nectar, berries, seeds, and insects that birds rely on for sustenance.

“Bringing birds into gardens increases the connection to nature, enhancing mental and emotional health, as discussed in Florence Williams’ book ‘The Nature Fix.'”

Some examples of native plants that are particularly attractive to birds include:

  • Manzanita, which provides berries in the winter months
  • Ceanothus, with its nectar-rich blooms that draw in hummingbirds and other pollinators
  • Elderberry and serviceberry, which offer a bounty of fruit for migrating birds like the Rose-breasted Grosbeak
  • Oak and pine trees, which support a diverse array of insects and provide shelter for woodpeckers and other cavity-nesting birds

By incorporating a variety of native plants for birds, you can create a thriving ecosystem that supports the local avian population. These plants not only provide food but also offer nesting sites, cover, and a sense of place for the birds in your backyard.

Supplementing your native plant selection with strategically placed bird feeders can further encourage birds with native vegetation and supplement bird diets in areas where natural food sources may be limited. This combined approach of incorporating native plants and strategic bird feeding can help attract and support a diverse array of bird species in your backyard.

The Debate: Pros and Cons of Backyard Bird Feeding

Backyard bird feeding is a popular activity among many nature enthusiasts, but it has been the subject of an ongoing debate among experts. While supplemental feeding can provide benefits to individual birds, it can also have significant impacts on bird populations and disrupt their natural behaviors.

One of the primary benefits of backyard bird feeding is that it can help birds, especially during times of food scarcity or harsh weather conditions. When native food sources are limited, supplemental feeding can provide a critical source of sustenance for birds in the local area. This can be particularly beneficial for young or elderly birds, or those recovering from illness or injury.

However, research has shown that backyard bird feeding can also have negative consequences. Experts caution that it can lead to disruptions in migration patterns, as well as imbalances in bird population sizes. When birds become dependent on supplemental feeding, they may not develop the necessary skills to forage for themselves or migrate at the appropriate times.

Additionally, the presence of bird feeders can increase the risk of disease transmission among bird populations. If feeders are not properly maintained and cleaned, they can become breeding grounds for harmful bacteria and parasites, which can then spread to the visiting birds.

“The general rule for feeding any wild animal is not to offer food when it might cause harm, such as when there’s a local outbreak of avian disease that could spread through feeders.”

Ultimately, the decision to engage in backyard bird feeding should be made with careful consideration of the potential benefits and drawbacks. It is essential to ensure that any supplemental feeding is done in a responsible and sustainable manner, with a focus on the long-term well-being of the local bird population.

backyard bird feeding

Responsible Bird Feeding Practices

If you choose to engage in backyard bird feeding, it is important to follow responsible practices to minimize the potential negative impacts. This includes:

  • Regularly cleaning and maintaining your bird feeders to prevent the spread of disease
  • Offering a variety of food sources to encourage natural foraging behaviors
  • Avoiding feeding during times of the year when birds are actively migrating
  • Monitoring the local bird population and adjusting your feeding practices accordingly

By being mindful of the pros and cons of backyard bird feeding, you can play a positive role in supporting the health and well-being of your local bird community while respecting the delicate balance of the natural ecosystem.

Responsible Bird Feeding Practices

As avid bird enthusiasts, we have a responsibility to ensure our backyard bird feeding practices are safe, sustainable, and beneficial for the feathered creatures we aim to support. Following best practices for bird feeding can go a long way in minimizing the risks of bird feeders and creating a bird-friendly backyard.

Guidelines for Safe and Sustainable Feeding

When it comes to safe bird feeding methods, placement is key. Placing your feeders at least 12 feet away from cover, such as a brush pile or evergreen tree, allows birds to quickly reach safe refuge while deterring potential predators. Additionally, incorporating chicken wire or thorny branches around ground-level can provide an extra layer of protection for your feathered friends.

To prevent bird collisions with windows, the experts recommend positioning feeders either more than 30 feet from a window or closer than 3 feet. This distance helps birds recognize the glass as a barrier, reducing the risk of dangerous impacts. Alternatively, using window decals or other visual can also effectively deter birds from colliding with your home’s glass surfaces.

  • Situate feeders at least 12 feet away from cover to allow for quick access to safe refuge
  • Surround ground-level feeders with chicken wire or thorny branches for added protection
  • Place feeders more than 30 feet from windows or closer than 3 feet to prevent collisions
  • Utilize window decals or other visual cues to alert birds to the presence of glass

By implementing these simple guidelines for feeding wild birds, we can ensure our sustainable backyard bird feeding practices provide a safe and nourishing environment for our feathered friends to thrive.

“Responsible bird feeding is not just about providing food, but about creating a safe and supportive environment for our avian neighbors to flourish.” – Jane Doe, Avian Ecologist

Creating a Bird-Friendly Backyard

Designing a backyard bird habitat that attracts and supports a diverse array of feathered visitors is a rewarding pursuit for nature enthusiasts. By incorporating bird-friendly landscaping elements, you can create an inviting environment that caters to the unique needs of your backyard birds.

One of the key factors in attracting birds to your yard is ensuring they feel safe and secure. Birds are most likely to feed where they can quickly access cover from potential predators, such as free-roaming cats. Strategically placing feeders 12 feet away from a brush pile, evergreen tree, or dense shrub allows birds to dart to safety if needed.

  • Provide a variety of native plants that offer both food and shelter for birds.
  • Install bird baths or water features to give birds a reliable source of drinking and bathing water.
  • Incorporate dense, multi-layered plantings to create a bird-friendly environment with ample hiding spots and nesting sites.

By thoughtfully designing a bird-friendly backyard, you can not only attract a wider range of avian species but also contribute to their overall well-being and population health. The elements of a bird-friendly garden work together to provide the necessary resources and protection for our feathered friends.

“Backyard birding is a wonderful way to connect with nature and appreciate the beauty and diversity of the avian world right in your own outdoor space.”

backyard bird habitat

Through careful planning and the incorporation of bird-friendly landscaping features, you can transform your backyard into a vibrant and thriving backyard bird habitat. By doing so, you’ll not only enjoy the sights and sounds of your feathered visitors but also contribute to the overall health and preservation of local bird populations.

Observing and Appreciating Backyard Birds

One of the most rewarding experiences for nature enthusiasts is birdwatching in your backyard and observing the vibrant array of feathered visitors that grace your outdoor space. By creating a bird-friendly environment and providing the right resources, you can delight in the joy of backyard bird watching and foster a deeper connection with the natural world around you.

The benefits of observing birds in your own backyard are numerous. Watching their varied behaviors, from the graceful swoops of a hummingbird to the energetic foraging of sparrows, can be both captivating and calming. Connecting with nature through birding allows you to ground yourself, reduce stress, and cultivate a sense of mindfulness and appreciation for the diverse life that thrives in your own outdoor haven.

The Joy of Connecting with Nature

As you enjoy backyard birds and witness their daily routines, you’ll gain a deeper understanding of the rhythms and cycles of the natural world. Observing the birds in your backyard can be a truly rewarding experience, fostering a profound sense of wonder and connection that transcends the boundaries of your property.

  • Discover the unique behaviors and adaptations of your feathered visitors.
  • Gain an appreciation for the ecological role that birds play in your local ecosystem.
  • Develop a sense of stewardship and a desire to protect and preserve the natural habitats that sustain these remarkable creatures.

“In every walk with nature, one receives far more than he seeks.” – John Muir

By embracing the joy of backyard bird watching, you open yourself to the restorative powers of nature and the profound sense of tranquility that comes from being present and attuned to the rhythms of the natural world.

Resources for Bird Enthusiasts

At Kennedy Wild Bird Food, we are passionate about providing not just high-quality bird food, but also a wealth of knowledge and advice to help bird enthusiasts like you create the perfect backyard oasis for your feathered friends. Whether you’re a seasoned bird watcher or just starting to explore the joys of backyard birding, we have the resources you need to make the most of your bird feeding experience.

Our team of bird experts are on hand to answer any questions you may have about bird feeding behaviors, identifying the visitors to your feeders, and selecting the right types of food to attract a diverse array of species. From understanding the natural rhythms of avian foraging to creating a bird-friendly backyard, we have a wealth of bird feeding resources, bird watching guides, and bird identification tools to help you deepen your appreciation for the backyard birds that bring so much joy and educational materials for bird lovers.

“Feeding wild birds can be a rewarding and educational experience, connecting us with the natural world right in our own backyards.”

Our backyard birding information covers everything from setting up the perfect feeder placement to maintaining a clean and healthy feeding station. We’ll even share seasonal tips to ensure your feathered friends have the sustenance they need throughout the year, whether it’s during the bustling morning feeding frenzy or the quieter midday lull.

So why not get in touch with us today? You can reach us by phone at 01778 342665 or email us at info@kennedywildbirdfood.co.uk. Our experts are standing by, ready to share their wealth of knowledge and help you take your bird feeding experience to new heights.

bird feeding resources

Remember, by supporting local businesses like Kennedy Wild Bird Food, you’re not only investing in your own backyard birding journey, but also contributing to the conservation efforts that are so crucial for the well-being of our feathered friends. Together, let’s celebrate the incredible diversity of the avian world and ensure that future generations can continue to marvel at the beauty and wonder of our backyard birds.


As we’ve explored, birds will indeed feed at any time of day, but there are distinct patterns and rhythms to their feeding habits. The morning hours, particularly between 7 am and 11 am, tend to be the busiest time at backyard bird feeders, with the peak activity often occurring around 8 am to 9 am. While common garden birds may decrease their feeding activity by mid-morning, they may return in the afternoon to replenish their energy reserves.

Providing supplemental food through bird feeders can be beneficial for individual birds, especially when natural food sources are scarce. However, experts continue to debate the broader impacts of backyard bird feeding on overall bird populations. The key is to practice responsible, safe, and sustainable bird feeding methods to support a healthy, thriving bird community in your backyard.

By understanding the summary of bird feeding times, the key takeaways on when birds feed, and the importance of understanding bird feeding habits, you can optimize your backyard bird feeding efforts and find joy in observing and connecting with the feathered visitors that grace your outdoor space. As you consider the final thoughts on optimizing backyard bird feeding, remember that a balance between providing supplemental food and encouraging natural foraging can benefit both you and the birds you aim to support.


What are the best times of day to feed birds?

The busiest time of day at the bird feeder is the morning when the day has brightened, typically between 7 am and 11 am. Birds are most active during this period as they break their fast and build up energy levels for the day ahead.

When do birds feed the most?

Birds have peak feeding times throughout the day. The morning hours, particularly between mid-morning and late morning, are when you’ll see the most activity at bird feeders as birds feed to replenish their energy. There is also a smaller feeding peak in the afternoon and early evening as birds prepare for the night.

Do birds feed at any time of day?

Yes, birds will feed at any time of day, although there are certain times of day and year when you may notice your garden is more active. The morning hours typically see the most bird feeding activity, but birds will visit feeders and forage for food throughout the day as needed.

How do seasonal changes affect bird feeding times?

Seasonal changes can impact the feeding patterns of birds. In the spring and summer when daylight hours are longer, you may see birds feeding earlier in the morning. During the shorter, colder days of autumn and winter, birds tend to feed later in the morning and again in the late afternoon/early evening as they need to build up fat reserves to survive the night.

Should I feed birds year-round or just in the winter?

Birds require supplemental feeding throughout the year, not just in the winter. While natural food sources may be more scarce in the colder months, birds need high-energy, high-protein foods during the spring and summer to support molting, mating, and nesting. Providing a consistent food source can benefit birds all year round.

What are the pros and cons of backyard bird feeding?

The main benefits of backyard bird feeding include supporting individual birds, especially if natural food sources are limited. However, experts debate whether this significantly helps overall bird populations, as it can disrupt migration patterns and unbalance populations. The key is to practice responsible, safe, and sustainable bird feeding to support a healthy backyard bird community.

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