Before placing a bird feeder, one of the things you will need to do is decide on which types of birds you want to attract to your garden. This will influence what type of bird feeder you want to install. After all, different bird feeders suit different types of birds.
To attract a variety of wild birds to your garden you will want to offer a variety of seeds in different feeders. Birds, like humans, like variety and have different preferences in what they like to eat.
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What are some of the bird feeder types available?
Firstly I am just going to list the types of bird feeders available and then I will go into more detail on each bird feeder, such as what it is, where it should be placed and what type of birds will be attracted to a particular type of bird feeder. So let’s get started shall we?
Here is a list of the different types of bird feeders:
- Tray or Platform bird feeders – either hanging or on the ground
- Tube bird feeders
- Window feeders
- Hopper or House feeders
- Nyjer or Thistle feeders
- Fresh fruit feeders.
- Suet feeders
- Soda Bottle feeders
- Caged bird feeders
- Freestanding bird feeders
- Hanging bird feeders
- Bird feeders with protective coverings
- Fly Through bird feeders
Tray or Platform Bird Feeders
Although tray or platform feeders will attract the widest range of birds, it needs to be noted that these type of feeders are open to the elements and offer no protection from rain.
Also, they can get messy as depending on the bird, they will flick the seed around and you will find a lot of seed on the ground around the feeder.
Having said that I have a number of tray feeders in my garden that I refill on a daily basis. Before adding new feed I empty out the husks from the previous days feed and wash and dry the feeder before refilling it.
The beauty of tray feeders is that you can have them at different levels throughout the garden. They can be on the ground, on a pole or hung from a tree branch.
Keep in mind this type of feeder will also attract unwanted guests such as squirrels, mice, raccoons etc. But as I say, they can also be mounted on posts or tree stumps to keep the vermin at bay.
Even so, as a starting option for your bird watching, a tray feeder is a good way to go.
Some of the types of birds that will be attracted to tray or platform bird feeders are:
- house finches
- Northern Cardinals
Here in Australia I have galah’s, king parrots, crested pigeons, rosella’s along with magpies, finches and sparrows, visiting my tray and platform feeders.
Apart from the magpies, which I hand feed, most of the other birds generally go for the feeders that are up high and head down to the ground after they toss the seed out of the feeder as they eat. Birds can be really messy eaters.
Ground Platform Bird Feeder
This mesh platform bird feeder is ideal for birds that feed off the ground.
This particular bird feeder is readily available from Amazon. There are two in the set and it’s crafted from heavy duty steel mesh that has been powder coated with a rust-resistant black powder. So it’s going to last a long time.
It’s also easy to clean, just give it a good blast with the hose, and if bird droppings stick to the feeder, you can hand wash it with a solution of 1 part vinegar or bleach to 9 parts water. Dry it off and you’re good to go.
It only measures 7″x 7″ with 2″ sides that help to stop the feed from spilling, so it’s not going to take up a lot of space. I really like these ground feeders even though they are small.
Hanging Bird Feeders
The best thing about hanging bird feeders is that they are readily available and you can even make your own. You can have a number of different types and sizes throughout your back yard all hanging at different heights. This will encourage different types of birds as well.
Some of the important things to consider when hanging your bird feeders are:
- make sure the feeder is hung in a position that is safe from predators
- ensure that it is sturdy, you don’t want it falling down and scaring the birds. They need to feel safe.
- make sure it is made from safe materials.
This is just one of the many hanging tray feeders available from Amazon.
If you are looking for an eco-friendly bird feeder, this one may appeal to you. It is made from up to 90% recycled plastic. The base is a powder coated metal screen which means the tray will easily drain in wet weather, so your seed isn’t going to go moldy and smelly. Here is a photo and comment from one happy purchaser, and I found that the majority of people who purchased this bird feeder absolutely love it.
So if you decide to go with a hanging bird feeder this one just might be the one for you. It’s large enough to accommodate birds in a variety of sizes.
The hanging cable is included so you will be all set to hang the feeder from a tree or a hanging station.
Another very popular hanging bird feeder is the DutchCrafters, large bird feeder.
- This bird feeder is customizable in 20 different colors, so you can choose a color that suits your backyard.
- It’s made from poly – which is a recycled plastic – so it’s eco friendly.
- There is a flip-open roof making it easy to refill and to clean.
- The floor is aluminum mesh for drainage.
- It’s American made in Northern Indiana by Amish Woodworkers.
It also has a 5 star rating. You can view it on Amazon.
Hopper or ‘House’ Bird Feeder
You may be looking for a bird feeder that is enclosed, rather than the Tray or Platform type of feeder. That’s where a Hopper or ‘House’ bird feeder comes into its own.
As these bird feeders will be subjected to the elements make sure to look for one made from sturdy materials that will stand up to all weather conditions.
This hopper bird feeder is just one design available from Amazon here. It’s made from plastic, it’s waterproof and designed to to keep your seed from getting dry. There is space for 6 birds to feed from the base.
A hopper bird feeder will generally hold enough seed for a few days so you won’t have to refill it as often as a tray feeder.
These bird feeders have an enclosed container for the seed which provides some protection from the rain. Although the seed in the container will be protected, the seed in the tray may get wet. If this happens, the seed could sprout, or it may become moldy if you don’t clean out the wet seed. So do make it a priority to clean out the tray so that mold and bacteria, that is harmful to the birds, doesn’t form.
A hopper bird feeder is also a squirrel magnet so you may want to look at placing this type of feeder on a pole with a squirrel baffle attached, or hang it on a bird feeding station away from trees or fences that are within a squirrel’s jumping distance.
You will often find that larger birds will be encouraged to eat from a hopper bird feeder.
Some of the types of birds that will be attracted to hopper bird feeders are:
- sparrows – they will eat from just about any bird feeder
Tube Feeders are hollow tubes so you can see how much food is in the feeder at all times and judge when it needs to be refilled. A tube feeder will keep the seed dry, although you may find with some brands of feeder that the seed tube extends an inch or so below the lowest feeding port. If this is the case then any seed that collects in this area may go moldy, so it will help if you block the tube just below the bottom-most feeding port.
There is generally a post ledge by each feeding port for the birds to sit on while they pick out their favorite seeds.
Tube feeders are generally made for smaller birds.
In the picture below you see a typical style tube feeder. This one is made from hard plastic and a steel hanger is provided with the feeder. It’s weatherproof and water-resistant. These are available from Amazon here at a very reasonable price.
Try to have a variety of tube feeders on hand so that you can swap them out depending on the number of birds that are visiting your garden. Large tube feeders are ideal if you have a lot of birds coming to feed, but if the number of birds drops off, then you will only need a small tube feeder. This is to make sure that the seed is eaten quickly and doesn’t get to sit too long in the feeder.
Remember to always empty out stale seed before refilling it with fresh seed. it’s also a good idea to rinse it out with a hose and dry it off before refilling it. If the tube is grubby, it would be a good idea to wash the feeder with a solution of 1 part water to 9 parts vinegar or bleach, dry it thoroughly and then refill it.
Tube feeders that deter squirrels
Depending on where you live, squirrels can be a pain in the proverbial you know what when it comes to stealing your bird seed. They are cute and funny to watch but if you are more interested in feeding the wild birds in your area then you might need to consider a squirrel proof bird feeder.
So let’s take a look at a tube bird feeder that has been found to deter squirrels. The one in the images below gets great reviews on Amazon. All of the feeder parts that can be accessed by squirrels are made from a RoxResin which is a chew-proof material.
The weight of an adult squirrel automatically closes the shroud covering the seed ports, so the squirrel goes away unfulfilled and disappointed. Although I’m sure they will be back to try again for a free, nutritious feed.
Some of the types of bird that will be attracted to your tube bird feeders are:
- sparrows – (naturally, these little guys will eat from just about anything)
Nyjer or Thistle Feeders
There are many birds that like to eat Nyjer (or as they are commonly called thistle) seeds, and because the seed is so small you need a special type of feeder to hold it. Although it is often called thistle it isn’t in any way related to the thistle plant, flowers or seeds.
What is Nyjer?
Nyjer is a small, black seed from the African yellow daisy which is a plant native to Ethiopia. The seed is imported from places like India, Ethiopia and Kenya where it is used in cooking such as curries and chutneys. It also has medicinal uses. But it’s most popular use is in birdseed.
You won’t have to be concerned about seed that falls to the ground, sprouting and becoming a pest as it is sterilized with very high heat which prevents it from germinating.
This is a requirement from most countries that import the seed as a preventative measure to ensure that the seed doesn’t germinate and spread.
Even if your treated Nyjer seeds do germinate they won’t reach widespread weed stage and you will be able to quickly pull the plants and dispose of them.
The reason birds like Nyjer seeds so much is because they are high in oil and fat. This makes these seeds an ideal winter food.
Nyjer seed is a highly nutritious source of energy for wild birds however it can be expensive, so many bird feeders’ will purchase a wild bird seed mix that contains smaller amounts of nyjer seed.
Which Birds Eat Nyjer Seeds
There are some birds, such as goldfinches, siskins and redpolls that will eat Nyjer seeds exclusively if you feed it to them, but many enjoy it mixed in with other types of seeds.
Birds That Enjoy Nyjer Seeds are:
- purple and house finches
There are two types of Nyjer feeders
- A fine mesh feed sock
- A Nyjer seed tube feeder
1. Sock Feeder
Finches and other small birds enjoy feeding from these mesh socks that are readily available from Amazon.
The sock can be filled with nyjer seed that is also available through Amazon. Nyjer seed is a highly nutritious source of energy for wild birds however it can be expensive so many bird feeders’ will purchase a wild bird seed mix that contains smaller amounts of nyjer seed.
The seed will get wet if not protected from the rain but it does dry out quickly and the birds still eat it.
After time, the birds will make tears in the mesh, but replacements are inexpensive and readily available. And if you are crafty you can darn the holes, or close them with a plastic tie.
Don’t be concerned if you see what appears to be wasted seed beneath the feeder. The black part of the seed is the outer casing. The crafty finches will have slit this shell to get at the tasty tiny seed encased inside.
2. Nyjer Seed Tube Feeder
This Nyjer tube feeder which is available from Amazon here is only meant for Nyjer seed so it’s ideal for feeding the beautiful finches in your garden.
It’s also pretty much squirrel proof, as it has a shroud that closes when it detects the weight of an adult squirrel, and feeder parts are made from chew proof materials. So take that pesky squirrels!
This feeder has so many positive features and the majority of people who have bought it, love it, and you can check out their reviews here.
So if you want to attract these beautiful birds to your garden, you might give this one some thought.
Fresh fruit bird feeders
There are a number of birds that love eating fresh fruit. So if you are looking to attract birds like orioles, grosbeak, robins and many others the you will probably want to look at getting a fresh fruit feeder.
A feeder with spikes will hold oranges in place and some, such as the one in the photo below, have a jelly cup that you can use for jelly or other treats that you think your birds may like.
When I first looked at this feeder my immediate thought was ‘How will the birds manage to eat the oranges. There’s nowhere for them to stand.” But, you know what, birds are pretty darn resourceful and they manage just fine. The majority of people that purchase this fruit feeder just love it. You can read the reviews here.
One thing I would recommend adding are ant motes which are guards for keeping ants away.
You can also attract fruit feeding birds by planting fruit trees in the backyard. This will give you a natural and renewable source of fruit. It’s a nice idea but not everyone has room for fruit trees and that’s when a substitute feeder, as mentioned above, comes in handy.
Although you can offer suet (beef fat) to birds all year round, it is particularly good to feed it to them during the cooler weather. During the hot months, the suet can melt and become messy. It may also become moldy and rancid. None of these things is particularly nice to deal with.
You can make your own suet cakes or you can buy them. Either way, we need to look at a feeder to serve it up to our feathered friends.
The suet feeder featured below holds 2 suet cakes and is available on Amazon for a very reasonable price. There are also models available to hold just one single suet cake or you can get one that holds 4 suet cakes.
The cage has been designed to accommodate clinging birds such as the woodpecker, titmouse, nuthatche, chickadees and other birds that have those strong feet that enables them to grasp onto a surface to feed.
This feeder is made from stainless steel with a powder-coated finish and it has a weather guard roof which makes it weather resistant. Plus you don’t only have to use it for suet cakes. Seed cakes and even fruit can be placed in it.
If you are looking for a suet feeder for your backyard, then I urge you to read the comments on this one. Apart from the mainly positive comments there are some quite entertaining ones. Bird watchers appear to be an entertaining and humorous bunch of people.
Peanut Bird Feeders
So now we come to feeders for wild birds who like peanuts. Adding a peanut feeder to your backyard will encourage even more species of bird to come and feed. (Please consult your veterinarian before feeding peanuts to pet birds. Peanuts may not be considered safe for your pet bird.)
A peanut bird feeder is designed specifically to hold whole peanuts.
This is a wreath style whole peanut wild bird feeder from Songbird Essentials. It gets great reviews on amazon. People just love it and so do the birds (oh and also the squirrels). There is also a pink version of this whole bird feeder.
It’s designed to be squirrel proof so that when a squirrel jumps onto the top of the feeder, the weight of the squirrel will cause the shroud to close and therefore stopping the squirrel from getting to the peanuts. Also all of the feeder parts that are exposed to squirrels are made from chew-proof materials.
Obviously this type of peanut feeder holds peanuts that are still in the shell. If you are using shelled peanuts, you will have to try a different type of feeder.
This is a popular peanut feeder that is specifically designed for shelled peanuts. It’s available from Amazon and when you read the reviews you will see just how much people love it.
Keep in mind, that if you are going to go with shelled peanuts, make sure to use only unsalted peanuts and do not feed seasoned, smoked, candy coated or other flavored peanuts to birds.
Peanuts are a natural source high in fat, oil and protein. Fat is as essential for birds as it is for humans, and provides the birds with much needed energy. Peanuts also provide a lot of nutrients such as potassium, calcium. They also provide much needed fiber into the birds diet.
You will find that peanuts do not spoil as fast as other fat options such as suet cakes and they won’t melt. Peanuts are also relatively inexpensive to purchase.
Which Birds Eat Peanuts?
- Even sparrows will have a peck when peanuts are available, as will quail.
Soda Bottle Feeders
These types of feeder attachments are ideal for anyone on a budget, they are also a clever way to get the kids involved with bird feeding.
The attachment turns soda bottles into bird feeders. It works best with 2L soda bottles. Although one reviewer found a few liquor bottles, such as Southern Comfort, work as well. The attachments are readily available from Amazon and the are really inexpensive.
You can purchase them singly or in a pack of 3. Having 3 of the attachments means you can fill them with different types of bird seed and so, attract different types of birds. Just be aware that you don’t receive the soda bottle or the seed with the attachments. The idea is to recycle soda bottles you have on hand.
They work well with millet, mixed seeds and sunflower seeds although larger seeds will slow down the flow.
Hummingbird feeders are designed to dispense nectar instead of seeds. These feeders have an enclosed container to hold the nectar and they have ports with small holes that the hummingbird can stick it’s beak into.
Ants are attracted to the sweet nectar so you may find that you need to add ant guards to prevent the ants getting into the feeder.
Maybe you would like to add a little bit of class to your assortment of bird feeders, in which case you might like this antique style glass bottle feeder.
It’s designed for hummingbirds to feed from, and has 4 flower shaped feeding ports. The container holds approx 10 ounces of nectar and the base unscrews from the bottle to allow for easy cleaning.
Make Your Own Hummingbird Nectar.
You can make your own nectar to feed your hummingbirds quite easily with two simple ingredients that you more than likely have on hand in your pantry.
The formula is 4 parts water to 1 part plain white granulated sugar.
Do not use honey, brown sugar, artificial sugar substitutes or molasses. The reason for this is that humming birds don’t digest honey and molasses very well and brown sugar contains molasses. Any mixture made with these items will ferment more quickly and go moldly. Sugar substitutes do not provide hummingbirds with the calories they require for energy and they have no nutritional value.
- Bring the water to the boil.
- Turn off the heat.
- Add the sugar and stir until it has dissolved.
There is no need to keep boiling the mixture after you have added the sugar. The heat from the boiled water will easily dissolve the sugar.
Don’t let the mixture keep boiling to the stage where it reduces as this will intensify the sugar concentration.
- When the mixture is completely cool, add it to your hummingbird feeder.
- You can keep any leftovers in the fridge for up to one week.
Ensure that the mixture is cool before adding it to your feeder. If you add hot nectar you may crack the container and the plastic attachments which may cause the feeder to leak.
Depending on the quality of your tap water, you may want to use purified or bottled water.
It won’t take long for you to see how much nectar you need to make and you can adjust the quantity to suit the number of hummingbirds that visit your feeder.
You can also purchase prepared nectar in the form of powder or liquid. Try to buy packaged nectar that doesn’t have the addition of red dye, it’s not necessary
So now you are ready to attract these beautiful birds to your garden.
How to Maintain Your Hummingbird Feeder
Clean hummingbird feeders at least weekly although you may need to do this more often in the warmer seasons and if you have a lot of birds using the feeder.
- Toss any nectar that may be left in the feeder.
- Wash and dry all the components thoroughly.
- Check the ports are clear so that the nectar is readily available to the birds.
- Reassemble the feeder and fill with clean nectar.
Caged Bird Feeders
Just to clarify, I am talking about feeders enclosed in a cage not feeders for caged birds.
If you want to keep large birds and squirrels away from your bird seed then you might want to consider a caged bird feeder. The idea is that having a cage around the feeder will only allow smaller birds access to the seed and stop the squirrels getting to the seed because they are too big to get access.
Having said that some squirrels seem to be very determined and they may eventually work their way around just about any feeder. But by having a cage around the feeder you may just deter them.
In fact if you want to see just how determined squirrels can be take a look at this great video from Mark Rober on his squirrel ninja obstacle course.
I hope you enjoyed the video, I thought it was a great testament to the ingenuity of both human and squirrel. But now back to the informative stuff.
This next feeder is ideal for keeping out the squirrels. It has a large metal seed guard so it keeps out the squirrels while letting the wild birds feed.
This feeder gets good reviews on Amazon. Some of them are so worth reading, both from a practical view and a comedic view, that I urge you to go over and have a read. It will brighten your day.
- The cage is made from steel with openings to allow in birds but they are too small for squirrels.
- There are four ports so that multiple birds can feed at the same time.
- The internal tube holds about 2.5 cups of seed and it ‘s clear so that you can easily see when the seed need to be refilled.
Free Standing Bird Feeders & Bird Feeding Stations
You may not have trees and fences that are suitable for hanging bird feeders in your garden. However, there is a handy alternative. You can buy a freestanding bird feeder on a pole, or a feeding station that will hold multiple containers.
So lets start with a popular pole mounted feeder.
This feeder gets good reviews on Amazon and you can read them here.
There are three steel poles that are inserted into one another and you mount the feeder on top of the poles.
The seed tube is made from an uv resistant material called Lexan, while the feeding ports are made from aluminum and the perches are made from stainless steel.
Now I really liked the idea of a feeding station and I found this one on Amazon that I really like and I so do the majority of the people who have previously purchased it.
I have only just recently purchased one of these and it is the one pictured in the image below.
It was easy to put together and really easy to install. I had to dig a little to loosen the soil as it was quite firm and the spiked end wouldn’t go through.
I’m still looking at getting some hanging feeders for this as they don’t come in the box. You do get the round bird bath tray and the round bird bath feeder so I have added seed to that one and already have birds visiting.
- It’s rust proof
- It has 5 prongs to insert it into the ground for stability.
- There are heavy duty twin top hooks, 2 small arms, mesh tray and bird bath included
- the mesh tray and bowl positions can be easily adjusted on the pole.
The feeding station is very tall, measuring 7ft 8″ in height and it’s 22″ wide. And you can customize the stand to suit the birds.
Another free standing bird feeder is this Verdigris Gazebo. It’s made of plastic and some mention that it is lightweight; so it may need to have some weight added to it. Most agree that it is a nice, decorative bird feeder to have in the garden.
- It measures 39¾” in height and 14½” in diameter
- Makes a nice decorative addition to the garden
- Made of plastic
Fly Through bird feeders
Fly through wild bird feeders will attract a variety of birds to come and feed and this includes birds that like to perch when feeding and also ground feeders. They are ideal for small birds.
This type of bird feeder gives birds a feeling of safety and security while feeding and giving them a quick exit from the feeder if necessary.
These type of feeders often have drainage to allow rain water to drain away, keeping the bird seed relatively dry. They are easy to clean and to refill with new seed.
There are so many lovely designs for fly through bird feeders, so I will feature a few of them here to show you what types are available. You can find out more information about each of these bird feeders by clicking on the individual links to Amazon. You will also be able to see the reviews to help you make up your mind about which type of fly through feeder best suits you, your garden setting and the birds attracted to your back yard.
Window Bird Feeders
Bring the outdoors up close and personal by adding a window bird feeder to your patio. Placing a window feeder will bring you hours of enjoyment, they are also great entertainment for kids and the elderly.
Window bird feeders are generally made from clear acrylic and they attach to the window with suction cups. And they are easy to refill and clean.
This window bird feeder from Nature Gear is very popular on Amazon and receives a lot of great reviews for both the product and the customer service.
It’s quick and easy to mount onto the window, has a high capacity feed tray, a pitched roof, a wider perch and a cut out circle in the back for better viewing or taking photos.
Even so, I don’t hold much faith in anything that has suction cups on it so this isn’t something I would go with.
So, there are a few ideas to get you started. You can see that there are a number of wild bird feeder options available to you once you take the plunge and begin putting out feed for the birds.
I hope this article has helped you to decide what type of feeder may be ideal for your backyard.
Do keep in mind that even though you may start out with only one wild bird feeder, it won’t be long before you add more, especially when you see the different varieties of birds that will come to feed.
Bird watching at home is a delight, the birds are entertaining and you will find yourself spending many hours just enjoying the show