Last Updated on April 18, 2021
Birds delight us with their gorgeous colors and delightful songs. It’s no wonder that we like to enjoy them at home too. Over 40% of American households feed them at least sometimes, spending around $100 a year on food. Feeding seed and fruit-eating birds is easy, as there is a wide range of foodstuffs and feeders available from which to choose.
You’ll find specialized feeders for filling with certain food types, such as thistle seeds or peanuts. It doesn’t take long for other wildlife to come calling for a free snack too. That’s why you’ll also see items designed to keep other animals from getting to the stuff inside of a bird feeder.
While birds can see colors, the main attraction of many feeders to get you, the homeowner, to buy them. That’s why you’ll find products that will appeal to different tastes or senses of humor. It’s helpful to consider the type that you want to get, especially if you’re trying to attract certain species to your yard. Fortunately, you find a wide range of styles to suit your needs.
Platform feeders are simply flat trays on a pole or hanging from a hook. Many aren’t that high, usually 2-3 feet off the ground. It’s convenient to fill and clean because of this style. The birds enjoy it, too, since it gives them ready access to the food. However, it’s also an open invite for squirrels and other wildlife, including deer. It’s also messy.
A tube feeder is an excellent choice for a variety of foods, including safflower and sunflower seeds. You’ll likely attract many birds with this type, such as chickadees and cardinals. It may also attract species you don’t want, like grackles. That’s why many products have mechanisms that cut off the food supply if a larger bird or a squirrel tries to get at it.
A window feeder is typically a partially enclosed plastic box with suction cups on the back to attach it to the glass. Many are smaller and will attract songbirds that can fit inside of them. The advantage is being able to see the visitors up close. Your kids will like it and your cat will hate it. The slickness of the glass deters squirrels too. The one drawback is birds getting injured by flying into the window.
A Nyjer or thistle feeder is a specialized product to hold these tiny seeds. Nyjer is the commercial name for the seeds of an African yellow daisy. Many birds love this food, such as goldfinches, sparrows, and juncos. The design effectively deters non-targeted species. That’s a good thing because this food is probably one of the most expensive ones on the market.
A suet feeder is merely a metal square cage with a hook. It’s the ideal size for suet cakes, which are a nutrient and energy-dense food that you can offer during the winter. Many year-round residents will take advantage of the treat. Unfortunately, that also means squirrels, since the openings are usually large enough for them to get their paws inside of it.
A hopper feeder is probably what you think of at the mention of a bird feeder. It typically has a square or rectangle frame with a container inside to hold the seeds. Many have an open feeding area with perches all around it. Most have a sloped or slanted roof to deter squirrels and cats. You’ll find them in a wide variety of styles to match your house or landscaping.
A mesh feeder is shaped like a sock for holding thistle or other small seeds. The smaller size is perfect for songbirds like sparrows. They are easy to clean and relatively inexpensive, which makes them worth considering. However, a tenacious squirrel might be able to tear one open. Correct placement is essential.
A hummingbird feeder is a plastic or glass container for holding nectar. The best kinds are red, which will attract these tiny birds. Look for products that have bee guards to prevent them from using them. You should also hang it in a shady location and move it frequently to deter insects. The hummingbirds will still find it, but the bees will move on to easier pickings.
A peanut feeder often comes in a wreath shape formed by a tube to fill it with these nuts. Woodpeckers and blue jays are especially fond of this treat. The one drawback is the mess that the birds will leave in their wake. It’s also likely to bring squirrels to your yard, which enjoy peanuts as much as jays do.
Many birds love fruit, making it a special treat if you put some out for them. You can easily make a feeder yourself by nailing orange halves onto a small board. Orioles, grosbeaks, and cardinals will likely pay a visit soon after you make fruit available. Squirrels and other mammals might raid it, but proper placement can keep it out of reach.
A small platform feeder can double as a container for offering mealworms to your avian friends. Insect-eating birds, such as wrens, thrushes, and bluebirds, will welcome this high-protein food and the easy way to get it without doing much foraging. You can get freeze-dried mealworms to keep it stocked for visitors to your yard.
Repurposing stuff that takes up a great deal of room in your recycling can is always a smart idea. A 1-liter or 2-liter bottle fits the bill perfectly when used with a tray to control the flow of seeds. Of course, you can decorate the outside of the bottle any way you like.
A free-standing feeder is an excellent choice to keep squirrels at bay. You can place it in the center of your yard, far out of reach of pests. You can wrap the pole in aluminum or with a PVC pipe to create a slick surface that can make it hard for these intruders to climb it. This also gives you more options for its location. You can put it wherever you will get the most enjoyment from it.
Inevitably, you may find yourself wanting a squirrel-proof feeder. Baffles help, but sometimes you need to take it to the next level. These models often have cages around the food to keep it out of their reach.
This type covers the gamut of every outlandish feeder that you’ll see. It’s only limited by the manufacturer’s imagination. We’ve seen everything, from barns and windmills to the green man. Birds don’t care how a feeder looks, they just want the food. As long as it’s functional, get whatever kind of feeder you like.
There is a great deal of specialization in these product lines. You can find ones that can accommodate any food type, whereas others are best for specific ones. The essential thing to remember is to keep it filled. It’s the best thing that you can do to ensure that birds will keep stopping by your yard in their search for a bite to eat.
Featured Image credit: File Upload Bot, Wikimedia
Robert’s obsession with all things optical started early in life, when his optician father would bring home prototypes for Robert to play with. Nowadays, Robert is dedicated to helping others find the right optics for their needs. His hobbies include astronomy, astrophysics, and model building. Originally from Newark, NJ, he resides in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where the nighttime skies are filled with glittering stars.
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