How to Choose a Bird Feeder


As birds naturally visit homes, there is no better way to start one’s day than with a morning cup of coffee and colorful, singing birds at the doorstep. But far beyond the company of the beautiful birds that roam around one’s outdoor space, there is something special about bird feeding. It allows anyone to nurture these unique creatures in close proximity and enjoy the colors, songs, and behaviors that birds bring with them. Even when doing so takes effort and dedication, bird lovers consistently do it for their benefit and for the local birds as well. Bird-feeding can be as simple as setting up a feeder outdoors. Selecting a bird feeder, however, can be a bit confusing as there are hundreds, if not thousands of bird feeders available in the market.

To simplify things, this guide rounds up the factors that make up a great bird feeder. These include:

  • Bird Feeder Design
  • Water Placement
  • Seed Location
  • Maintenance
  • Ease of Installation
  • Weather Resistance
  • Pest and Mold Resistance
  • Cost
  • Overall Birding Experience

It might be difficult to believe that bird feeding can help restore the balance of nature. But, research has it that bird feeding helps more baby birds survive. With more birds to feed on insects, fewer chemicals will be needed for insect control, thus, creating a healthier environment for people to live in. What’s more, the simple act of putting out a bird feeder in the yard or by the window can greatly make a difference in the survival rates of birds. Accordingly, survival rates for birds are high in areas where bird feeders are present. 

Not all bird feeders are created equal. As a matter of fact, some feeders cannot accommodate all backyard birds and their diets. Below are the common types of bird feeders and the different types of birds each feeder attracts:

Tray of Platform Bird Feeder

Most tray or platform feeders have a screen bottom instead of a solid one. The reason for this is to promote complete drainage and prevent wet seeds that foster bacterial growth. This feeder attracts common seed-eating birds like house sparrows, native sparrows, pigeons, starlings, and grosbeaks.

Hopper or House Bird Feeder

This type of feeder attracts most feeder birds such as finches, jays, cardinals, buntings, grosbeaks, sparrows, chickadees, and titmice. As a classic style of a bird feeder, hopper or house provides an enclosed room for the seed so that it does not spill out. It comes in different shapes that are designed for birds to perch and eat easily.

Window Bird Feeder

Window Bird Feeders are basically small plastic feeders affixed to a window glass that provides a personal and close-up view of birds like finches, sparrows, titmice, and chickadees. With this type of feeder, there is no need to use binoculars as you can enjoy watching your feathered visitors by the window. 

Tube Bird Feeder

For small birds like siskins, sparrows, grosbeaks, chickadees, titmice, and finches, a tube bird feeder gets the most attraction. Most tube bird feeders hang upside down and can accommodate a dozen or more birds at a time.

Thistle or Nyjer Bird Feeder

bird feeder

Popular with American goldfinches, pine siskins, and common redpolls, thistle or nyjer bird feeder comes in two forms- tube feeders with small feeding ports and thistle socks which birds cling to during extraction of seed. 

Suet Bird Feeder

Constructed from wire mesh or plastic coated-wire mesh, a suet bird feeder can be suspended from a tree or attached to the side of a hopper feeder. It particularly attracts starlings, titmice, woodpeckers, nuthatches, chickadees, and jays.

Depending on which feeder you select and the type of birds that benefit from your generosity, there are many advantages to making your home an inviting place for birds to live, eat, and play around:

Bird Education

It cannot be denied that bird feeding is an enthralling educational activity. Moreover, it is a great avenue for learning bird’s behavioral patterns, identifications, and personalities. By experimenting with feeder types and feeder styles, you can gain a wide understanding of your local avifauna.

Nature Interaction

For senior citizens and young children with limited mobility, going on a forest adventure to see birds is not really an ideal activity. But with bird feeders at home, they can attract birds and have the chance to interact with them.

Flower Pollination

bird feeder

Birds assist with flower pollination. Knowing that you have birds that help with full flowerbeds and beautiful garden landscapes is definitely bolstering.

Weed Control

Sparrow and Finches eat tremendous amounts of undesirable weed seeds. Keeping such birds in your yard allows for less effort in gardening.

BIRD FEEDER DESIGN

An important consideration in selecting a bird feeder is the design. You have to think about whether or not it is aesthetically pleasing and suiting to your outdoor landscape and overall theme. There are new designs and finishes made available today. You can either go for a plastic feeder or a metal one, depending on your preference. More than the aesthetics, the design should allow for easy access to the food that is inside. If the bird feeder is inviting but makes it hard for birds to locate the food, there is no point setting up a bird feeder at all. To simply put, the design should not compromise the feeding experience.

WATER PLACEMENT

This is also an important consideration because not all bird feeders come with a place for water. Before buying a bird feeder, check if it has a water placement feature. Do not forget that water is as important as food, and therefore a bird feeder with a good placement for water will make your outdoor area more desirable. 

SEED LOCATION

Seed location is another consideration in selecting a bird feeder. Same with humans, birds have their own preferences when it comes to type of seed, suet, or fruit. Some bird feeders are only designed to dispense certain types and sizes of seed. Bird feeders with larger openings are suited for birds that feed on larger seeds. On the other hand, bird feeders with smaller openings are suited for birds that feed on smaller seeds. To make sure that you get the seed location right, purchase the bird feeder that is able to work with a wide variety of seed. It makes the most sense to get a mixed seed bird feeder and save money.

MAINTENANCE

Maintenance comes down to the first consideration- design of the bird feeder. Some bird feeders are not designed with cleaning in mind that it is essential to select the one that can be taken apart for easy cleaning. If you have to wash the whole thing, you may not be able to reach the spaces where water gets trapped. As a result, molds, and bacteria develop. When it comes to maintaining a bird feeder, bacterial growth is a huge health concern for the birds who feed there. The obvious solution is to buy the bird feeder that allows you to clean and disinfect it several times a year. 

EASE OF INSTALLATION

Some bird feeders are held together using glue while some come with necessary mounting hardware. Depending on which provide the easiest installation process, you can choose from the following ways to install bird feeders: hanging, pole or post mount, shephard’s hook, table or ground, window, and wall. For newbies, when it comes to bird feeding, they may not realize that some species of birds prefer certain types of installations. 

Hanging hanging the bird feeder from a hook or limb of the tree

Pole or Post Mountattaching the bird feeder to the top of a pole or a post

Shepard’s Hook similar to hanging and pole mount installation

Table or Ground placing the bird feeder on top of a table or on the ground

Window mounting the bird feeder via window sills or suction cups

Wall installing the bird feeder on a wall of a house or barn

WEATHER RESISTANCE

In selecting a bird feeder, you need to research what the model is constructed from and how will it last nasty weather conditions as well as wear and tear. After all, the bird feeder is supposed to accommodate frequent flying visitors 365 days a year. A lot of the bird feeder’s weather resistance has something to do with its capacity to handle abrupt changes in the weather. If you get the bird feeder that gets brittle easily after exposure to ultraviolet rays, cracks that let water in and dump bird food on the ground will start to form. By overlooking the importance of quality during purchase, the efforts and money you put in will be in vain. For this reason, pick the one that is properly crafted from durable materials and can work well season after season. 

PEST AND MOLD RESISTANCE

Taking into consideration how well a bird feeder deters pests and mold is a smart move in selecting a bird feeder. As birdseed, suet, and fruit are the favorite food of squirrels, bears, raccoons, gophers, foxes, and chipmunks, birds may be discouraged from visiting and having to compete with them. If you do not want to let, these creatures scare the birds away and eventually destroy your bird feeder, select the model that is resistant to pests. There are bird feeders in the market that come with features that block these animals from getting access to the food. Others have built-in locking mechanisms, cage, and engineered deterrents. There are also bird feeders that have a baffling feature that makes any creature that climbs up on the feeder to slip and fall off. Additionally, protecting your feeder from mold and bacteria has a lot to do with a bird feeder that can handle sediment, rain, and drainage well.

COST

The only way to estimate the cost of a bird feeder is to understand its usefulness. A 20-dollar bird feeder may not be as a deal-breaker as a 100-dollar bird feeder with outstanding features. Depending on your budget, choose the bird feeder that can be valuable to you and your visiting birds.

OVERALL BIRDING EXPERIENCE

The overall birding experience is what bird feeding is all about. A big part of selecting a bird feeder is this consideration. If your bird feeder makes you consistently wrestle to get the cap off or constantly keep unwanted squirrels from getting at the bird’s food, you are not enjoying the comforting experience that bird feeding is meant to be. That is why it is necessary to get the easy to use and effective products that provide you a birding experience like no other.

Related Questions:

What kind of seeds do birds prefer?

Different birds prefer different kinds of seed, but black oil sunflower seeds seem to be the most common favorite of birds like the black-capped chickadee, tufted titmouse, white, and red-breasted nuthatches, northern cardinal, evening and rose-breasted grosbeaks, house finch, and blue jays. Other bird lovers use cheap mixed seed; however, waste occurs when birds only consume the sunflower seeds in it.

What is the best way to store birdseed?

The last thing you want is to provide rodents access to the seed. So, put the birdseed in a rodent-proof container and keep it in a dry place.

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