The first bird feeders were very simple. They were probably similar to platform feeders. Bird food, usually table scraps, was put on a flat surface and left for the birds to eat. That simple practice has grown into a multi-million dollar industry providing us with a whole host of choices when shopping for feeders.
When choosing a feeder you need to know the feeding habits of the wild birds you are trying to attract. Most birds that visit your feeders are seed eating birds. Other birds, such as hummingbirds, have more specialized needs. They require a feeder designed to dispense artificial nectar. If you take some time to learn about the wild birds in your area, it will make choosing a feeder easier.
The largest selection of feeders on the market are designed to dispense bird seed.
You can buy wooden bird feeders, metal feeders or plastic feeders, and even feeders that are made from a combination of all three materials.
Tube feeders are probably the most common feeder used today. Tube bird feeders are available in various lengths, from a few inches up to three feet long. You can even purchase a feeder with three separate combined into one feeder. Having one feeder with three seed tubes makes it possible to present three different types of bird seed at the same time. It is like three feeders in one!
Tube feeders come in several lengths, from a few inches up to several feet long. This makes them a perfect choice for almost any location. Tube feeders can be filled with black-oil sunflower seed or any birdseed mixes. Tube bird feeders are designed with multiple feeding ports meant to feed multiple medium and small perching birds. You can attract chickadees, nuthatches, redpolls, tufted titmice, grosbeaks, woodpeckers and more.
If you are trying to attract American Goldfinches, you should use a tube feeder designed to dispense nyjer seed (thistle) sometimes called a thistle feeder.
Hopper feeders are another popular style of feeder. They typically have a large central seed bin that is easy to fill. Hopper feeders come in many shapes including houses, covered bridges and gazebo feeders. One thing that all hopper feeders have in common is that they hold a large amount of bird seed. They are designed to dispense bird seed out of a port or slots at the bottom. Some feeders are designed to dispense seed onto a tray at the bottom.
Hopper feeders are perfect for attracting larger birds like Blue Jays, Grosbeaks, Cardinals and Mourning Doves. These wild birds are not comfortable feeding on the small perches of tube feeders. Having a variety of feeders is the best way to attract a greater variety of birds. If you have a tube feeder now and want to see some new birds then adding a hopper feeder is just what you need.
Platform bird feeders are able hold many different kinds of wild bird food. You can use your own custom mixed bird food treats, almost any type of seed, fruit, insects (grubs), nuts, and amendments (calcium, grit). The large feeding platform is perfect for attracting many wild birds that will not feed from other styles of feeders.
You can attract small perching birds, as well as larger ground feeding birds such as cardinals, thrushes, bluebirds, doves, waxwings, grosbeaks, jays, kinglets, mockingbirds, orioles, robins, siskins, towhees and wrens. Platform bird feeders are very versatile they can be hung, post mounted, deck mounted or placed on the ground with added legs.
If you want a feeder to attract ground-feeding birds, then you can use a different style platform feeder called a ground feeder.
Squirrel proof bird feeders: many backyard birders have battled for years to keep squirrels from devouring their bird seed. This very common problem has led to the development of a wide array of squirrel proof feeders. Almost every style of feeder is available in a squirrel proof form. There are low-tech caged feeders, baffle-style squirrel proof feeders and the newest high tech, weight triggered, motorized squirrel proof feeders.
There are other feeder pests to consider when buying a feeder including cats, raccoons and even bears. Some squirrel proof feeders are more functional than decorative but there are also many attractive feeders that will stop these pests from stealing your bird seed.
If you want to attract hummingbirds with nectar you will need a hummingbird feeder. Hummingbird feeders come in two styles, bottle and dish.
Bottle feeders are commonly made of a glass or plastic bottle turned upside down directing the hummingbird food into a little dish or tube. They often have red plastic flower bee-guards (little plastic screens that keep insects away from the sugar solution) on the feeding ports.
Dish feeders are normally made of plastic. They are basically a covered dish with feeding ports built into the cover. The feeding ports in the top make them less attractive to bees and wasps. Many dish feeders are now designed with a glass storage bottle to dispense the sugar solution from above.
Oriole bird feeders are becoming more popular with backyard birding enthusiasts. Oriole feeders are constructed differently from feeders that dispense bird seed. Some designs dispense nectar and resemble an orange hummingbird feeder. Others styles have dishes for holding jelly or hooks for holding fruit and some are a combination of several different styles.
Many believe that orioles are attracted to the color orange (the color of many types of fruit). If you are having trouble attracting orioles, try tying orange cloth or ribbon on the oriole feeder to catch their attention.
Peanut bird feeders are designed to dispense meaty, nutritious peanuts. Peanuts will be eagerly accepted by many of the backyard birds including blue jays woodpeckers, chickadees, nuthatches, creepers, titmice, and wrens. Using a variety of bird feeders is the best way to attract more birds to your yard. If you don't have a peanut feeder, you may be surprised at the new birds it attracts.
The wire mesh design allows you to observe these tree clinging birds in action as they hang on to the side of the feeder long enough to pull the peanut out. Most peanut bird feeders are designed to be hung.
Suet bird feeders are a special style of wild bird feeder designed to dispense suet bird food. Suet is a high-energy, high-calorie wild bird food perfect for attracting many beloved backyard birds such as woodpeckers, cardinals, blue birds and wrens. The most common style is a simple wire basket that measures about four inches square and is about two inches thick. It is designed specifically for holding commercially produced suet cakes.
Some birds, like woodpeckers and nuthatches, eat insects in addition to seeds. Insect eating birds can easily be attracted with suet bird food.
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