A Guide To Choosing the Right Bird Feeder

Not all bird feeders are created equal. Choosing the right bird feeder for your home takes more significant thought and consideration than you might expect, and it’s not just about picking the one with the most bells and whistles. You need to ask yourself certain questions: What kind of birds do you want to attract? What does maintenance look like? Where is the feeder going to be placed?

If you’re not sure how to answer any or all of those questions, don’t fret. With a little research, you’ll be able to choose the perfect bird feeder for your home. Below, we’ve created a guide with everything that you need to know to find the best bird feeders for small birds and big birds, including low-maintenance and high-maintenance options. Read on, and soon you’ll find the bird feeder of your dreams!

To start off, you should know that there are several types of bird feeders. We’ve narrowed it down to our four favorite types: tray feeders, tubular feeders, window feeders and suet feeders.

Tray/Platform Feeders

If you live in an area with a lot of different types of birds, then a tray feeder may be a good fit for you. Tray feeders attract the widest variety of seed-eating birds. Placed in a tree, you’ll get doves and sparrows, and if the tray is placed near the ground, juncos, doves, jays and blackbirds will flock to your feed. Trays are flat, so they are extremely easy to fill and provide excellent visibility of all the different species that feed on them. 

The cons of using a tray/platform feeder are that it is not squirrel-proof nor is it weatherproof. If you live in an area with only light rain showers, you can get away with using a covered tray like this one from Stokes. However, if inclement weather like heavy rain, wind or snow is a regular occurrence for you, a tray feeder might not be the best choice. Even with some rain, seeds in a tray feeder can sprout or foster bacterial and fungal growth. Be prepared to perform regular maintenance, including emptying the draining system (if there is one), hosing out the bottom of the feeder and changing the seeds every day or two.

Tubular Feeders

Tube feeders are great for attracting chickadees, titmice, nuthatches, finches and other small birds. Tube feeders are usually clear with small perches along the bottom or made from a cage-like material that birds can grip on to. The latter option is especially great if squirrels are an issue for you. This type of tube feeder, if made out of metal, prevents squirrels from chewing through and eating all the seed.

Tube feeders are on the lower side maintenance-wise, but they do run the risk of excluding larger species of birds. If you’re concerned about this, try and find a tube feeder with larger perching areas, like this one

Window Feeders

Window feeders attach to window glass via suction cups, so they’re excellent for getting close-up looks at species like finches, chickadees, titmice and some sparrows. Offering a perch on a glass window also makes this type of feeder the best for avoiding window collisions. We recommend taking a look at the Perky Pet Birdscapes Bird Feeder, which even offers an extra window to peer in at your aviary friends. 

Window feeders are very easy to access, clean and refill, which is good news, because birds frequently stand on the seeds while they’re eating them, contaminating the feed and requiring that it be cleaned out at the end of every day (or at the bare minimum, every other day). 

Suet Feeders

Suet feeders are similar to the cage version of tube feeders, but they offer larger perches so that medium to bigger birds can use them along with smaller species. In general, suet feeders attract a variety of woodpeckers, nuthatches, chickadees, titmice and jays. If you want to prevent starlings from eating all of your suet, get an upside-down suet feeder, as starlings have trouble perching upside down while feeding. This large feeder would be a good choice.

Some people use mesh onion bags as suet feeders. While this can work, bird toes can become entangled in the bag, trapping the bird and leading to its death if someone doesn’t notice and release the bird quickly. We recommend sticking with suet cages for a safer option. 

Hopefully this guide has provided some clarity as to which bird feeder you should choose. As always, we’re here to answer any and all questions you may have to ensure that the product you purchase is exactly what you’re looking for. Happy bird feeding!


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