There are many different types of bird feeders, each uniquely designed to hold and dispense a particular seed or mix. Choosing more than one feeder will attract a variety of birds into your backyard.
Ground Platform Feeders
These screen-bottomed trays typically sit several inches off the ground or your deck. Some feeders have covers to keep out rain and snow; others may have wire mesh to keep out squirrels and other animals. Ground feeding platforms should be placed in open areas at least 10 feet from the nearest tree or shrub to give birds a chance to flee predators. Doves, sparrows, goldfinches and cardinals are all likely to visit ground feeders. Avoid using ground feeders if cats or other predators are nearby.
If choosing just one feeder, this is likely the best choice. These feeders are sold with different size seed dispensers to accommodate a variety of seed types. Be sure to select a model with metal ports around the seed dispensers to protect the feeder from nibbling squirrels and house sparrows. Hang the feeder at least five feet off the ground and try to position it near a window where you can enjoy the visitors, which are likely to include chickadees, titmice, nuthatches, goldfinches, and purple and house finches.
Suet is popular with titmice, chickadees, nuthatches and woodpeckers. Wrens, creepers and warblers will also occasionally peck at suet. It is commonly suspended in cage feeders. Some people like to make their own suet “puddings” by grinding the suet and adding seeds, and create homemade suet feeders by packing the mixture into the crevices of large pine cones or hollowed out limb pieces. Suet feeders can be hung from trees, from poles near other feeders, or from a wire stretched between trees. Avoid feeding suet when temperatures rise into the 80-degree range, as it can turn rancid.
Hopper feeders keep several pounds of mixed seed dry and ready for hungry birds. Birds hopping on the feeder trigger the release of seeds. Hopper feeders should be positioned on a pole about five feet off the ground and will draw all the species that tube feeders attract, along with larger birds like jays, grackles, red-winged blackbirds and cardinals.
Thistle (nyjer) feeder
Especially designed to dispense thistle (nyjer) seed, these feeders have tiny holes that make the seed available only to small-beaked finches such as goldfinches, redpolls and pine siskins. Hang your thistle feeder from a tree or place it on a five-foot pole near other feeders.
Some feeders offer a combination of dispensers to accommodate a variety of seeds. Most combinations include a suet and sunflower/seed mix dispenser, or seed mix and thistle dispensers.
Hummingbird & Oriole Feeders
Hummingbird feeders dispense a sugary “nectar” to hummingbirds. These feeders are usually red or brightly colored and have 4-6 dispensers for the the tiny birds to stick their beaks into to drink the sugar mixture. Nectar can be purchased or made at home with a 1:4 sugar water mix heated to a quick boil. These feeders need to be closely maintained as they should be refilled often and kept clean to eliminate insect problems.
Birds such as orioles and woodpeckers enjoy fresh fruit. These feeders are usually composed of a platform with a stake or dowel to hold fresh fruit. These feeders should be hung or mounted at least 5 feet above the ground and cleaned often to prevent disease or insect infestation.
“by Bill Askenburg, Owner – New England Birdhouse. We specialize in fine architectural bird houses and feeders, offering handcrafted custom and stock replica bird houses and backyard birding supplies and garden decor. For more information or articles please visit our blog.”