How To Select a Wild Bird Feeder© 2011 by TotallyBirds.com - All Rights Reserved
The best way to attract wild birds to your yard is to give them the types of wild bird food that they want. Also consider how that food will be served. While many wild birds will eat while clinging to a perch, others will only eat from level surfaces. Match the feeders that you use in your yard to the types of birds in your area. Better yet, set up a number of different feeders to offer food to the widest variety of feathered friends.
How Will The Feeder Be Mounted?
This is the first question to ask. If you have lots of mature trees in your yard, hanging the feeders from tree branches might be your best option. If there are no trees, you might want to mount the feeders on posts or poles. Another option is the hang feeders from the roof soffit so that they are outside of your windows and easy to watch and fill. Only lightweight feeders should be hung next to windows and they should be mounted to minimize the danger that a large bird or strong gust of wind would cause the feeder to break a window.
Here are some options for bird feeders.
Gravity Fed Feeders
Gravity fed feeders are the most common. A gravity fed feeder will have a hopper that is filled with seed that is metered out through holes or slots in the side or into a tray near the bottom of the feeders. These types of feeders work best when mounted on a sturdy pole or hung from a strong tree branch. A gravity fed feeder is usually the best all-around choice for the main bird feeder in your yard. You can supplement this with other types of specialty feeders.
Some types of birds, such as cardinals and morning doves, prefer to eat from level surfaces, which is where platform feeders excel. A platform feeder is also a good way to server pieces of bread, slices of fruit and other delicacies. If you live in an area that gets a lot of rain, consider purchasing a covered platform feeder to help keep the food from getting wet and becoming spoiled.
Basket feeders are used to serve shelled peanuts, sunflower seeds, thistle and nyjer seeds. Most nut feeders are made out of a metal mesh that holds the nuts, but allows birds to extract pieces or whole nuts. Some nyjer seed feeders come in a nylon mesh sack that you simply hang in a convenient place, but others are tubular in design and intended to be refilled.
Suet feeders are mostly used in northern states to provide fat energy to wild birds to help them survive the harsh winters. Suet feeders should only be used during cold weather because suet will spoil in warmer weather. A variety of suet food is available in prepared cakes that slip into the standard sized baskets found with most suet feeders. Along with the suet, these prepared cakes include ingredients such as nuts, berries and bits of fruit to help attract your feathered friends. Hang suet feeders from a tree branch and away from your decks and patios because suet tends to be a bit messy. Watch out for marauding hungry squirrels that might quickly devour suet cakes. If you can hang a suet feeder out of the reach of squirrels, the food will likely last much longer.
Liquid feeders, such as hummingbird feeders, can also be used to feed orioles and some varieties of woodpeckers. Hummingbird feeders are frequently hung outside of windows where you can watch the tiny hummers flit back and forth. Look for liquid feeders that use glass jars or bottles. These will be easier to clean and can be occassionally sterilized in boiling water if they start to build up with algae or a fungus. We steralize all of our glass hummingbird feeders at least once per month with boiling water.
Other Types of Wild Bird Feeders
Bird feeders come in a wide variety of designs. Some are specialty feeders intended to serve corn, peanut butter, jelly or fruit. Have some fun and test unusual designs to see if they work well for your yard.