What Should I Consider When Buying a Bird Feeder?

Paulla Estes
Paulla Estes

When buying a bird feeder, always consider the types of birds you are trying to attract, as well as whether or not you want to feed the neighborhood squirrels as well.

Two birds in a backyard.
Two birds in a backyard.

A suet bird feeder is one of the easiest bird feeders to use, with a simple wire basket that holds pre-packaged suet cakes. Woodpeckers and other birds that eat bugs from the holes in trees will visit a suet bird feeder. When the suet has all been eaten, simply open the basket and put another suet cake inside.

A hopper bird feeder, also known as a wood feeder, has a container which holds bird seed and an opening on the sides at the bottom, where the seeds spill out as birds consume them. A hopper bird feeder is easy to fill; seeds are simply poured into an opening in the top. Nearly any bird will visit a hopper bird feeder, including chickadees, blue jays, and starlings.

A bowl bird feeder is simply a hanging bowl with a plastic dome-shaped cover to keep the weather out. Like the hopper bird feeder, this type of feeder is popular with many types of birds.

A hummingbird on a feeder.
A hummingbird on a feeder.

A platform bird feeder is, as the name implies, a flat table raised off the ground. Some platform feeders have a roof-type cover to protect them from the weather, but many do not. Ground feeding birds such as doves, cardinals and robins will show interest in a platform bird feeder. A ground bird feeder is just like the platform feeder, but it sits directly on the ground.

A tube bird feeder is a vertical tube with various openings on the sides and tiny perches for smaller birds such as chickadees and finches. Seeds are poured in through an opening in the top, and then move down the tube as seeds are consumed.

Hummingbird feeders are a bit different in that they hold liquid nectar, which appeals to hummingbirds. They are often brightly colored and shaped like a flower.

Bird feeders that are especially dirty can be cleaned with a bleach and water mixture and rinsed well.
Bird feeders that are especially dirty can be cleaned with a bleach and water mixture and rinsed well.

Always keep your bird feeder clean. Wet seeds and hulls become moldy and need to be shaken out at least once a week. Usually, just cleaning your bird feeder with water is good enough, but if it is especially dirty, use a mixture of one part bleach to twenty parts water.

If you want to keep squirrels out of your bird feeder, consider mounting it on a tall pole in the center of your yard, away from any trees. The pole must be at least five feet high and at least ten feet away from any tree or other surface from which a squirrel may jump. Squirrel baffles can also be purchased for further protection.

Paulla Estes
Paulla Estes

Paulla is a freelance writer and website editor who currently lives in Maine. Paulla has a B.A. in English Literature from George Mason University and over 15 years of experience as a freelancer. She relishes the flexibility and consistency of working on articles, as well as the opportunity to constantly learn something new.

Paulla Estes
Paulla Estes

Paulla is a freelance writer and website editor who currently lives in Maine. Paulla has a B.A. in English Literature from George Mason University and over 15 years of experience as a freelancer. She relishes the flexibility and consistency of working on articles, as well as the opportunity to constantly learn something new.

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Discussion Comments

anon16499

Hello fellow bird lovers!! If you are having any trouble with damp moldy seed or cloudy feeders, try the feeder fresh product. It works! It is the only thing I have found that keeps the seed dry and feeder clean, plus is is safe for the birds!! Try it! I was pleasantly surprised!!

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    • Two birds in a backyard.
      Two birds in a backyard.
    • A hummingbird on a feeder.
      A hummingbird on a feeder.
    • Bird feeders that are especially dirty can be cleaned with a bleach and water mixture and rinsed well.
      Bird feeders that are especially dirty can be cleaned with a bleach and water mixture and rinsed well.