What are the Different kinds of Feeders and which one should You use?

The kind of feeder you use will determine the variety of birds you attract. While some birds like to perch, other like to cling, while other prefer sitting and still others prefer hanging upside down. Feeders are designed while keeping these various preferences in mind as well as the kind of seed birds prefer. So if you want to attract the widest possible range of birds into you garden, you should mix and match all kinds of feeders..

Here are the different kinds of feeders along with the birds they attract:

Seed Feeders: Tube and Hopper Feeders

Seed feeders are the most common type.  These come in varying designs: from tubes, trays to hoppers. Both tube and hopper seed feeders are especially squirrel proof.  Designers have developed special mechanisms to protect against large rodents. For example, some are weight sensitive, and shut off the access to the seed ports, whenever a heavyweight is detected. This ensures that nothing other than birds can feed.

The Tube Feeder is the simplest type of squirrel proof feeder. It is a tube-like structure, surrounded by a metal cage; the tube is mostly made of clear plastic with plastic or metal caps , bases and perches. They have several ports so that many birds can feed at the same time. The hollow tubes ensure that the seed remains clean and dry enough for feeding. Some designes have the perches fitted above the feeding ports for birds that hang and feed upside down.

Something to keep in mind with tube feeders is that on many, the tube extends an inch or so below the feeding port which means that seeds can collect here over time and become a breeding ground for bacteria. You should clean this ever so often to prevent this situation.

Some birds that like the tube: grosbeacks, nuthatches, titmice, sparrows, jays. Goldfinches and chickadees like to hang and feed

 Nyjer feeders  are a special kind of tube feeder. They are also called thistle feeders. They either come as tubes with small feeding ports or mesh bags which birds cling to to extract seeds. The same stuff applies to these as the tube feeders. You don’t need to worry about squirrels with these, since they are not particularly attracted to the nyjer seed which is  very small.

It is quite amusing and fun to observe the finch in pursuit of the tiny nyjer seed within the shell. Ahh, there is alot of pleaure to be had just watching nature in action.

Birds:  Goldfinches, pine Siskins and coomon redpoles love this feeder.

.The hopper or house feeder is good for birds that like to land and feed on larger surfaces. They provide shelter from the elements and bird droppings, although, if they do get wet, they are a problem to clean and maintain. They are functional as well as decorative.

Hopper birds: cardinals, woodpeckers, doves, finches and again some overlap with the tube feeding birds.

Tray/ Platform feeders:

Just as the name suggest, tray feeders are rectangular and shaped like a tray. They come in different sizes. Because of their shape, larger birds can feed in them. Most tray feeders do not have a roof, so rain and snow can fall into the seed. Therefore these need more cleaning.

These feeders have a screened vs. solid bottom to help with complete drainage. As with the rain and snow, bird droppings can quickly soil the seed in tray feeders, so it is important that they have several drainage holes.  Even with drainage, the bottom should be removable for fairly frequent cleaning.  Also, you should make it a point to offer just enough seed for the birds to finish every day or two and then shake out the bottom every time you add new seeds.

It is advisable to install the platform on a pole or hang them from a suspension chain or mount them on a deck railing or post and add a baffle to keep the pesky rodents out.

Ground feeders: it is a good precaution to place them at least 10 feet from any bushes or thick coverings. This helps to keep the predators from a bird meal!.  You can also purchase ground feeders that have wire mesh to prevent rodents and large birds from stealing food.

Some birds that are attracted to Tray and Ground feeders: sparrows, cardinals, gloves, goldfinches, towhees, robins, juncos, grosbeacks, starlings and well, many more.

Suet feeders

These are made especially for birds that cling to tree trunks to feed. They have metal cages instead of perches, which birds cling to for feeding. These feeders can be tied or nailed to a tree trunk or suspended from a hopper feeder. A lot of times people worry that birds tounges may stick to the metal; for this purpose there are plastic coated feeders available as well.

As the name suggest the suet feeder is for housing suet. For those who are not aware, suet is a raw fat of the kidneys or lions of cattle. You can also put seed cakes in these feeders.

Birds that flock to the suet: jays, variety of woodpeckers, nuthatches, chickadees, wrens and more.

The Oriole  or Nectar feeder

This feeder is especially designed for new world orioles who have an unsually shaped tongue and beak.  They house nectar, which is made from plant exracts, which can be mixed with water and sugar. In warm weather, you should change the nectar often, so that it doesn’t spoil.

Aside from the oriole, this type of feeder is also a favorite of the hummingbird.

Window feeders

As the name suggest, these can be attached to windows and provides a nice view of birds feeding. They have suction cups which attach effortlessly and they are transparent, so they do not obstruct your view.