How to Choose the Best Bird Feeder
Invite Your Feathered Friends Over With Backyard Bird Feeders
Hang a bird feeder in your yard and watch the action happen. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself spending many hours watching the amazing life of birds unfold through your window. Take a look at the different types of bird feeders available and choose the best bird feeder for you based on your location and the type of birds you would like to attract. From finches to cardinals to chickadees to hummingbirds, we have you covered.
Platform Bird Feeders
These feeders feature a wide tray to hold seed and give birds a place to land. They are very easy to clean but don’t allow any protection from the elements or other critters. Platform feeders attract a variety of birds including pigeons, starlings, house finches, northern cardinals, and sparrows. You’re likely to find yourself watching squirrels and chipmunks as much as you will the birds with this kind of feeder. A platform feeder can look right at home in your yard among your other garden ornaments.
These handy feeders typically hold several pounds of seed and might be your best option when looking for the best squirrel-proof bird feeder. Its enclosure design keeps seed protected from the elements, however, seed can still get wet and spoil which is bad for birds. Be sure to check it every few days. Birds that will appreciate this kind of feeder include cardinals, finches, jays, chickadees and sparrows.
These hanging bird feeders keep seed protected and allow birds to eat the seed through a screen or several ports. Some models empty directly into a dish, and others with perches will be of particular interest to those birds that can hang upside down with ease, such as goldfinches and chickadees.
When you want to see the birds as up close as possible, try this style of bird feeder. Typically, these small feeders use suction cups to attach to a window and offer a front-row seat to bird watchers. Clean out feeders daily and make sure the seed is fresh. Look for finches, chickadees and some sparrows to visit window feeders often.
Nyjer seed, also known as thistle seed, is a tiny black oilseed that is featured in tube-shaped feeders made especially for small-beaked birds, such as goldfinches. You will still need to keep an eye on the seed and make sure that it doesn’t get wet or spoil. But chances are, you won’t find as many squirrels trying to take this one over from their feathered friends.
These feeders hold suet cakes, which is a type of fat mixed with protein feed, grains, and seeds and shaped into the shape of a cake. Hang one of these feeders, fill it with suet cakes and you’ll attract the attention of woodpeckers, bluebirds, nuthatches, cardinals and starlings.
This feeder doesn’t hold seed at all. Instead, fill it with nectar substitute, which can be bought at your local garden store, or look for simple homemade recipes. Watch the show that only hummingbirds can put on with their lighting quick flight. Below are a few more tips on how to attract and feed hummingbirds.
How to Attract Hummingbirds
Hummingbirds do not have a keen sense of smell and rely on bright colors to find their food. They are particularly fond of the color red. You can attract their attention by placing the feeder in your garden among flowers that hummingbirds prefer like Petunias, Geraniums, Begonias or Fuchsias.
Since most hummingbirds migrate, feeders should be put up in time for their arrival. This will vary greatly depending upon what part of the country you call home. Learn the ETA for your area at www.hummingbirds.net and get your feeder up 5-10 days in advance.
- At the beginning of the season, the ratio of sugar to water is 4 cups water to 1-cup sugar.
- At the end of the season (mid-August) it’s 5 cups water to 1 cup sugar.
- Hummingbirds need the most energy at the beginning of the season when they are raising their babies. At the end of the season the mixture should be weakened so the birds will migrate.
When to Take Feeders Down
Migration is based on the changing day length (photoperiod), not food supply, so taking your feeder down before they leave will not prevent them from migrating. But if you leave your feeder up until at least two weeks after seeing your last hummer, you could be helping nourish any younger or weaker birds yet to leave.