Bird Feeder Types
Feeding birds in your yard is one of the most popular hobbies today, for a variety of reasons. One may be the variety of feeder types available, to meet almost any birding need. Seed feeders tend to fall into three main categories, hopper, tube, or platform feeders.
In hopper feeders, a platform forms a base of the feeder, around or upon which walls and a roof are built to create a gravity-fed reservoir. This hopper protects seed from the elements and can attract both large and small birds. Some are even weight sensitive to help select the size birds you wish to feed. Always be especially careful when cleaning your hopper feeder. Some hoppers are not as effective at protecting seed from rain, so ensure that seed is not moldy at refill time. Most hoppers hold a good amount of seed.
Tube feeders feature a hollow cylinder with multiple feeding ports and perches along the body. These feeders generally protect seed from precipitation, keeping it dry. Differing perch sizes on tube feeders can make them songbird selective. For example, a tube feeder with small perches will be appropriate for chickadees, but will prevent jays from dining. The number of ports and perches on each tube feeder varies, as well as their size, for holding varying amounts of seed.
Platform or tray feeders have an open tray on which the food is placed. This type of feeder can hold virtually any type of feed for your birds, and can vary widely in size and capacity. They can hang alone, be placed below a tube feeder, or attach to a pole or post. This type of feeder offers little protection against squirrels or the elements, but do allow the widest amount of birds to feed.
Different feeders are designed for offering fodder other than seed, such as suet, fruit, nectar, and mealworms.
Suet feeders are often designed as a cage without perches, for birds to cling onto it and reach for the suet. Most are square, to accommodate one formed suet cake, and can be designed for single or double cakes. These types of feeders can also accommodate seed blocks of a similar size, and are usually designed to hang from a hook. Suet feeders help attract clinging birds such as chickadees, titmice, and woodpeckers to an area.
Fruit feeders are designed to accommodate slices of bananas, apples, or oranges on a peg, for birds to be able to easily reach the food. Others may include small cups for placing grapes or orange segments for the birds. These feeders come in a variety of shapes and sizes, many designed for holding oranges to attract orioles and tanagers.
Hummingbird feeders can be styled like a bottle or saucer, and are made to hold nectar for hummingbirds. These feeders are enclosed and often made of glass or plastic, with anywhere from one to six feeding ports. Most feeders have red ports or red bases, as this color is known to help attract hummingbirds. Bee guards and ant moats are often incorporated into the design, to keep insect pests from contaminating the nectar. Be sure to clean the exterior of the feeder at every filling to keep nectar residue from accumulating.
Mealworm feeders sometimes are designed to resemble houses, with clear panels on two sides and openings on the other sides, for birds to easily access the food. A small dish usually rests in the bottom of the feeder, holding the mealworms. Others can work in combination with fruit feeders, or roasted mealworms may be placed on a tray.
A wide variety of other specialty and squirrel proof feeders are also available, if those may better match your habitat or needs. Whatever your feeding interest, there certainly is a feeder for you. Browse through our Bird Feeder department to find the one you need. For more information, be sure to visit the Bird Feeder Preferences page to learn how to bring your favorite birds to your backyard!