Types of Bird Feeders

There are many different types of feeders, including hoppers, tube, platform, hummingbird (a nectar feeder), fruit, and others. In general, seed feeders fall into one of three categories: hopper, tube, or platform feeders.

  • Hopper Feeders (also called House Feeders) - Hopper feeders have a platform upon which walls and a roof are built, forming a hopper. The hopper protects seed against the elements. Hopper feeders can be used to attract both small birds such as finches or large birds such as jays. With hopper feeders, be especially careful about regularly cleaning your feeder. Few hopper feeders do a good job of protecting seed from rain, and the seed can become moldy. Most hopper feeders hold a good amount of seed.

  • Tube Feeders - Tube feeders are constructed with a hollow cylinder (often plastic), with multiple feeding ports and perches. Tube feeders generally keep the seed fairly dry. Tube feeders with short perches can be selective to smaller birds. For example, a tube feeder with small perches can accomodate chickadees, but exclude large birds such as jays.

  • Platform Feeders (also called Tray Feeders) - Platform feeders consist of an open tray upon which the feed is placed. These feeders offer little protection against squirrels or the weather. Some tube feeders are equipped to attach a tray feeder to them.

  • Hummingbird Feeders - Hummingbird feeders are nectar feeders and come in several different shapes and sizes. These feeders are enclosed, typically made of glass or plastic, and often have 3 to 5 feeding ports. These ports are often surrounded with red plastic flowers and bee guards. The nectar solution can be made at home, using a ratio of 4 parts water to 1 part white cane sugar. Simply boil the water, stir in the sugar while hot, and allow it to cool before filling the feeder. The feeder should be washed atleast once per week and any remaining nectar discarded.

  • Fruit Feeders - Fruit feeders come in a variety of shapes and sizes. One commonly used fruit is the orange, which may be used to attract orioles and tanagers.

  • Other Feeders - Other feeders include squirrel proof feeders, suet feeders, hand-made models, etc. Squirrel proof feeders are often variations of one of the feeder types listed above and can include a wire mesh protective cage or a special squirrel guard or baffle. Suet feeders often involve a wire mesh cage that holds suet or a suet mixture. These feeders can be very good for woodpeckers and cardinals.

    Be sure to visit the bird feed preferences page to find out how to bring your favorite birds to your backyard!