The Beginners Guide to Backyard Birding:
How To Choose the Right Inexpensive Backyard Birdfeeders
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Have you ever wondered what birdfeeders are best for each type of birdseed? With all the different birdseed and feeders on the market today it’s easy to get confused.
In this blog post, we will narrow it down as simply as possible. We will look at each type of birdfeeder and the birdseed that works best in each one. Knowing these simple facts will make your backyard birding more enjoyable and less expensive.
For us, bird lovers, watching our favorite backyard birds flit from tree to feeder and back again, is one of the simple joys in life. However, just knowing which bird likes this food in that particular feeder, can be mind-boggling. Let’s put your mind at ease and simplify things for you right now.
We are going to look at the most common types of feeders and the birdseed most commonly used with them. There is a large variety of bird feeders available on the market, but how do you choose the right one for the birds you want to attract to your yard? Let's answer that question.
I’ve said it before and I will say it again. I don’t consider myself to be an expert. What has worked for me might not work for you. In fact, after moving to the country, I have learned my country birds have different habits and preferences than my city birds. So, it might take some trial and error before you find out what your backyard birds prefer. I will cover the four basic feeder types and have included a link for each one.
Hopper or “House” Feeder
Hopper feeders can be used to present birdseed or black oil sunflower seeds. They attract most feeder birds, including finches, jays, cardinals, buntings, grosbeaks, sparrows, chickadees, nuthatches, and titmice.
Protects the seed from the weather
Holds enough seed to last a couple of days or longer
Birds are attracted to them
Protects against bird droppings
If the seed in the hopper gets wet, bacteria and fungus can grow, requiring you to clean it
Not easy to clean
My favorite. Tube feeders can be used for bird seeds, black oil sunflower seeds, and thistle or Nyjer seeds. Tube feeders attract many small birds such as finches, goldfinch, pine siskin, chickadees, wrens, tufted titmouse, sparrows, nuthatches, cardinals, woodpeckers, and warblers.
The tubes keep the seed mostly clean and dry
Can be used with a wide variety of seeds
Easy to clean
They allow “clinging” birds to feed in a natural position
Larger birds, like jays and grackles, don’t like them
One warning regarding tube feeders. Some tube feeders allow seeds to fall below the lowest openings. These seeds can't be reached by the birds and will spoil. Bacteria and mold will spread from these seeds upward and infect the seed the birds can reach. This increases the potential for disease. Not good! So, I recommend you make a point of removing all unused seeds every time you refill the feeder.
Links: I use all 3 of these tube feeders.
Tray or Platform feeder
Tray or platform feeders attract the widest variety of seed-eating birds. The best tray feeders have a screen, rather than solid bottom to promote complete drainage. At the very least, tray feeders should have several drainage holes. For best results, offer only enough seed in the tray for birds to finish every day or two, and always shake out the bottom every time you add new seeds.
Tray feeders are likely to attract ground-feeding birds such as juncos, doves, blackbirds, finches, jays, cardinals, buntings, grosbeaks, sparrows, chickadees, nuthatches, and titmice.
The simple design allows for birds of any size and bill shape, unlike other bird feeders
Platform/tray feeders hold any kind of food, including birdseed, fruit, peanuts, mealworms, and any other item you can think of
Easy to maintain and clean up
Easy to make.
Tray feeders offer no protection against the weather
Without drainage, seeds will get wet, and that will allow fungal and bacterial growth
Bird droppings can quickly soil the seed in tray feeders
Must be cleaned frequently
The great thing about suet is that you don’t have to have a feeder for it. Suet can be mashed into a tree's bark, placed in a tray feeder, or any other way you can think of. The most common method though is in a suet cage. I get the best results with suet during the winter months. Suet attracts a variety of woodpeckers, nuthatches, chickadees, titmice, warblers, finches, and sparrows.
Easy to use
Suet can quickly go bad in warm weather
Here are the links to the seasonal birdfeeders I use.
Over the years, I’ve learned an array of feeders and bird seed equals a more diverse bird population. Think of it as a buffet for birds!
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Until next time, keep the sun behind you and the birds in view.