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8 Bird Feeder Types: Common Varieties Available Today

Last Updated: May 23, 2022

If you notice wild birds flying around your backyard, you have an opportunity to develop a new hobby - bird feeding!

Apart from having bird food...

A feeder also comes in handy. After all, it would be pretty tiring to scatter food on the ground every so often. The question is: "What are the different types of bird feeders?"

Each feeder has its own purpose, and what you buy can determine which birds visit your backyard.

So, what are you waiting for? Read on to find out the answers!

Top 8 Types Of Bird Feeders

1. Fruit/Oriole Feeder Fruit/Oriole Feeder attract a song bird

As you may have already guessed, a fruit feeder offers fruits for wild birds. It's commonly called an "oriole feeder" because orioles do not eat seeds, so they wouldn't visit traditional bird feeders.

This is why most, if not all, fruit feeders are structured according to what orioles like - a bright orange design, skewers for orange halves, and a container or two for grape jelly.

Apart from orioles, grape jelly can also attract finches, woodpeckers, and grosbeaks.

You can even use the jelly container for other fruits, such as apple slices, grapes, and berries, to attract other fruit-eating birds, such as mockingbirds, robins, cardinals, and more.


2. Hopper Feeder Hopper Feeder attract a brown sparrow

If we were asked, "Which bird feeder attracts most birds?" It would probably be the hopper feeder. Its versatility and structure allow you to attract a wide variety of bird species!

As you can see from the image, hopper feeders are much like a house. The structure has a roof to protect seeds from rain, snow, or droppings, while the base has an elevated platform for birds to perch on as they eat.

However…

The main attraction is the chamber in the middle. You fill it up with the bird seed of your choice, which is enough to last a couple of days. Then, the food would slowly dispense from an opening at the bottom of the chamber as birds access and eat them.

You can buy hopper bird feeders as a standalone product, but you may also find designs that combine multiple feeder types, such as suet feeders attached to the sides of a hopper.

The main downside of this bird feeder is that it's an enclosed container, which means that you need to clean it often. If water builds up in the container, or worse, the seeds get soaked too long, it would be dangerous for the birds.

Plus, most hopper feeders are made of wood, which is prone to squirrel attacks. To deter them, you might have to invest in metal bird feeders or a squirrel baffle.

Another thing to keep in mind is that loaded hopper feeders are pretty heavy, so make sure that you install them somewhere sturdy.


3. Suet Feeder Suet Feeder  attracts Downy Woodpecker

First, let's define "suet" for all of our beginners. Suet is the hard fat on the loins or kidneys of cows, cattle, or other animals. It has a high protein and fat content, essential for giving birds energy.

Among the types of feeders, this one appeals to insect-eating birds the most, such as woodpeckers, nuthatches, wrens, and flickers.

Suet is particularly important to them during winter, as insects, their primary source of fats, are less common during this time.

Most of the best suet feeders are designed as a cage to prevent larger bird species from taking the food away. They also come in different shapes and sizes, as suet can also have various forms.

There's also a mesh bag suet feeder, although we recommend buying a cage design instead because birds' toes can get stuck on the mesh bag. If you don't act quickly, you may have dead birds in your backyard!

When buying suet, you have to take note of the climate because it has a low melting point and can go rancid in warm weather, which is why many suet products are only sold during winter.

Also, you might have to deal with squirrels if you buy suet that has nuts and berries mixed in.


4. Nyjer/Thistle Feeder Nyjer/Thistle Feeder attracts Purple Finch

Despite its name, the thistle feeder has no correlation with the thistle plant. It's meant for dispensing nyjer seed, which comes from a totally different plant. For some reason, the terms "nyjer" and "thistle" are interchanged in the birding world.

A nyjer seed finch feeder is similar to a tube feeder, but the small ports only allow nyjer seeds to fit through. On the contrary, nyjer seeds are so tiny that they just come gushing out of other feeder types.

Nyjer feeders are usually made of fine metal or plastic mesh wire, where the birds would cling and extract the seeds. You may also encounter a mesh bag design, which looks like a white sock hanging in your backyard.

This feeder is best if you're trying to attract American Goldfinches, Pine Siskin, juncos, and sparrows. Plus, you don't have to worry about squirrels because they don't like nyjer seeds.


5. Peanut Feeder Peanut Feeder attracts Dark eyed Junco

Do you want to take a guess on what this feeder is for?

A peanut feeder can either have a tube or wreath design. The peanuts, in or out of the shell, are stored inside a wire mesh. However, not every bird can crack open a nut, so it's best to keep them out of the shell.

The holes in the mesh are just large enough for the feeding birds to work and pluck the nuts out.

This is the best kind of bird feeder if you're trying to attract Blue Jays, Tufted Titmice, woodpeckers, bluebirds, and nuthatches.

However, this feeder type can still attract squirrels, although the wiring should keep them from taking too many peanuts.

6. Platform/Tray Feeder Platform/Tray Feeder attracts American Goldfinch

A tray feeder (also called a platform feeder) is as simple as it gets - it's a wooden tray that you hang on a hook or place on a flat surface, such as the ground.

That may seem basic at first, but along with hopper bird feeders, platform bird feeders are versatile in the sense that they can accommodate many bird species.

Since the entire top is exposed, larger bird species, such as Northern Cardinals, or ground feeders, such as Mourning Doves, have plenty of space to move around and enjoy their bird feed.

Plus, if you put a mix of various foods in there, the birds are free to choose what they want to eat, from seeds, bread, nuts, you name it.

However, although a platform feeder's open and welcoming nature is its greatest strength, it's also a weakness.

What we mean is that you may encounter issues with certain birds. Specifically, flocks of crows, grackles, or sparrows may take over the feeder and push out smaller birds.

It's also open to non-bird animals, such as squirrels, chipmunks, deer, and other creatures.

Meanwhile, the exposed food is prone to the elements, so it's best to buy a model that has a reliable drainage system (or better yet, a completely mesh bottom) when it rains. If your area has snow, you can buy one that comes with a roof.


7. Nectar/Hummingbird feeder Nectar/Hummingbird feeder attracts hummingbirds

Among the different types of bird feeders, this one has a sole purpose - to attract hummingbirds, of course!

Hummingbird feeders come in many shapes and sizes, ranging from a large bottle to a small dish!

You may also notice that most designs have a dominant red color. This is because hummingbirds see color, and red is the most attractive to them!

Well, no matter what design you choose, all of them are essentially nectar containers with a small feeding port (orioles and woodpeckers also eat nectar, but the port is too small for them).

However, buying a hummingbird feeder is only one thing - you also have to learn how to make nectar.

Here is a step-by-step procedure:

  1. Mix 1/4 cup of refined white sugar with 1 cup of boiling water. Using refined white sugar is crucial as it mimics natural nectar when dissolved in water.
  2. Once the sugar is completely dissolved, let it cool to room temperature.
  3. Fill up the nectar feeder.
  4. Store the excess nectar in the fridge for up to one week.

Now, here are some important rules to follow in maintaining hummingbirds well-fed and happy:

  • Follow the recipe. Never add anything to the nectar, such as food coloring, honey, or other sweeteners.
  • Replace the nectar in the feeder after 3-5 days, or immediately if mold starts forming.
Never use insecticides when dealing with ants that want to consume the nectar. Use an ant moat instead, although some hummingbird feeders already have one built-in.

8. Tube Feeder Tube Feeder attracts Yellow Orchard Orielo

Tube feeders are what most people think of when feeding birds. As the name suggests, it's a tube that you fill up with food, typically sunflower or safflower seeds.

Depending on the design, there can be multiple ports and perches around the tube to feed many birds simultaneously. Others may also have a built-in tray at the base to catch any spilled seed.

The purpose of the tube feeder is to limit the birds and other creatures that can access the food, unlike the free-for-all nature of tray feeders. This limits the issues of bird bullies hogging all the seeds.

Hence, tube feeders favor smaller birds, such as finches, chickadees, sparrows, and titmice.

When filling up a tube feeder, we recommend using only one seed type. Mixed bird seed comes in different sizes, which may clog the feeding ports. Plus, there's a higher chance of wasting food as birds scatter the seeds to find their favorite.

You also have to clean the tube regularly because it's an enclosed space. Please ensure that the entire structure is dry and throw out leftover seeds when refilling.


Frequently Asked Questions

How do I choose the best types of bird feeders?

Well, the first thing to consider is which birds you're trying to attract. For example, don't buy a seed feeder if you're trying to feed hummingbirds.

Meanwhile, the feeder size depends on the bird population in your area. If you buy a large feeder, but only a few birds visit, the food might go stale after a while, and you'd end up wasting it.

You may also look at other features, such as the drainage system, weather and squirrel protection, or a combination of different bird feeders.

Learn more details in this video:

Which birds are attracted to a specific food?

Apart from the feeder itself, birds are also attracted to specific foods. Here are some of the following so you can choose what to feed:

Sunflower seed Safflower seed Nyjer seed Suet Nectar Peanut Fruit
Cardinals
Chickadees
Doves
Finches
Grosbeaks
Jays
Kinglets
Nuthatches
Orioles
Sparrows
Titmice
Warblers
Woodpeckers
Wrens

Do bird feeders come with decorative features?

Yes!

If you want your bird feeders to be aesthetically pleasing, you can buy a decorative feeder. Just look at these hopper and hummingbird feeders!

Feeder with star design

Feeder with rose designs

However, you have to ensure that the decorations aren't hazardous or blocking the passage of food.

Meanwhile, you can also buy a window feeder if you need to constantly monitor the birds. An example is this platform feeder that has suction cups.

Platform feeder with suction cups

Conclusion

Bird feeding is a fun and fulfilling hobby. Not only are you seeing various birds in action, but you're also helping the ecosystem by keeping them well-fed and happy.

However, selecting the best bird feeder can be confusing, especially for beginners. There are just too many types, designs, and features to choose from!

With that being said, we hope this article helped you choose the best types of bird feeders.

Who knows? Maybe in the future, you can experiment with different bird feeder types and turn your home into the ultimate bird feeding station setup!

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