Bird feeders come in all shapes, styles, designs, colors, and decorations. Are some feeders better than others? Birds aren’t always picky about the feeders they visit, but some feeders are definitely better for birders. What makes a good bird feeder, and how can you choose the best feeder for you?
The Basics of Good Bird Feeders
Whether or not a bird feeder is a good style depends on the birds it is meant to feed. Even the best, most durable mesh sock style feeder is no good at all for feeding hummingbirds. A perchless nectar feeder is all wrong for feeding cardinals.
First and foremost, consider the birds you want to feed, including their overall size, bill shape, preferred foods, and feeding style. Birds that feed in flocks will prefer larger feeders that can accommodate multiple visitors. Birds that cling to vertical surfaces, such as nuthatches, woodpeckers, and creepers, will be more comfortable at mesh or vertical feeders.
See also: Gift Ideas for Bird Lovers
Good Feeders for Birders
In addition to taking birds’ preferences into account when choosing a feeder, it is important to consider different feeder features and options that appeal to you! The best feeder will be one you enjoy and find convenient to use, so consider these features carefully when choosing a good bird feeder.
- Capacity – Larger feeders that can hold more seed, suet, nuts, or nectar can feed more birds at once and will not require refilling as frequently. This can be useful if you have many birds visiting, or if refilling feeders is more challenging or bothersome.
- Weight – Very heavy feeders might break thin tree branches or warp hanging poles. They could also be more difficult to hang, particularly when they are full. A lightweight feeder may be easier to handle, but is also more vulnerable to strong breezes or other disturbances.
- Cleaning – Feeders must be cleaned regularly to keep birds safe from bacteria and disease contamination. A simple feeder will be easier to clean than one with many nooks and crannies that need scrubbing. Some feeders may need to be disassembled to be cleaned properly.
- Refilling – Some feeders are simple to refill, while others require removing latches, lids, or cages to refill them. Is a funnel needed for easy refilling? Can the feeder be refilled while it is still hanging? These considerations can determine how often you prefer to refill the feeder.
- Pests – More wildlife than just birds will be attracted to feeders. If raccoons, mice, rats, deer, squirrels, or even bears are attracted to a bird feeding station, feeders will need to be sturdy and durable to withstand their attention.
- Weather – In areas with long, harsh winters, feeders that are more enclosed to protect seed from snow and ice are a great investment. Areas with frequent high winds will need heavier feeders that won’t sway or tip when blown about.
- Budget – All birders need to be mindful of their budget, not just for feeders, but for the food they will fill those feeders with. A high quality feeder can be a pricey expense, but compare that to the cost of replacing less expensive feeders more frequently to determine if it is a worthwhile investment for your bird feeding budget.
See also: Bird Feeding on a Budget
Bird Feeders to Match Your Style
Once the practicalities of feeding birds have been considered, it can be fun to consider your own personal preferences for choosing a good bird feeder. Feeders are available in all colors and styles. You might match your garden or landscape décor with a feeder that blends into the scenery, or choose one that pops out with an eye-catching burst of color. If you enjoy photographing birds, the photogenic qualities of the feeder must be considered, especially whether it has perches or angles that will provide great views of visiting birds.
Even just choosing a feeder in your favorite color can make you smile and help you enjoy feeding the birds even more. If you enjoy the feeder, you will be more inclined to clean and maintain it properly, keep it refilled, and make the most of every guest who visits.
Choosing a Good Bird Feeder
The characteristics that make the best bird feeder will be different for everyone depending on their personal preferences and individual considerations. Choose your best bird feeder first for the birds and their needs. Then, consider your own enjoyment and the practicalities of use. Position the feeder safely for birds to find and use, fill it with good quality foods, and be patient as they become accustomed to the new feeder. In time, your favorite bird feeder can easily become the birds’ favorite feeder as well, and both you and the birds will enjoy many years of meals to share.