Many Americans absolutely love birds, which is why bird feeders are so popular. While having birds as pets is on the decline, people spend a lot of time and money every year, all over the country, observing them in the wild. With a bird feeder, you can do so right from your own home.
Birds are fascinating, and many remarkably intelligent. Crows, for instance, understand that passing cars are capable of cracking open nuts and shells for them. Seagulls understand how to time runs through automatic doors into grocery stores to quickly snatch food before making a mad dash. The below guide was designed to help educate bird lovers on bird feeders currently on the U.S. market and how to get the one best suited to them.
- 1 Key Facts
- 2 Ranking: The best bird feeders on the U.S. market
- 3 Shopping Guide: Everything you should know about bird feeders
- 3.1 What are bird feeders exactly?
- 3.2 How is the ideal bird feeder?
- 3.3 What types of bird feeders are available out there?
- 3.4 When should I place food in bird feeders for wild species?
- 3.5 Where should I place my bird feeder?
- 3.6 Why opt for a bird feeder with a roof?
- 3.7 What food should I use for wild birds?
- 3.8 What kind of birds generally use bird feeders?
- 3.9 How should I clean my bird feeder?
- 3.10 Do outdoor bird feeders require special care?
- 4 Shopping Criteria
- 5 Summary
- A bird feeder is an absolute must if you love birds.
- In most places in the U.S., you are allowed to legally feed wild birds. However, you need to make sure you are feeding them the right food. Additionally, if you put the right food out, more birds will show up.
- There are key aspects to consider when buying a bird feeder: it must be easy to clean and should offer a support for the animal to sit and eat in peace.
- For outdoor feeders, the durability of a particular model is going to be very important.
Ranking: The best bird feeders on the U.S. market
It has become quite common to see people giving food to local birds during periods of scarcity, which are mainly during the winter months. There are a tremendous number of different feeders on the U.S. market.
Whether you are trying to feed birds in the wild, or in captivity, there are feeders out there designed with your needs in mind. In the below section be provide a list of 5 of the top models on the U.S. market, as well as a breakdown of their most important features.
No. 1: Perky-Pet Copper Panorama Bird Feeder
Perky-Pet is one of the most popular manufacturer of bird feeders out there and their Copper Panorama Bird Feeder is a great tray-style feeder that provides a 360 perch that allows birds to feed from every angle. The “sure-lock” cap is durable and designed to keep pesky squirrels away from the bird food. It holds up to two pounds of seeds, but your refill rate will depend on how many avian visitors you get. This is a simple, tried-and-true design that dispenses seed efficiently and is sure to attract your local birds.
Another great feature of this feeder is the antique copper finish, which allows you to place this feeder directly in the path of rain and snow without worrying about rust. The circular perching post is nice because it provides ample room to several birds at the same time, so you can enjoy fantastic social behavior. The built-in drain holes are another nice add-on because they mitigate against pooling water and, therefore, seed spoilage.
No. 2: Brome – Squirrel Buster Bird Feeder
Brome’s Squirrel Buster Bird Feeder is designed to automatically seal off food when it senses the weight of an adult squirrel. Anyone who has tried to feed backyard birds in the past knows just how persistent hungry squirrels can be, and this feeder is great at foiling their attempts to steal food. After a while, most local squirrels will likely realize that it is futile trying to access the bird food and simply move on. The hanger also gives you 18 inches of clearance on all sides, making it hard for squirrels to even reach the feeder in the first place.
There are no tools necessary to fully assemble this great bird feeder. Furthermore, Brome’s patented seed ventilation mechanism keeps your bird food sufficiently aired out, limiting the amount of water and moisture that stays in and causes mold. Your seed will stay fresher and more appetizing longer, thus attracting more great wild bird traffic to the feeder. This feeder is also weigh adjustable, meaning you can set specific weights corresponding to the birds you want to attract to the feeder. Any birds over or under the weight threshold will be unable to access the food.
No. 3: Nature Anywhere – Window Bird Feeder House
Nature Anywhere’s Window Bird Feeder House is great for both bird and cat lovers. With this bird feeder you get a completely crystal clear, unobstructed view of your little backyard friends every time they visit for a feed. If you have an indoor cat, you can place this feeder on a window and provide him or her hours of stimulation (while ensuring birds are safe). This is a suction style bird feeder that fits right onto any sufficiently large window around your home. The anti-squirrel benefits of suction feeders are quite obvious, as it is highly unlikely that a squirrel is going to be able to successfully climb a window.
This product comes with Nature Anywhere’s lifetime warranty. If at some point you decide this is just not the product you thought it was, or it is not right for you, you will get a full refund or replacement product. The air circulation features is another important aspect of this feeder, as it makes sure your bird food stays fresh for as long as possible. The sliding feeding tray is easy to put in and remove, so making sure the feeder stays clean for local birds is really simple.
No. 4: Droll Yankees – Yankee Flipper Squirrel-Proof Bird Feeder
Droll Yankees’ Yankee Flipper Squirrel-Proof Bird Feeder is an extra large tube-style bird feeder capable of holding up to five pounds of food. It has four different seed ports, making this a great feeder for those who have a high volume of bird traffic in their backyard. This feeder is great because its internal baffle makes sure every port receives an equal amount of seed, meaning birds will confidently go to whichever one is available. Perhaps the best feature of this feeder, in addition to its large capacity, is its anti-squirrel spinning perch. The perch is connected to a motor which spins it in circles when it senses the weight of an adult squirrel.
The UV-stabilized poly tube and powder-coated metal base make this one robust feeder that will stand the test of time. In order for the anti-squirrel spinning mechanism to work, the need a battery (which is included). You also get an AC/DC adapter. When Droll Yankees says this is squirrel proof, they mean it. They are so confident in this that you get a life time warranty against squirrel damage, in the unlikely even that happens. This is a great American product made right here in the USA for American bird lovers all over the country.
No. 5: Gray Bunny – Classic Metal Tube Feeder
Gray Bunny’s Classic Metal Tube Feeder is actually a two-for-one deal when you buy this product, as they include two premium extra large tube-style feeders. This is a great buy for people who want to have a feeder in different places around their home. This is a well-built, chew-proof feeder designed to stand up to even the most tenacious squirrels. Each feeder comes with four ports, so you could potentially have 8 birds using your feeders simultaneously. The ports are well-spaced so that birds can feed comfortably and without pressure side by side.
The clear tubing always tells you how low you are running on seeds, and the well-protected, enclosed seed housing makes sure your bird food is protected from the elements and safe to eat for birds. The contoured base also ensures that your food is distributed towards the outer walls and does not pile up in the middle of the feeder where birds can’t reach it. You get your money back anytime you want with this product, and for the price, it is a great deal that will undoubtedly provide you with years of enjoyment and entertainment.
Shopping Guide: Everything you should know about bird feeders
You don’t need a farm out in the country to watch birds. A window with a view to the outside world is all that is required. Setting up a bird feeder lets you help birds when times are tough for them, and will quickly make your yard a go to spot for bird activity. In the below sections we lay out some of the most common consumer questions to help alleviate any concerns you might have before making a purchase.
What are bird feeders exactly?
Bird feeders come in an array of sizes and shapes, and can be meant for either captive or wild bird feeding. Outdoor feeders are typically filled with grain and seeds, giving birds access to food when foraging is at is most difficult.
Backyard bird feeders are common features in most Western countries, and are incredibly popular all over the U.S. It is important to ensure bird feeders are always kept out of the reach of cats, which prey on wild birds. They should also be placed in areas that are inaccessibly to squirrels, raccoons, and other rodents.
How is the ideal bird feeder?
The ideal bird feeder has to be tough enough to weather the harsh winter months in many part of the country (especially the Northeast). It should also be designed in such a way that seed is kept dry and unspoiled for the birds. Finally, you will want something that is easy to install, take apart, and clean.
What types of bird feeders are available out there?
Physical and online shops offer a wide range of bird feeders, both for captive and wild birds alike. Below we will take a look at some of the most common models in the U.S. They are broken down into how and where you place them, material, shape, and design features:
|Type of bird feeder||Features|
|Hanging feeders||Tray/platform feeders are the most typical models, and they come with holes on the bottom to avoid water collecting. People like to hang these on trees, on posts, on walls, or from windows. Many have roofs so protect animals from rain and flying predators.|
|Tube feeders||As is evident from their name, they are tubular and are constructed of different materials, as well as come in different sizes.|
|Wall feeders||They are supported by walls and are usually found in gardens, or fixed to terrace walls and balconies.|
|Feeder with suction cups||These models are specifically designed to be stuck on windows.|
|Hopper feeder||This device disperses seed as birds feed, giving out food via a gravity drop. They are also called automatic feeders.|
|Suet feeder||Birds particularly enjoy both suet and tallow. Suet feeders feature a vertical netting through which birds can peck about.|
When should I place food in bird feeders for wild species?
The best time to put out a bird feeder is when it is cold/wet out. This is usually the case during the winter months, depending where in the country you are located. During the more abundant spring and summer months it is generally advised not to feed wild birds. This is for two reasons.
The first is that many bird’s change their diets during this period, feeding more on insects. Secondly, feeding birds when there is already an abundance of food around for them can create unhealthy dependencies on you. This is especially the case with fledgling birds that are trying to learn to feed themselves.
Where should I place my bird feeder?
One of the most important tips for placement is to keep the feeder away from predators. Cats are the main culprit here. Always make sure the feeder is not accessible via any adjacent plant, tree, or structure. If you love watching your local birds, below are some tips:
- View: You want an unobstructed view of your feeder, so ensure it is placed in a spot that can be easily observed.
- Protected area: Ideally it should be in an area that provides birds with some form of shelter during hard weather. If you live in the rainy Pacific Northwest, for instance, find a spot in your yard that provides some shelter for birds.
- Ease of use: Always put your bird feeder in a spot that you can reach easily to fill it and take it down when need be. You shouldn’t need a ladder to access your feeder in most cases.
- Attractive design: It’s a good idea to opt for colors that are easily seen by birds. You can also put potted flowers and other bright objects next to your bird feeder.
- Appealing food: Make sure you know what the natural diets are of the birds you want to attract. Many of the birds you see around your area will eat similar, and sometimes vastly different foods.
- Birdbaths and perches: If you want wild birds to be comfortable on your feeder and to linger around, add perches and plenty of water for them to enjoy.
- Food levels: You likely won’t always see your local birds feeding (and that is by design). Even if you don’t think your feeder is being used, always check your seed levels to ensure there is enough out there.
Why opt for a bird feeder with a roof?
It is not really a big deal if a feeder comes with a roof or not. With that in mind, however, wild bids will appreciate it. They will appreciate the protection from the rain and snow, and they will enjoy the added cover from potential predators over head.
What food should I use for wild birds?
The best thing to do is to provide high energy (high calorie) foods for birds during the winter months. Things like peanuts and black seeds have high fat content in them. Birds also like suet and tallow cakes as fat sources. These can be left out all year round. Below are some recommended food sources:
- Seed blend: The best ones include sunflower, ground corn and peanut.
- Sunflower seeds: Don’t get roasted/salted seeds.
- Dried fruits: Crushed almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts and corn – unroasted and unsalted.
- Seeds: Smaller seeds like oats, millet, and thistle
- Fruits: Either dried or fresh
- Bread: Made with standard vegetable oil or vegetable oil mixed with seeds, berries or insects.
What kind of birds generally use bird feeders?
While you won’t attract every species of bird in your area, you are likely to get a pretty long list of usual suspects. Granivorous sparrows are a staple of most feeders across the country. Birds will always make sure the coast is clear before approaching a feeder, so it might take local avians a while to decide it’s safe to feed at your bird feeder. Here is a list of the most common species that you may observe in your backyard in the U.S.:
- Rose-breasted Grosebeak (Northeast)
- Indigo Bunting (Northeast)
- Black-capped Chickadee (Northeast)
- Tufted Titmouse (Northeast)
- White-breasted Nuthatch (Northeast)
- Red-breasted Nuthatch (Northeast)
- Hermit Thrush (Northwest)
- Anna’s Hummingbird (Northwest)
- Bewick’s Wren( Northwest)
- Bushtits (Northwest)
- Cedar Waxwing (Northwest)
- Chestnut-black Chickadee (Northwest)
How should I clean my bird feeder?
Feeding birds responsibly means making sure the bird feeder is kept clean. This is because birds are known disease transmitters. You should probably give it a thorough cleaning 1-2 times per month. If you have an open-air bird feeder it is best to wait until the end of the winter to clean it thoroughly. Below are some easy to follow maintenance and cleaning tips:
- Equipment: Wear rubber gloves for cleaning to avoid harmful pathogens. It’s a good idea to keep a hand brush around – something you can get easily and cheaply at most pet stores (either online or brick and mortar). You can save money by just recycling an old toothbrush.
- Detachable parts: Take it apart as much as possible to get into all the nooks and crannies.
- Exterior: Go over the exterior feeder to get any caked on seeds and bird feces off.
- Products: You can use either commercial cleaning products or create your own solution: nine parts hot water, one part chlorine. A mild dishwashing soap also does the trick.
- Thorough cleaning: Make sure to get rid of any feces and residues, both inside and outside the feeder.
- Rinsing and drying: Once you’ve gotten rid of the organic waste and debris, rinse well and dry it out before refilling and hanging.
Do outdoor bird feeders require special care?
Now that you know how important it is to keep your bird feeder clean and disease free, you are ready to be a responsible wild bird feeder. It is important to keep in mind that if you live in areas of the U.S. that receive heavy snowfall, you should clean your feeder thoroughly during the thaw, and this is when bacteria tend to mix with water and food, which could lead to an outbreak.
You also need to make sure that food waste and/or excrement is not contaminating the feeder. As previously mentioned, 1-2 times per month is usually adequate for cleaning a feeder, but if you have a high volume of visitors, you might need to increase the rate.
You might think that getting a bird feeder is an easy task, but there are so many models and types available on the market that it can prove to be a real challenge. There are, however, some very important shopping criteria to keep in mind if you want to make a smart purchase. In the below section we have laid out some of them to help you on your way:
- Captive or wild birds
- Location of the bird feeder
- Ease of use
Captive or wild birds
First and foremost, it is essential you know whether the feeder is meant for captive or wild birds. If you want something for a cage or aviary, you are going to need to make sure it fits.
Location of the bird feeder
As you’ve discovered during our article, you won’t need the same type of feeder for your house or apartment as for a terrace or garden. As previously mentioned, outdoor models are either hanging, wall-mounted, or suction-style. Always make sure your feeder is out of reach of cats and not tempting to squirrels.
Ease of use
You want a feeder that is easy to install, disassemble, and clean. It should also be simple to refill. You are going to want something that is comfortable for the birds too, which means ample space for feeding and perches.
Perching and clinging birds require perches to grasp onto in order to feed. Many, if not most of the birds that will be using your feeder are these kinds of birds, so keep the number and style of feeding areas in mind.
As previously shown, there are a wide range of bird feeder designs out there. Some are made for gardens and terraces, while others are suctioned to windows. The comfort of your birds is always the most important deciding factor.
The manufacturing materials of your bird feeder are naturally a fundamental criterion. Always go for something weather-resistant and durable. If you are using a wooden feeder, it should be treated to keep if protected from humidity and water. Always go for quality over price.
This has already been well examined, but it is so important we decided to mention it one last time. You need a feeder that is easy to clean, because keeping it clean is non-negotiable. Models that have detachable parts are the best. There are feeders that are easier to clean than others, so always have that in mind.
A bird feeder is necessary if you want to be able to effectively observe wild birds in your yard. Larger models with ample space for feeding and good support will attract more animals. Thanks to the internet and online shopping, you can get the bird feeder that is right for you with very little effort.
Bird feeders are affordable, and differ in terms of their materials, design, and how easy they are to clean. This importance of this last aspect, again, cannot be overstated. A clean bird feeder with dry, appropriate food is what will get you the most entertainment out of your feeder.
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(Source of featured image: Mikhailo Kazaryk: 72221738/ 123rf.com)