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24 Different Types of Bird Feeders

A small bird on a green, metal feeder.

More than 50 million Americans are said to be involved in bird feeding or observation at the very least. Selling bird seeds and feeders is a big business that exceeds two billion dollars a year. Henry David Thoreau was the first to report of bird feeding as he wrote about tossing half a bushel of unripe corn which attracted Blue Jays and Black-capped Chickadees on Walden Pond.

Table feeder was introduced in the 19th century while window feeding-trays came about in the early 1900s. In 1910, Hans Berlepsch invented the sophisticated bird bell. Federal biologist Waldo Lee McAtee advocated the use of coconuts or tin cans with holes as bird feeders to minimize food waste.

The first suet feeders also appeared around this time while commercial bird feeders became common only in the 1920s.

Related: Types of Birds Baths | Types of Birdhouses

A. Type

1. Tube

Tall, tube-type bird feeder with a clear, plastic body.

Source: Amazon

Tube bird feeders do a great job of keeping your seed dry, while also allowing you to see exactly how much is left so that you know when you need to refill the feeder. They make it very difficult for a squirrel to eat the bird seed, but they have holes large enough for most wild birds to access it. They generally have small posts at each hole so that a bird can sit and pick out the seeds that they like best. If your tube extends below the bottom holes, then it is a good idea to block this off. Otherwise, the seed at the bottom of the feeder may get old and rot.

2. Suet & Seed Cake

Dark green, vinyl-coated bird feeder.

Source: Home Depot

This type of feeder is specifically designed to hold a suet cake within a wire enclosure so that birds such as chickadees, nuthatches, and woodpeckers can all access the food. They are generally hanging feeders, and they can be suspended from tree branches, a shepherd’s hook, the roof of your porch, or even the carport. Squirrels tend to eat suet when it is in a feeder, so it’s important to put a squirrel guard on your hook or use spicy suet cakes, as they will deter squirrels.

3. Hummingbird

Deep red, glass feeder for hummingbirds.Source: Home Depot

These feeders have been specifically designed for hummingbirds and do not hold the seed in the way that most traditional bird feeders do. Instead, they offer nectar in an enclosed container, and they have small holes through which a hummingbird can stick its beak. One major problem that can occur with a hummingbird feeder is that it will often attract ants. You should buy ant guards that will prevent ants from being able to access the feeder. Otherwise, they will often enter the nectar holes and end up floating in the nectar itself. Make sure to clean your hummingbird feeder on a regular basis to deter the growth of bacteria.

4. Hopper

A bird feeder made of lumber having a green-colored roof and a natural brown foundation.Source: Hayneedle

If you want to be able to put out a large amount of seed all at once, then it is a good idea to invest in a hopper bird feeder. These will usually attract larger birds, such as starlings, sparrows, and cardinals, but squirrels and chipmunks will also come to hopper feeders. One of the problems with this type of feeder is that they do not provide protection from bad weather, and if you allow water to sit in the seeds, they will sprout. Opting for a hopper feeder that has drainage holes will help you combat this problem.

5. Soda Bottle

Clear, soda bottles turned into an efficient bird feeder.

Source: Wayfair

One fun way to set up bird feeders in your backyard, especially while you’re on a budget, is to buy an attachment that turns an empty soda bottle into a bird feeder. This small attachment will screw onto the mouth of the soda bottle so that when the bottle is filled and then turned upside down, the seed will spill out onto a tray. These bird feeders are incredibly easy to fill, and, as long as you choose a clear bottle, you won’t have any problem determining how much seed is left in the feeder. If your soda bottle bird feeder becomes damaged in any way, then they are relatively easy and inexpensive to replace, as long as you have the attachment.

6. Thistle

Black screen, tube-type bird feeder with thistle.

Source: Amazon

Because thistle seeds are incredibly small, if you want to be able to feed your finches this type of seed, then you will need a special bird feeder that will contain the seeds without allowing them to spill. They generally hold the seeds in a type of netting which will allow finches and other birds to reach through the net to pull out pieces of the thistle, while at the same time preventing the seeds from scattering. One benefit of using this type of bird feeder is that squirrels are not fond of thistle and will tend to leave it alone. As a result, you will not have to worry about squirrel proofing your feeder.

7. Tray/Platform

Square, wooden platform as a bird feeder.

Source: Wayfair

A tray feeder is very open and welcoming for most types of birds, but if you do not want to feed the neighborhood squirrels, then a flat tray may not be your best option. Tray feeders do not have covers, so your seed is open to the elements and can become damaged and rot after a lot of rain. Be sure to look for ones that have drainage holes. Because you don’t have to worry about a lid, this type of feeder is very easy to fill, and you will simply dump the seed onto the tray. Generally, tray feeders will either be attached to a pole in the yard or, if you desire a closer look at the birds who visit, they can be screwed onto the railing of a deck.

8. Caged

Dark green, metal, caged bird feeder.

Source: Wayfair

Caged bird feeders are ideal if you want to provide a safe place for your birds to feed without worrying about a squirrel eating all of the seed that you have set out. They generally have bars around the feeder. As a result, the birds can fly in and out to access the seed, but the small holes in the cage prevent squirrels from being able to enter it. While these feeders were originally designed to deter squirrels, they also do a great job of keeping larger birds from eating all of the seed that you set out for songbirds.

B. Orientation

1. Mounted

Mounted, nicely-roofed cedar bird feeder with a smooth finish.

Source: Etsy

Mounted bird feeders are ideal because you never have to worry about them being knocked out of a tree, falling off of the pole, or otherwise being damaged. Depending on your yard and where you want your bird feeder to be, you can generally mount a bird feeder in many places, including along the railing of your porch or on a stump in the yard. This way, you will be able to keep the birds close enough that you can easily see them. It is important that you correctly mount your bird feeder so that it will not blow over in the wind, scatter seed, or get accidentally knocked down by a larger animal. Many mounted bird feeders come with the correct mounting hardware so that you do not have to worry about whether or not you will complete this task correctly.

2. Window

Transparent and clean-looking seed tray for birds. Source: Amazon

If you want to enjoy seeing birds fly right up to your home and watch them feed, then a bird feeder that has suction cups to hang on your window is a great choice. These bird feeders are clear and provide birds a safe place that is covered to sit and eat the seed. Because they suction to your window, you and your entire family will be able to watch birds feeding on the comfort of your home. One thing to consider when buying a window bird feeder is how you will be able to replenish the food, as windows that are higher from the ground can make it very difficult to do so regularly.

3. Freestanding

A freestanding Gazebo bird feeder with a classic finish.

Source: Houzz

A freestanding bird feeder can quickly become a focal point in your yard, as long as you choose an attractive feeder, mount the pole correctly, and make sure to replenish the seed as needed. Because there are so many different types of freestanding feeders, it is easy to find one that will fit into your yard and outdoor living space. You can be sure that it will become an attractive and integrated part of your property. Make sure that if you do opt for a freestanding bird feeder, you can easily access it so that you are able to replace the seed and clean it out. Otherwise, if you avoid this task, you will quickly find that your feeder becomes dirty and does not entice birds.

4. Hanging

A hanging bird feeder made of wood.

Source: Wayfair

Hanging bird feeders are among the most popular types, and they are incredibly easy to find and to use. Because they can be hung from a variety of different items and in a number of locations, it is easy to use these feeders to decorate the space around your home, as well as to increase the likelihood of birds coming to your property. When you choose a hanging bird feeder, it is important that you have a sturdy location in which to hang it so that the birds will feel safe and secure when they are eating. Consider hanging your feeder from a shepherd’s hook in the middle of your yard, a low tree branch, or even a hook on the edge of your roof. Doing so will bring birds as close to you as possible so that you can take pleasure in watching them while they eat.

C. Features

1. Squirrel Proof

Dark, metal bird feeder with a squirrel proof design.

Source: Hayneedle

While you may want to be feeding your neighborhood birds, it is very unlikely that you will want to feed all of the squirrels that will come to your home as soon as they learn that you put out food on a regular basis. It is true that squirrels are generally very fun to watch, but these animals can quickly eat through all of your seed and deter birds from coming to your feeders.

This is unfortunate, because it will not only increase the amount of money that you have to spend on seed each week, but it can also make bird watchers very frustrated when their favorite birds no longer come to the feeder. By choosing a bird feeder that is squirrel proof, you can deter these animals from getting to your seed without causing them any bodily harm or putting them in danger.

2. Easy-Refill Top

A double bird feeder with an easy-to-refill top.

Source: Houzz

It’s a good idea to make it as easy as possible for yourself when it comes time to refill your bird feeders, especially if you have a number of them in your yard. By choosing a feeder that has an easy-refill top, you will not have to worry about pouring seed into small holes or fiddling with latches. These bird feeders make it incredibly easy and quick to replenish the seed, and, as a result, this task does not take a lot of time out of your day or become a chore that you dread.

3. Pole Included

Wooden, pole-mounted bird feeder.

Source: Wayfair

If you are new to the world of bird feeders and just getting one or more set up in your backyard, then it is important that you make it as easy as possible to have your bird feeder set up quickly so that you can start enticing birds to your yard. Opting for a bird feeder that has an included pole makes setup incredibly fast and easy, and you will not have to worry about finding a pole that will work with your feeder. For this reason, rather than having to go to the store to buy a separate pole, once your bird feeder arrives at your home, you will be able to easily install the pole in your yard and attach or hang your feeder from it. Then, you can just wait for the birds to come and feed.

4.With Top

Bird feeder with a wooden frame and a stainless steel top.

Source: Houzz

Not all bird feeders have tops, but when you opt for one that does, you not only protect your birds from rain and other bad weather while they are eating, but you also make it a little bit safer for them to stop in and eat some seed. In addition, tops will cover the seed itself so that it is not ruined by rain on a regular basis as moisture can cause the seed to rot or sprout. Another benefit of buying a bird feeder that has a top is that, depending on how close the top is to the actual tray of seed, it can prevent larger birds from accessing the food. If you have a problem with starlings, mockingbirds, or other large and pushy birds eating all of your songbirds’ food, then a bird feeder with a top can help deter them and ensure that the seed is left behind for smaller birds to enjoy.

5. Handmade

Tall and sturdy, wooden bird feeder, hand-made to perfection.

Source: Etsy 

A handmade bird feeder makes a wonderful gift for anyone who loves birds, and this gift will show them that you have been thinking about them. One benefit of a handmade bird feeder is that you will not have to worry about its quality of construction as long as you trust the source from which you bought it. Unlike store-bought bird feeders that can vary in quality, one that is handmade generally has more attention to detail. This means that all of the screws and nails used to hold the bird feeder together will have been installed correctly, and there will be no weak or loose parts on the bird feeder. Additionally, it will last for a long time.

6. Multiple Tubes

Plastic bird feeder with multiple tubes.

Source: Hayneedle

When you like to feed a lot of birds at once, then you will quickly find out that they can go through seed at a rapid pace. This causes you to spend a lot of time replacing the seed. One of the best ways to avoid spending all of your free time refilling your bird feeders is to opt for one that has multiple tubes to hold the seed. As a result, there will be much more seed available to your birds all at once, and this will prevent you from having to go out on a daily basis to refill them. Another benefit of these feeders is that they generally will have more feeding holes as well, and so your birds will be able to access the food all at the same time. You are much more likely to have a bunch of birds on your feeders when they are all able to eat simultaneously.

7. Fly Through

Classic-style bird feeder made of natural cedar.Source: Hayneedle

Most bird feeders have a solid container that holds the seed, and, while this does a wonderful job of keeping the seed protected, it does not allow the birds fast entry or exit from the bird feeder. By choosing a bird feeder that has an open space where the birds can fly through, you will be sure that birds can quickly and easily leave the feeder if they perceive any danger. This is wonderful because it will allow birds to feel more secure while eating at your feeder as they can quickly depart when they are in danger.

8. Bird Safety

A blue bird feeder, designed to keep the birds safe and sound.

Source: Etsy

One problem that many people who set out bird feeders in their yards find is that, while the birds love having access to food, the feeder does place them at risk of being hunted or caught by predators. You can help make your birds feel significantly safer when you choose a bird feeder that provides them with a safe place to eat. These feeders may take a little bit longer for your birds to get used to, as the bird has to physically enter an enclosed space in order to access the food, but once they are comfortable with your feeder, they will feel that they are much safer. This means that your birds can eat for longer periods of time without being disturbed, and this will allow you to observe them without interruption.

9. Window

Red, house-like bird feeder complete with windows.

Source: Wayfair

A bird feeder that has a window makes it simple for you to see the level of seed left in the feeder, so you will know when you need to buy more at the store or go out and refill it. One problem that many people who set up bird feeders in their backyards will have is the tendency to allow the seed to run out, and this can discourage birds from coming to feed at your feeder. Having a regular supply of seed is important so that birds know they can rely on you to continue to provide them food each time they stop by your home. By keeping an eye on the window in the feeder and filling the feeder before it becomes empty, you will be sure that your birds always have something to eat.

10. Fresh Fruit

A fresh orange fruit attached on an orange-colored bird feeder.Source: Houzz

There are some birds, such as orioles, that love to eat fresh fruit. Rather than simply lining up pieces of fruit on a tray bird feeder, you can purchase one that has spikes on which you can impale your fruit. By doing this, you will know that the fruit will not fall off or be taken by a hungry squirrel. By offering fresh fruit to birds in your yard, it will be much more likely that you will attract a wider variety of birds. These types of bird feeders sometimes have small cups in which you can place jelly or other food items that your birds may enjoy, as well.

11. Decorative

A statue of St. Francis decorated to a bird feeder.

Source: Hayneedle

While everybody has a personal style and a varying opinion as to what is attractive, most people want to improve the appearance and beauty of their backyard or garden with a bird feeder. Buying a bird feeder that is decorative will ensure that your feeder becomes not only a place where your birds congregate but also a gorgeous focal point in your yard. Look for a decorative bird feeder that has ornate or intricate designs, one that is painted and has interesting colors, or one that otherwise inspires you with its shape. When you choose a bird feeder that you find attractive, you are much more likely to fill it in and clean it up on a regular basis.

12. Gazebo

A wooden, traditional Gazebo as a bird feeder.

Source: Houzz

A popular style of the bird feeder is the gazebo. These bird feeders are shaped like a cathedral and have open spaces through which the birds can easily enter and exit. They come in a number of styles, sizes, and materials, and you will easily be able to choose one that fits your personality. They are well loved because of the charm that they add to a backyard or garden.

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