One great way to build a better home for wildlife is to set up a bird feeder for our feathered friends. When done right, a feeder can safely add to the natural diet of some of our most threatened species. And watching birds at a feeder is a great way to get to know the birds around you!

 

Window feeder (Photo: David Pitkin)

Window feeder (Photo: David Pitkin)

There are many different types of food and feeders out there, so how do you know what is the best for your home? The best feeders are sturdy enough to withstand the weather, keep seeds dry, keep out predators and squirrels, and are easy to keep clean. Check out the information below on different types of feeders.


Making pine cone feeder (Photo: U.S. Forest Service)

Making pine cone feeder (Photo: U.S. Forest Service)

DIY Bird Feeders

Though there are plenty of bird feeder options you can buy, sometimes it’s more fun to make your own using pine cones, mason jars, tin cans, or plastic bottles!


 

Tray Feeder

Pros

  • Attracts the widest variety of seed-eating birds from juncos to grosbeaks
  • Can be mounted on deck railings, poles, stumps or can be suspended
  • Can offer many different types of seed

Cons

  • No protection from rain, snow and bird droppings encourages mold and bacteria growth so needs to be cleaned every day or two
  • Attracts squirrels, deer and other animals

Hopper Feeder

Pros

  • Attracts a variety of seed-eating birds, such as finches, jays and titmice
  • Can offer many different types of seed
  • Fairly good at keeping seed clean and dry
  • Can be mounted on a pole or suspended

Cons

  • Can be harder to clean than other feeders
  • Attracts squirrels; adding a guard can help

Tube Feeder

Photo: Lee Coursey

 

Pros

  • Different sizes and styles can attract a variety of seed-eating birds
  • Can offer sunflower or safflower seeds or seed mixes
  • Keeps seed clean and dry
  • Fairly squirrel-resistant when suspended

Cons

  • Needs to be cleaned out and have seed replaced every other week to avoid mold growth

 

Thistle Feeder

Pros

  • Attracts goldfinches and other small seed-eating birds
  • Not popular with squirrels

Cons

  • Birds crack open the thistle, eat the seeds and discard the shells, which can pile up under the feeder
  • Thistle, or nyjer, is one of the more expensive birdseeds

 

Suet Feeder

Pros

  • Easy to install and maintain
  • Attracts a variety of insect-eating birds, including woodpeckers, chickadees and nuthatches

Cons

  • Should only be used during cool weather; suet can go rancid in warm weather
  • Can also attract raccoons, squirrels and other animals

 

Hummingbird Feeder

Photo: Leroy Anderson

Pros

  • Attracts nectar-feeding hummingbirds
  • Saucer-style hummingbird feeders are easy to clean

Cons

  • Tube-style hummingbird feeders are harder to clean
  • Sugar water should be replaced every few days to prevent bacteria and mold growth
  • Can attract bees, wasps and ants; use a feeder with built-in insect guards and avoid yellow parts that attract insects

 

Window Feeder

Window feeder (Photo: David Pitkin)

Window feeder (Photo: David Pitkin)

Pros

  • Great for apartments as it takes up little space and needs no yard
  • Offers a close-up look at birds while they feed
  • Safest for preventing window strikes
  • Easy access for cleaning and filling

Cons

  • Should be cleaned and seed replaced every day or so