In case you missed the article I wrote on how to attract birds to your landscape, it can be found here.
You may have done everything I mentioned in the article, but birds may not be coming to your feeders as fast as you'd like. All is not lost. If you've never had birds in your yard, it will take them a little while to realize you are providing food for them. If you began feeding the birds in the summer or fall, know that it is more difficult to attract birds at this time as there are more natural food sources for them. I feed my birds all year round, but it's especially important in the winter and spring months as food supplies are scare.
This three part series will explore the different types of feeders, the type of seed you can offer and feeder placement and maintenance as well as how to attract birds faster and a few penny pincher tips.
Common Types of Feeders
There are four main types of feeders: platform, hopper, tube, and suet feeders. And depending on the type of bird, some feeders are preferred by some birds more than others. I'll discus specialty feeders at the end of the article. An open hanging platform feeder like the one to the right is very popular because birds can look down into it while they are flying over and plainly see there is food in the feeder. It's also popular for birds that like to feed on the ground, such as with cardinals and mourning doves.
We currently sell hanging platform feeders in our Etsy shop and can do custom orders if you so desire.
Penny Pincher Tip: You can view our free plans on how to make one like this here.
Once the birds have gotten used to the open feeder, you can replace it with a covered one if wet seed is a problem. Generally, I only fill enough seed for one day and if it's raining, I don't fill it. There is good drainage in this type of feeder, so spoilage is not usually a problem unless you overfill it.
A hopper feeder is probably the most purchased feeder, but I think it's probably the second favorite for birds when compared to the platform feeder. Seed is usually placed in a bin and comes out the bottom. There can be a perch on one side or both.
If you have a lot of squirrels eating up your birdseed, you can purchase a squirrel proof hopper feeder that will shut the feeding ports whenever a heavy animal lands on the perch.
The squirrel proof feeders below are one of my favorites for keeping bigger critters out of the seed. I have one very similar to the one on the far right. It's metal, which means the squirrels can't chew it and it will last a long time out in the elements all year long.
The perch is large enough for larger birds to use like cardinals and blue jays and yet the smaller birds like it also. As you can see the squirrel proof feeders come in many styles and sizes.
Tube feeders are a favorite of finches and other small song birds. You can fill them with any kind of seed, but thistle (nyjer) seed is a favorite of finches and dispenses perfectly in these types of feeders.
One big advantage to these feeders is that big bully birds like grackles and crows can't sit on the tiny perches to eat the seed. A disadvantage is that it also makes it difficult for cardinals and blue jays to partake in the seed.
Tube feeders can range from the very simple to the very elaborate. I'd recommend going with one that was made from metal and glass as the squirrels will not be able to eat through it. Metal and glass are also easier to clean and sterilize and will last for many years.
I'd also recommend getting one with a cover on it so that the seed is better protected from rain and snow.
Suet feeders are a favorite of woodpeckers, nuthatches and chickadees, but depending on what you put inside of it will also determine what birds will eat from it. Bluebirds have been known to eat suet that contains fruit for example.
Suet feeders can be as simple as a hanging metal basket or homemade with wood and wire mesh.
You can purchase seed cakes in the store containing insects for those insect eating birds or some containing fruit to attract fruit eating birds. You can also make your own suet. I've shared some of my favorite recipes here.
I've found that the woodpeckers really prefer the suet feeders found below and that the small birds like chickadees and nuthatches are fine with the plain basket type that is pictured above left.
Suet feeders also can come in the form of a log feeder where you can buy suet logs ready to insert into these feeders or make the mixture yourself from scratch. I use the same recipes as for my suet cakes, which can be found here.
I generally only put these out in the winter as homemade suet mixtures should be kept cool to prevent going rancid.