Which bird feeder is best?

The right bird feeder can transform a simple outdoor space into a lively meeting spot for winged neighbors. Feeders welcome all kinds of birds depending on the shape, location and seeds you offer. A feeder can also help support the health of your garden or outdoor space. 

This Nature Anywhere Window Bird Feeder is a top pick for its size, convenience and transparent construction.

What to know before you buy a bird feeder

The purpose of a bird feeder 

Bird feeders house seeds, nuts and grains to feed a variety of birds. Depending on where you live, food might be scarce during certain times of the year, and the feeder can provide much-needed sustenance.

The presence of birds can also benefit your garden and outdoor green space. Birds act as pest control, feeding on worms, insects, slugs and snails. They may also help pollinate flowers near and far.

Lastly, feeders provide an easy way to view and learn more about birds, especially for curious children.

Seeds

The type of seed used in a feeder influences the type of bird that’s attracted.

  • Black oil sunflower seeds welcome many birds, including grackles, cardinals, jays, finches and woodpeckers.
  • Striped sunflower seeds attract cardinals, blue jays and woodpeckers.
  • Peanuts invite crows, chickadees, wrens, jays and woodpeckers.
  • Nyjer seeds, which are small and thin, attract tinier birds like goldfinches and common redpolls.
  • Cracked and shelled corn invite doves, pheasants, crows, sparrows and quail.
  • Safflower seeds notably welcome cardinals, but also attract some sparrows, grosbeaks and doves.
  • Millet welcomes quails, cardinals, sparrows and doves, as well as cowbirds and blackbirds.
  • Currants and raisins attract bluebirds, mockingbirds and robins.
  • Oranges bring tanagers and orioles.

Height

Where you position your feeder influences what types of birds come around. Sparrows, for example, enjoy their meals at ground level, while cardinals and finches dine around shrub height. Chickadees and woodpeckers, meanwhile, feed in the trees.

What to look for in a quality bird feeder

Types

  • Hanging feeders may be hung from a porch roof or tree branch. They are typically long, vertically tubes with holes and perches located throughout to welcome birds.
  • Hopper feeders resemble small houses, with a roof and a platform. These may be suspended, but they can also be affixed to a wall or flat vertical surface.
  • Window feeders affix to windows using suction cups for up-close viewing of birds. These are made of plastic to allow clear viewing.

Material

Wooden feeders offer a rustic, natural look. However, a quality wooden feeder needs to be properly sealed so it won’t break down during rain.

Plastic is common, as it’s cheap and light, but it lacks durability. Metal feeders  are longer-lasting, but like wooden ones, they need to be properly treated to avoid breaking down during inclement weather.

Color

Brightly colored feeders may attract birds interested in fruits and berries. However, more muted feeders welcome birds that don’t want extra attention. So when you are shopping for a feeder, don’t choose the color you want, but the one that attracts the birds you’re interested in viewing.

Design

Bird feeders have varying capacities and may be designed for a certain type of seed. Some only feature small openings for birds, which means they are suited for small seeds. However, more elaborate feeders may feature two divided compartments so you can provide seeds of different sizes on each side.

Note where the birds will perch and feed as well: more room to feed means more birds can dine simultaneously.

How much you can expect to spend on a bird feeder

Most feeders cost $20-$35. The price will increase alongside size.

Bird feeder FAQ

How do I prevent unwanted critters from using the bird feeder?

A.  Squirrels can quickly consume all the food, disrupt feeding birds and even break the feeder. Some feeders are designed to prevent squirrels from getting to the seeds, with small openings that only allow for birds. Another way to keep squirrels away is to set up a squirrel feeder for their exclusive use, far from the bird feeder.

Be mindful of other animals in your area, too. Raccoons and even bears may be drawn to peanuts, for example.

How do I best maintain my bird feeder?

A. Feeders should be fully cleaned at least twice a year, though more so if summers are especially humid. That’s because uneaten seeds can eventually grow mold and become toxic to birds. Most feeders can be washed with dish detergent and rinsed thoroughly. Soaking in non-chlorine bleach can also help disinfect the feeder.

Seed should be stored in a secure metal container, away from heat and moisture and where other animals cannot get into it.

What’s the best bird feeder to buy?

Top bird feeder

Nature Anywhere Window Bird Feeder

Nature Anywhere Window Bird Feeder

What you need to know: This attractive window feeder welcomes numerous birds for close, personal home viewing.

What you’ll love: This clear plastic feeder has a tray with two compartments for different seeds. The platform is removable for easy refilling and washing. High-quality suction cups keep the feeder attached.

What you should consider: Due to the plastic design, it requires frequent cleaning and removal during inclement weather.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top bird feeder for the money

First Nature Hummingbird Feeder

First Nature Hummingbird Feeder

What you need to know: This simple, effective hanging feeder comes at a low price and welcomes hummingbirds to your home.

What you’ll love: Though relatively small, the design is aimed at petite hummingbirds, offering 10 feeding ports and a 32-ounce capacity. The base is easy to remove and fill; the design resists spills and leaks.

What you should consider: This feeder does not attract other birds.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

Pesky-Pet Panorama Bird Feeder

Pesky-Pet Panorama Bird Feeder

What you need to know: Easy to fill and clean, this basic feeder attracts a variety of smaller birds for your viewing pleasure.

What you’ll love: A securely locking lid prevents squirrels from getting to seeds while the large opening allows easy refilling. This hanging feeder has a  capacity of nearly 2 pounds and features drainage holes to avoid pooling water. 

What you should consider: Feeding openings only let small seeds be enjoyed.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

 

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Anthony Marcusa writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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