It’s spring break and I’m visiting my family. One thing that I’ve noticed here in my backyard, as well as at almost every other backyard that has bird feeders, is that there are almost always more than one kind of bird feeder present. Now that I’ve learned more about how birds fill different niches, I can understand why different types of birds prefer different bird feeders.
Not a one size fits all
If you think about it, birds don’t just get their food from up in trees. Many birds forage for their food on the ground. Also, birds eat more than just one type of food. For these reasons, it is important to use more than just one type of bird feeder. Using more than one of these six main types of bird feeders will help to attract a variety of bird species as you accommodate different types of birds and their diets: Tray/ platform feeders, hopper/ house feeders, window feeders, tube feeders, thistle/ nyjer feeders, and suet feeders.
Tray/ Platform Feeders
This type of feeder will attract birds that usually feed on the seeds that drop from elevated feeders. Such birds include juncos, doves, jays, blackbirds, sparrows, and towhees. Because of their preference to feeding on the ground, tray feeders that are closer to the ground are usually more effective. Platform feeders are simply tray feeders that have a roof.
Hopper/ House Feeders
House feeders, equipped with a roof and encasing for the seeds, allow good protection against water and bird droppings. While this type of feeder attracts a large variety of feeder birds (finches, jays, cardinals, buntings, grosbeaks, sparrows, chickadees, and titmice), it can bring larger birds like grackles that tend to take up more space. For this reason it may be convenient to use smaller house feeders to give more access to smaller birds.
Window feeders are conveniently attached to the window using suction cups. They are usually made out of plastic but can also make use of a tray. Not only does this provide an up close view of the birds, but it is also safer because it helps prevent bird-window collisions. Window feeders attract finches, sparrows, chickadees, and titmice.
Tube feeders, as seen in the image above, are long and cylindrical. This type of feeder is designed for smaller seed-eating birds that make use of the shorter perches: sparrows, grosbeaks, chickadees, titmice, and finches. However, longer perches can accommodate larger birds (grackles and blue jays) if need be.
Thistle/ Nyjer Feeders
Thistle/ Nyjer feeders are specifically designed to hold these types of seeds. It is made for birds that prefer to cling to trees or other objects while looking for food. These include American Goldfinches, Pine Siskins, and Common Redpolls. Like a tube feeder, it is cylindrical; however, it makes use of a wire mesh which allows it to be the least wasteful feeder of all types.
Suet feeders are made from beef or mutton fat placed in cages. It is a popular choice for woodpeckers, nuthatches, chickadees, titmice, jays, and starlings. It is much easier for larger birds to eat from these suet cages compared to most other feeders. They are usually placed hanging on trees, but can also be placed on other feeders or suspended in the air.
Now for some Fun!
Part of the fun of having bird feeders is being able to make them yourself.
Courtesy of Eco Sapien
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