Garden Birding – Know Your Bird Feeders
When it comes to purchasing the best bird feeder for your garden, it depends a lot on what you’re hoping to attract. If you’re looking to attract nectar feeding birds you’d be placing a different feeder than if you were looking to attract seed eaters. For a variety, you’d want a combination of feeders that cater to various birds that you hope to attract. In this article we’ll run through some of the most best bird feeders for attracting each type of bird to your garden.
Nectar Bird Feeders
Nectar feeders are aimed at birds that feed off the nectar of plants and are most commonly used to attract Hummingbirds to gardens. This feeder doesn’t only cater to Hummingbirds though, and can attract different kinds of nectar eating birds, depending on your location. In Southern Africa, they serve well as Sunbird feeders and are a popular addition to the garden.
These feeders most commonly consist of a central tube which holds sugar water, which is then distributed down into the feeding parts. A common feature is for the feeding locations to resemble flowers, and to have a perch extended off the feeder for the bird to easily access the bird feeder while also ensuring that it doesn’t poop on the feeder.
Since sugar water can spoil quite quickly, this is a feeder that will require a bit more maintenance than most others. You should expect to take it inside and clean/re-fill the feeder quite regularly. Though this will certainly be worth the effort when you find yourself with some beautiful Sunbirds in your own garden. It is recommended that you keep these feeders out of direct sunlight if possible, as the sunlight tends to make the contents go off sooner than it would in a shaded area.
The nectar you use in the feeder can either be made at home, or concentrate can be purchased from birding outlets or online.
Tube Bird Feeders
Tube feeders consist of a vertical cylinder which is generally used in conjunction with seeds. This cylinder/tube will have small openings on the sides along with perches, meaning that they are quite clean and can also generally host several birds at a time. The fact that the seeds are primarily out of reach for other animals means that these feeders are frequented less by squirrels compared to open tray feeders, and some tube feeders even offer extra protection against squirrels.
Some tube feeders do have a tray at the bottom as well, though these obviously then offer less protection from squirrels and are more like open tray feeders. We would recommend using a tube feeder that is sealed at the bottom if your area is prone to squirrels. The issue of seed build up at the bottom of the feeder has been a discussion point for many bird lovers, and some have blocked the feeder at the location of the last feeding point, since seeds that fall below the bottom most feeding ports would remain stagnant and can easily become moldy. Some tube feeders are designed with this is mind however.
These bird feeders generally attract smaller seed eating birds such as Finches, Sparrows, Canaries etc. Though some larger birds do tend to visit from time to time. This is one of my personal favourite feeders and would recommend it to someone looking for the best bird feeder for their garden.
Tray Bird Feeders
Tray feeders (also known as Platform feeders) are the most basic of bird feeders and can consist of any form of tray/platform whereby you can place seeds, fruit etc. These feeders tend to offer the greatest diversity of what it can attract, with the ability to easily lay out the feed of your choice. However, the ease of access comes at a cost, with these feeders being open season for squirrels or other rodents. Elevating a tray feeder can eliminate rats, but squirrels will have no problem getting onto it.
Not only do the tray feeders suffer from ease of access from rodents, but its design also means that the food contents are easily soiled or wet during bad weather. Some models do cater for weather and offer a roof over the seeds, some also consisting of a perch along it, to prevent the food from becoming soiled. Some models incorporate drainage holes to cater for water, but this only really means that when you clean it, you don’t have to remove it from whatever post it may be placed on.
As mentioned these feeders do offer a lot of variety to what you could attract, as you can place the food of your choice. But there are better alternatives out there
Window Bird Feeders
Window feeders are usually smaller feeders with suction cups that allow you to attach the feeder to an outside window. These feeders are often transparent to allow the bird lover to see what birds are feeding, right from the comfort of their living room or bedroom. There is a cost for these amazing views of the birds though, a lot of birds tend to feed inside the actual feeder instead of making use of the ridges on the feeder. This means that the food can spoil quite easily, so one should monitor the condition of the food inside the feeder and clean as necessary.
These particular feeders can differ greatly between products in their quality, and we highly recommend reading some of the reviews on sites such as Amazon to see how others found each particular model, and to make an educated decision.
Suet Bird Feeders
Suet bird feeders are usually comprised of a metal or wooden frame and then a grid of mesh or metal where the seeds or fruit are contained within. This method of feeding is good if you suffer from squirrel problems as the contents are generally out of reach for non-bird animals (particularly the mesh versions). The mesh models are meant for seeds, while the larger framed suet feeders cater towards things like fruit and can generally attract a good variety of birds.
We hope that this article has provided you with some insight into the options available for your bird feeder needs, as well as helping you purchase a highly rated version of the type that you’re interested in.