The 10 Best Bird Feeders
This wiki has been updated 26 times since it was first published in June of 2015. Not only do bird feeders serve as an easy food source for our feathered friends, but they also provide hours of entertainment and relaxation for anyone who likes to watch from the patio or through a window. They’re sold in various designs that include long tubes and wide platforms, and many incorporate creative features that will outwit even the cleverest of pesky squirrels. When users buy our independently chosen editorial selections, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
March 25, 2021:
Without any staggering new developments in bird-feeder innovation in the last little while, and thanks to the last editor for this list, who did a nice job of putting together a comprehensive list of feeders that included options suitable to a wide variety of circumstances, we managed to breeze through this update without making any significant changes to speak of.
March 10, 2020:
Today we added in two colorful models made by artisans. The Muse Garden Hummingbird comes in your choice of three vibrant color combinations, and its bottle is made of hand-blown glass, making each one a one-of-a-kind piece. The base features a series of perches and red flower-shaped feeding ports, and it’s easy to detach for cleaning and filling purposes. Included is a recipe for a homemade nectar that you can make on the stovetop.
For another glass design that features a solar panel to light it up at night, look to the Cedar Home Solar, which can illuminate for up to eight hours at sundown. You can choose from among hand-painted designs of butterflies or dragonflies. It boasts a durable, waterproof build and is backed by a one-year warranty.
For more hummingbird feeding options, our list also features the Aspects 367 Hummzinger Ultra, which features a simple plastic construction that’s easy to take apart for cleaning or adding more nectar. One caveat is that it needs to be filled up all the way for the birds to be able to reach the syrup. For more options, check out our separate list dedicated to best hummingbird feeders. If you're determined to keep the squirrels away, you can hardly go wrong with either the Brome 1057 Standard or the Brome 1024 Squirrel Buster, which are designed to close up under the weight of creatures heavier than birds.
We removed the Gardman Tray from our list because we were concerned about multiple reports of birds’ wings becoming stuck in its ornamental scrollwork. In addition, we removed the H Potter Umbrella 537, which is unavailable at this time.
Whichever feeder you choose, be sure to keep it clean and in good repair for the safety of the birds that come to rely upon it. Regular maintenance and refilling is important.
EcoTough Tail Prop Suet Feeder Available from Wild Birds Unlimited, this well-designed feeder is made with post-consumer recycled milk jugs. It features a paddle that simulates a tree trunk and offers birds like woodpeckers a place to prop their tail while they feed. It’s designed to hold a suet cake, which typically contains a combination of fats, seeds, and flakes to keep birds well nourished in cold weather months. Unlike wood, it won’t warp, fade, rot, or crack, and it includes a lifetime money-back guarantee. wbu.com
Architectural Peanut Bird Feeder This solid-copper, hand-crafted feeder is great for providing your feathered friends with shelled peanuts, fruit, and suet balls, as well as nesting material in the spring. It entices the likes of chickadees, woodpeckers, nuthatches, and titmice. Since it’s constructed from copper, it will weather over time to a handsome patina, or you can choose to polish it to keep the copper finish intact. It’s easy to refill when you slide out the bottom compartment. Birds can choose to cling to the netting or rest on the shelf. It’s lightweight at just a pound in weight, and is made in the United States. thebirdhousechick.com
Choosing The Perfect Bird Feeder
And of course not all hanging feeders will work for all hanging locations.
Bird feeders are an affordable and easy way to bring both beauty and excitement to your yard. Within a few days of installation, feathered friends will flock to your yard to feed upon the food you have provided. With a bit of research and the modest dedication required to keep your feeder regularly filled with seed, a bird feeder transforms your property into a veritable oasis for wild birds -- you can attract even more avian animals with the addition of a bird bath.
Choosing the right bird feeder has a direct impact on the type and the volume of birds you will attract, so take a few minutes to consider which option is right for you in terms of aesthetic preference, local bird species, the climate and weather patterns of your area, and the likely physical placement of your prospective new feeder.
First and foremost, you have to decide whether your bird feeder is intended to serve primarily as a mechanism for feeding wild animals, or if its primary purpose is for decorating your yard. There is no wrong or right approach: even bird feeders that are largely ornamental will still offer birds food they will greet enthusiastically and which can help them survive the late autumn and winter months when food sources grow scarce. And larger capacity, multiple port options will still offer extra beauty to your yard in the form of all the birds attracted to the property, if not through the actual aesthetics of design.
Deciding where you want to place a bird feeder will also have a direct impact on your choice of which feeder best serves yours needs. If you want to hang one -- whether from a tree branch, from a shepherd's hook, or from under a patio or gazebo -- that of course eliminates many types of feeders designed to mount flush with a window or to rest on a flat surface. And of course not all hanging feeders will work for all hanging locations.
While most hanging varieties use a single cord, for example, some are supported by twin wires and thus must be hung from larger overhead areas. And if you intend to hang a bird feeder anywhere near your windows, you have to be sure the feeder is not so large and bulky that it might crack the windows if blown hard enough by gusts of wind.
If you do want to mount a feeder that sits flush against a window, make sure that you are not mounting it in easy reach of squirrels, rats, or other critters not intended to eat that bird food. Small mammals are notorious for finding ways to eat bird seed, and their presence can mean more than merely scared off birds, it can also mean damage to your home and a property soiled by animal waste. It's better to not even hang a bird feeder at all than to hang one in the wrong place and end up needing pest repellents later down the line.
Choosing The Right Bird Seed
The types of birds that will be attracted to your bird feeder has much more to do with the seed you put inside it than the unit itself. But not all bird feeders can handle all sorts of bird seed. Or rather all sorts of bird feeds, to be more specific, as not all bird feed uses seeds: some blends use corn, peanuts, and more.
But not all bird feeders can handle all sorts of bird seed.
If you only want to attract finches, for example (and indeed the bright and beautiful gold finch is a favorite species of many bird lovers), then a thistle seed is the perfect bird feed. These diminutive seeds can be placed in purpose built bird feeders with smaller feeding ports that larger birds' beaks can't access. Putting thistle seed in a general purpose feeder won't work, though, as the small seeds tend to flow out of the feeder's openings.
If you want to attract the greatest variety of birds possible and you are not especially concerned with dissuading certain species and favoring others, basic black sunflower seeds are the affordable and reliable way to go. Rich in oil, these seeds help give birds plenty of energy to burn, and their flavor is almost universally appreciated. The thin shells of the sunflower seed are also easy for most birds to crack.
For larger birds like jays and pheasants, consider a feed made not using seeds at all, but rather from dried corn kernels, from shelled peanuts, or from a blend of the two.
And of course you can always invest in blended bird seed mixes that have everything from sunflower seeds to peanuts to millet and more. These blends can keep a variety of birds fed and healthy.
A Few Words On American Birds
There are more than 900 different species of wild bird living in America and Canada alone. Looking at a few of the subspecies of birds in a bit of detail can help give you an appreciation for the vast range of differences among the many birds plying the skies, forests, and waters of North America. While you are unlikely to see many Wedge Rumped Storm Petrels (or the oceandroma tethys to be precise in taxonomy) visiting your backyard bird feeder, you are more than likely to see finches dining there.
And as finches are non migratory, if you can find the right feed to attract them to your property, you can enjoy the presence of these feathered friends all year round.
But which type of finch? There are now fewer than seventeen varieties of finch living in North America. These birds share many traits, such as a small size, a pointed, usually triangular beak shape (though a few finishes have hooked beaks), and often brightly colored wings. And as finches are non migratory, if you can find the right feed to attract them to your property, you can enjoy the presence of these feathered friends all year round.
If you're interested in attracting swallows, there are only eight different subspecies of American bird about which to learn. (There are more than 80 swallow species around the globe, though.) Swallows gobble up lots of insects and thus can help reduce the bug population in your yard. Attracting them with bird feed will help keep them in the area, a bonus as they look lovely and as they balance their feed diet with mosquitoes and flies you would rather not have bugging you.