Bird Feeders – The Basics

As it gets colder, natural sources of food for birds dwindle. Bird feeders help our feathered friends by supplementing their diets with birdseed, suet, water, and nectar. Setting up the right bird feeder can also create a great opportunity for you and your family to enjoy bird watching and nature from the comfort of your home.

The most common birds of the Long Island backyard are the Cardinal, Chickadee, Finches, Blue Jays, Titmice, Wrens, Sparrows, Woodpeckers, and Hummingbirds. Whether you want to attract a specific type of bird or as many varieties as possible you will need to keep the following things in mind when choosing a bird feeder.

Which Bird Feeder Is Right for You?

Specific bird feeders attract specific kinds of birds. The more bird feeders you have in your yard the more birds you will attract. Having more than one bird feeder also keeps feeder crowding to a minimum. This makes for a welcoming environment for your new friends. There are ground feeders, tube feeders, suet feeders, hopper feeders, and thistle feeders.

Tube Bird Feeders

Tube bird feeders are probably the most common feeders used today. They come in a variety of lengths and usually have multiple feeding stations. These are the best choice for the beginner as they allow you to attract the widest variety of species. Some feeders even have 3 tubes so you can put 3 types of seed and attract even more birds. Some have large openings for bigger seed like sunflowers. These are for you larger birds. Some have small openings for thistle or nyger seed. These are for smaller birds.

 Tube Bird Feeder

Triple Tube Bird Feeder


Hopper Bird Feeders

Hopper bird feeders are another very popular style of feeders. They have very large chambers for holding birdseed. They come in many shapes such as a house, gazebo, lighthouse, lanterns, or covered bridges. They are very easy to fill and basically work the same way. You fill the feeder to the top and the seed comes thru slats on the bottom usually into a tray. These are great to attract your larger birds like cardinals and blue jays which aren’t as comfortable feeding on smaller tube feeders. One downside to the hopper feeder is the easy access for squirrels.

Hopper Bird Feeder

Hopper Bird Feeder

Platform Bird Feeders

Platform bird feeders are almost like shelves that you place seed on. They are exposed to weather and all critters. They will hold a large amount of bird seed and attract a wide variety of birds including small perching birds as well as the larger birds. Platform bird feeders will also hold pretty much any type of bird seed as well as fruits, nuts, worms and insects and digestive amendments like grit.

Platform Bird Feeder

Specialty Types of Bird Feeders

Specialty bird feeders attract a large mix of wild birds to your yard. Some of these specialty bird feeders vary on the type so food you use, the construction and look of the feeder and can be used for specific purposes like keeping squirrels out of your bird feeder.

Suet Bird Feeders

Suet bird feeders are mesh feeders that hold the high energy, high calorie suet bird feed. They look like small wire baskets that are specifically designed to hold a suet cake. A common size is 4 inches by 4 inches but other sizes are available. They are great for attracting woodpeckers but cardinals, bluebirds, and wrens love them too.

Suet Bird Feeder

Hummingbird Feeders

Hummingbird feeders are exactly as they sound. Specifically for hummingbirds, these bird feeders hold liquid nectar. They are either in a bottle shape or a saucer shape.

Bottle Hummingbird Feeder

Saucer Hummingbird Feeder

Saucer Hummingbird Feeder

Peanut Bird Feeders

Peanut bird feeders are similar to a tube feeder but instead of having a glass tube, they have a wire mesh tube. They will dispense highly nutritious peanuts to almost any bird. If you have never had one, you should try it. Peanut bird feeders will bring many other species to your backyard that you many not have seen before. Most birds will love the peanuts.

Peanut Bird Feeder

Squirrel Proof Bird Feeders

Just as everyone is trying to build the better mouse trap so are they with a bird feeder to deter squirrels. There are some great squirrel proof bird feeders available now that make it almost impossible for a squirrel to get at the birdseed. These bird feeders have trap doors, spinning perches, and wire grating around them. Half the fun of squirrel proof bird feeders is watching the squirrels try to “break in” to them.

Squirrel Proof Bird Feeder

Window Bird Feeders

Window bird feeders are usually very small and can attach to your living room or kitchen window. They hold only a little seed but they allow you to get very close to the birds from inside your home. They usually attach to the glass by suction cups.

Window Bird Feeder

Bird Water Trays and Birdbaths

We must not forget a bird water tray for your new found friends. Leave a water tray or a birdbath out all year. Not only do they need this to drink but birds do like to clean themselves. Dees’ Nursery has bird bath heaters to prevent them from icing up in the winter months.

Where Should You Put Your Bird Feeder?

Choosing the right spot for your bird feeder is the key to success in birding. Just hanging it in the nearest tree isn’t always sufficient. Not only do you need to consider the feeding style of the birds you also need to consider the threat of neighborhood cats as well as window collisions. Even though they aren’t a hazard, squirrels want to get at your bird feeder and steal your seed.

Wild birds would prefer as little human contact as possible so place the feeder with the least amount of traffic. You also need to put the feeder in an area that is easy for you to fill it with birdseed. Bad weather is the #1 reason feeders aren’t filled so make sure your feeder is in a spot that will allow you to fill it quickly and easily in rain or snow.

Protect Your Bird Feeder from Predators

As you attract more birds to your yard, not all of them will be able to feed at one time so it is important for you to make a backyard habitat that will allow the birds to hide and take cover while they are waiting their turn to feed. The proper choice of trees and evergreens will help your birds. You want to have your feeder close to the natural shelter for quick and easy access in case of an intrusion but also far enough away so the predator can’t jump to the feeder.