How should you select a wild bird feeder?

If you're new to feeding birds, wild bird feeder shapes, sizes and features may have you confused or even intimidated.

Even if you've had feeders for a while, the addition of a new one can be a daunting task.

Where to begin?  What questions to ask?

Placing a bird feeder is often a case of trial and error.  Hopefully, these tips help limit the amount of time and money you spend selecting the right one for the results you expect within your unique habitat.

Which feeders for which birds?
First, know what species are in your area.  A platform bird feeder works well to attract all feeder bird species large and small so you can take inventory of your visitors.

What birds have you seen that you want to attract?  Have you fallen in love with Northern Cardinals?  Do hummingbirds fascinate?  If you want to limit feeder access to only certain species, you might add a tube bird feeder.

Do you hope to add color and charm to you garden with the addition of a bird feeder?  Search the dozens of hopper bird feeder variations that run the gamut from simple to whimsical.

How would you like to see your wild visitors eye-to-eye, almost literally, with the close-up view a window bird feeder can afford?

Dining Habits
When deciding on the birds you want to attract, do some homework about their bird feeder habits and preferences.

Blue Jays are handsome and fascinating to watch. They're also big, bold, and bossy at the feeder driving other birds away.  House Finches, House Sparrows and others are numerous and can eat you out of house and home.  It’s easy and economical to brew up sugar water nectar for your hummingbirds.  But understand that in many places they are visitors for only a short season.  In some summertime habitats they are plentiful while in others their numbers are small.

Feed Preferences
Ask about feed preferences of the species you want to attract to a wild bird feeder.  If you offer seed, you'll be disappointed when fruit-eating bluebirds don't accept your hospitality.

When choosing a wild bird feeder, consider other wildlife with which your avian guests may have to compete.  Squirrels, chipmunks, raccoons, deer and others will all help themselves at the bird feeder. And if you are in an area with bears, well, you might want to re-think the entire idea of putting out a feeder.

Wild Bird Feeder FAQ
Say you decide you would like to attract those small, bright yellow birds you see in the summertime.  When you go to your wild bird supply store you describe the bird you want to attract. The store owner tells you they are Gold Finches and shows you several wild bird feeder models from which to select.  There are tubular finch feeders, mesh finch feeders and Gold Finch feeders. Which to select? What questions to ask?

When shopping for a bird feeder to attract a specific species always ask, “What other birds will also eat from this feeder?”  I wish I would have asked that question and probed more when I bought my first finch feeder wanting to attract Gold Finches.  I brought home a finely made metal tube feeder with slots above the six perches along with a sack of thistle seed.  I very quickly learned that the House Finches took over the generic finch feeder and the lovely yellow Gold Finches I found so endearing had to wait their turn.  The seed disappeared quickly, too.  Then I tried a Gold Finch feeder that had feeding slots below the plastic perches.  Gold Finch feeders have the feeding slots below the perches where only Gold Finches (and their darling little cousins the Pine Siskins who rarely make an appearance) can hang upside down to comfortably feed and use it to the exclusion of all the rest.  Success!  Until the squirrels chewed up the plastic perches to try to get to the seed. On my third try, a Gold Finch feeder with metal perches finally did the trick. Now I have two of them and my Gold Finches feast in peace.

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