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All About Bird Feeders


Table of Contents

  1. How do I choose  the right feeder ... ?
  2. Where can I find bird feeders ... ?
  3. Why don't the birds come to my feeders ... ?
  4. What kind of seed do I offer the birds... ?
  5. How do I keep feeders clean ... ?
  6. What are specialty feeders... ?

How do I choose  the right feeder ... ?

Bird feeders are designed with specific birds in mind.  Feeding preferences of birds are as varied as the species themselves.  The first step in choosing the right feeder is determining the birds you want to attract to your yard or habitat.  Use your field guild for bird identification.  If you don't have one, visit an online field guide at eNature.com.  Determine the bird's favorite seed and what kind of feeder it prefers.  Some birds like to feed from handing feeders, while others prefer platform type feeders.  If you are planning to attract goldfinches for instance, you would want a hanging type feeder.  A hanging thistle feeder would be the ideal choice.  The small feeding ports in a thistle feeder prevent larger birds from "hogging" the seed.    If pigeons are a problem, you want to select a feeder that would prevent or at least deter pigeons form taking over the feeder.  Larger birds such as blue jays enjoy a platform feeder with plenty of room for sunflower seeds and peanuts in the shell.  Platforms are a great way to serve up stale bakery products, bread, and pieces of fruit.  Cedar feeders are durable and add a rustic look to your habitat. 

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Where can I find bird feeders ... ?

Many good choices in feeders are available locally at your local Wal-Mart or similar store.  For a more specialized selection, there are many great mail order catalogues available.    Don't forget to look  around at craft shows, fairs, and specialty shops  for hand crafted feeders.  There are beautiful hand crafted feeders available at these locations.  Online, I suggest Audubon Workshop as well as Duncraft and Wildwood Farms Heritage Farms also offers great feeders.  I have personally purchased feeders from all of these merchants and was very well pleased.


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Why don't the birds come to my feeders... ?

Maybe you should take a look at just where your feeders are located.  Birds feed at different levels, so it stands to reason that feeders placed at various heights will attract more birds, and help create better harmony at the feeders.  Birds prefer to feed in the morning and a sheltered southeastern exposure will provide the birds with the best feeding conditions in the morning hours.  Locate the feeders near the shelter of shrubs and trees offering a means of escape if necessary.  Avoid placing feeders near thick undergrowth where a lurking cat may be hiding.  Feeders designed for placement on windowsills are ideal for close up bird watching.  Books such as National Audubon Society North American Birdfeeder Handbook offer many suggestions that will help you succeed with bird feeding. 


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What kind of seed do I offer the birds... ?



Downy Woodpecker Sunflower seed, corn, cornbread, peanut butter, suet, shelled peanuts.
Red-bellied Woodpecker Sunflower seed, meat scraps, nuts, cheese, apples, bananas, suet and peanut butter.
Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker Nutmeats, suet, and fruit.
Northern Flicker Suet, peanut butter, sunflower seeds, fruit, meat, and bread.
Stellerís Jay Nuts, scraps, and suet.
Blue Jay Peanuts, sunflower seeds, corn, suet, and bread.
Black-Billed Magpie Meat and bread scraps.
American Crow Bread, scraps, and corn, and suet.
Black-Capped Chickadee Sunflower seeds, peanuts, donuts, bakery scraps, suet and bones.
Tufted Titmouse Sunflower seeds, suet and bread.
Bushtit Breadcrumbs, sunflower seeds, and birdseed mixtures.
White-Breasted Nuthatch   Peanuts, sunflower seeds, and suet.
House Wren Suet, bread crumbs.
American Robin Apples, sunflower seed, and bread.
Northern Mockingbird Raisins, apples, suet, peanut butter, and donuts.
European Starling Bread, scraps, and peanuts.
Northern Cardinal Cracked corn, nuts, sunflower seeds and peanuts.
Rose-Breasted Grosbeak Sunflower seeds.
Indigo Bunting Peanuts, millet, and other seeds.
Painted Bunting Sunflower seeds and seed mixes.
American Tree Sparrow Wild bird seed mixes, white millet.
Song Sparrow Sunflower seeds, seed mixes, and bread crumbs.
Red-Winged Blackbird Bread, cracked corn, and mixed seeds.
Common Grackle Sunflower seeds, bread, and kitchen scraps.
Brown-Headed Cowbird Bread, cracked corn, and sunflower seeds.
Northern Oriole Oranges, apples, grape jelly, and sugar water feeders.
Pine Grosbeak Sunflower seeds and grain.
Purple Finch Sunflower seed, thistle seed.
House Finch Mixed seed, peanuts, fruit, suet and kitchen scraps.
Red Crossbill Sunflower and thistle seeds.
Common Redpoll Suet, breadcrumbs.
Pine Siskin Nuts, rolled oats, thistle, and mixed seeds.
American Goldfinch Thistle and sunflower seeds.
Evening Grosbeak Sunflower seed.


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How do I keep feeders clean... ?

Scrub your feeders with a solution of 1 part household bleach to 4 parts water. Let the feeders dry thoroughly before refilling.   Keep areas around feeders free from seed hulls and bird droppings.


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What are specialty feeders... ?

Feeders such as suet feeders, hummingbird feeders, platform feeders, thistle feeders, hanging feeders,  and squirrel feeders that are designed to hold a specific type of feed are specialty feeders.  Many birds have preferences as to what level they like to feed, and whether the feeder is stationary or hanging.  This is a trial and error area, and you just keep trying until you discover what they really like.    


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Information for this chart was taken from "National Audubon Society North American Birdfeeder Handbook"
 Copyright © 2002  Backyard Wildlife Habitat.info  All rights reserved.
 Revised: 01/19/05.