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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Information for this chart
was taken from "National Audubon Society North American Birdfeeder Handbook"