Last month we shared with you some great tips on what bird seed to use and why (CONNECTIONS: What Bird Seed Should I Use?) What we didn’t tell you is what type of bird feeders you should put that seed in! So, here are some helpful tips on the different types of feeders and the types of seed that work best in them.
This one may seem pretty obvious, but believe it or not, there are several types. The best type of suet feeder is one that has a tail prop. This is an extension at the bottom of the feeder that gives a woodpecker a place to prop their tail. This feels more natural to them, like they are on a tree, and it will help to attract bigger woodpeckers like Hairy, Red-bellied, and maybe even a Pileated Woodpecker!
Tray and Ground Feeders
These are open feeders that provide an opportunity for multiple birds to perch and feast at the same time, particularly birds that like to eat on or near the ground. Birds like sparrows, Red-winged Blackbirds, Blue Jays, and Northern Cardinals enjoy this type of feeder. Also, you can use most any type of seed in them, including mixes, sunflower, or, perhaps, mealworms, if you want to attract bluebirds.
Similar to a tray feeder, it has a somewhat open area for feeding, but also has a roof. These feeders come in ranch or fly-through styles. They provide a wide feeding area that will attract cardinals, sparrows, juncos, Mourning Doves, and, if you are lucky, a Rose-breasted Grosbeak! Like a tray feeder, you can use a variety of types of food: mixes or sunflower (both in the shell or kernels). The best mixes have a high percentage of sunflower seed.
There are a number of different types of tube feeder, and they come in a variety of sizes, as well. The basic design of a tube feeder is, of course, a tube with several ports and perches for the birds to feed from. These are generally best for smaller birds, as larger birds can have difficulty getting food from the ports. These feeders are great for either mixed seed or sunflower, and will attract a variety of finches, sparrows, chickadees, and titmice, among others. They also come in squirrel-proof varieties, as well.
Other Specialty Feeders
There are also a host of other types of feeders available. There are dish feeders with a dome for all types of seed and mealworms. Finch feeders that hold nyjer (thistle) seed or a special finch blend are also available. These are great for attracting many goldfinches at a time. Another choice is a window feeder that mounts right on your window with suction cups that are great for small birds. Chickadees love them, and you can see them up close. Fruit feeders are also a great choice for the warmer months when the orioles and catbirds are in town. There are also a variety of different shapes and sizes of feeders for hummingbirds. These can be filled with a solution of sugar and water or a special hummingbird nectar.
The staff at the Maine Audubon Nature Store will be happy to answer any of your questions regarding bird seed and feeders. Both seed and feeders are currently available for curbside pick-up. Please give us a call at (207) 781-2330 x201 and we will gladly take care of you.
Our educators, scientists, advocates, and naturalists are committed to keeping you connected to the natural world as we deal with the coronavirus situation together. Check in every weekday on our Connections page for family activities, parent/teacher tips, backyard birding, nature exploration at our sanctuaries, and more.