What Are the 8 Best Types of Bird Feeders?

With so many different types of bird feeders available, it can be hard to decide which one is right for you, particularly if you’re relatively new to the world of caring for the wild birds that visit your backyard.

The problem isn’t just that there are a lot of options, but also that there is no clear way to find the best bird feeder. We will be happy to help point you in the right direction, my friend.

Ultimately it helps to know what types of birds visit your area, and the species of birds in particular you want to attract. Many bird lovers find that have a feeding station or two will attract a wider variety of birds.

This article offers tips and advice on how to pick the best type of bird feeder for your needs by comparing eight different types and their pros and cons. We’ll also share some helpful tips and resources if you want more information about any specific type or brand of feeder.

By the way, if you click on a link and then make a purchase, we may earn a small commission at no additional cost to you.

How to Choose the Right Kind of Bird Feeder

how to choose the right kind of bird feeder

Choosing the best bird feeder type for the specific species of birds you’re trying to attract isn’t always clear-cut, but we’ll help you through the process.

First, let’s talk about the different types of bird feeders, and which feeder will attract birds to your backyard.

Here are eight different types of feeders and how they can be used effectively:

1| Tube feeders

Tubular feeders are one of the most common types of birdfeeders. They generally come in one- or two-sided varieties, and often have perches for multiple birds to gather around the tube at once. One nice feature about these is that you can usually see into the tube or portion of the feeder to monitor seed levels.

One downside of tube feeders is that they can be a little harder to clean, depending on the design. However, most offer a drainage system that makes this an easier task. These feeders also don’t obstruct your view as much as some others might.

2| Hopper feeders

Hopper feeders are similar to tubular ones, but they are generally larger and include some type of platform. The design will often include a roof and be enclosed on all sides, which can protect the seed from the elements.

These types of bird feeders attract larger birds such as mourning doves, grosbeaks, and woodpeckers, as well as finches, blue jays, sparrows, chickadees, and titmice.

Typically they aren’t squirrel-proof without some type of modification like a squirrel baffle, although some of the larger hopper-style feeders will include a weight-sensitive perch. If something larger lands on the perch of a hopper feeder (um, like a squirrel!) the feeding ports will close.

Note that hopper feeders can be harder to clean than tray feeders. And, put a squirrel baffle on your feeder if you don’t want to be feeding the squirrels.

3| Window feeders

Window feeders are also very common among birdfeeders. They’re great for those who enjoy watching the birds because they offer an almost completely unobstructed view of the birds on the feeder.

You can attach them to your window or another flat surface with suction cups, which makes the view easy to see. However, the feeder itself is often more exposed than some other types of feeders, so they can be more difficult to clean and less weather-resistant.

The idea behind this type of platform feeder is that you provide the birds with a stable surface to eat from. They can be mounted just about anywhere, but they aren’t quite as popular because of their simpler design and smaller capacity.

However, tray feeders are still very effective at attracting birds and can also offer easy-to-clean convenience due to their open design.

A tray feeder can be hung from a hook or sit on the ground, perfect for ground-feeding birds.

5| Suet Feeders

A suet feeder is designed to hold suet cakes, which are formed from fat, seeds, and other ingredients. They often offer an enclosed design with room for several birds to eat at once. You can place them on hooks or hang them directly from trees.

Birds that enjoy eating suet include bluebirds, wrens, woodpeckers, chickadees, and nuthatches.

Suet feeders are usually made of wire in the shape of a cage to hold the suet. They attract insect-eating birds because of the protein found in the suet.

Many suet cakes contain nuts and berries. It is attractive bird food for sure, but note that if your sute is unprocessed it may go rancid rather quickly in the warmer weather.

6| Hummingbird/Sugar Water/Nectar feeders

Do you want to attract hummingbirds?

Hummingbirds are very small birds that enjoy eating sweet nectar-like food in addition to insects. You can attract them with a feeding tube made from glass, plastic, or metal.

Hummingbird feeders will typically include a glass bottle, tube, and dish.

A hummingbird feeder will usually have a perch for the birds to sit on and eat from nectar ports that are just below the perch. Don’t be surprised if you see orioles and the occasional woodpecker feeding as well as the hummingbirds!

7| Oriole feeders

Orioles will consume fruit in addition to insects and nectar. They’re best attracted using a feeder made with a grape jelly base.

These feeders often come in a variety of shapes and sizes, but they usually have a way for the birds to perch on them while eating.

8| Thistle feeder

Thistle feeders are also known as finch feeders, and they attract finches, buntings, juncos, and pine siskins.

Thistle seed, also known as nyjer seed, is very high in fat, which makes them attractive to many types of birds. They’re often sold during the winter months when birds love to gorge themselves on fatty foods for energy to get through the long cold nights.

Thistle feeders are versatile because they can be placed anywhere and offer little waste. Some thistle feeders come with a tube and perch, but they can also be hung from trees or posts.

You’ll find more birds attracted to your thistle feeder if it is placed near a shrub or tree. It will make the birds feel safer and encourage them to try out the feeder.

Best Tips for Choosing the Right Types of Bird Feeders

best tips for choosing the right types of bird feeders

Location and outdoor climate

In general, feeders need to be in a location where they will not accumulate water when it rains. If they do, the seeds become moldy which can make your birds sick or even kill them if they eat too much of it.

In addition, you should clean the feeder at least once a month to get rid of any mold that may have accumulated. If you live in an area where you don’t get much rainfall, this task won’t be as important, but it will still need cleaning periodically.

Appearance and cost

Most feeders are relatively affordable and last for quite awhile depending on the climate and overall weather conditions, as well as how it is cared for. 

Feeder capacity

How much seed you need for each feeder is going to depend on the types of birds that visit your feeders, as well as how many birds come each day.

For example, if you have 50-75 redpolls every day, you’ll need to refill your feeders more often than if you have 10-15 goldfinches.

How to Attract the Most Variety of Birds

Many backyard bird enthusiasts are trying their best to attract as many different types of birds as possible.

Here are some general tips for choosing the right type of bird feeder for your needs:

1) Tube feeders are great for attracting smaller birds such as sparrows, chickadees, and finches, although it depends on the size of the perches under the feeding ports.

If you decide to use a tube feeder with a perch above the feeding port it will attract birds that can eat upside down (chickadees and goldfinches), and discourage those that can’t.

They also provide the great visibility for bird watching.

Tubular feeders work best when placed in a place where there is natural cover nearby for birds to rest in before they fly off to another location. This cover can be trees or even buildings with shaded areas or large shrubs nearby.

Some tube feeders have built-in pole mounts that can be used to place them up high, making it easy for you to monitor seed levels.

2) Hopper feeders attract more clingy smaller birds like nuthatches, chickadees, and titmice. Some of these feeders have clips that allow you to easily attach suet or seed cakes.

3) Window feeders are best for those who enjoy watching birds and want an unobstructed view of the birds at the feeder.

They can also work well in smaller spaces such as apartments or condos, when a backyard feeder isn’t possible.

4) Tray or platform feeders are best for those who want a variety of different types of birds and many of them at once.

5) For those who live in a colder climate, snow and rain-proof feeders that can withstand freezing temperatures are ideal. Hopper and window feeders almost always have drainage systems so the seeds don’t freeze as often as those in tubular feeders.

6) For those who live in a warmer climate, you should open-air mount bird feeders so the heat from the sun can help dry the seeds after it rains. However, this type of feeder won’t be as sturdy or reliable in colder climates due to possible ice buildup.

7) If you have multiple feeders, rotate the type of seed so each feeder has a chance to rest and stay dry. You can also cover some feeders when it rains to prevent any water from getting inside.

Conclusion: Best Types of Bird Feeders for You

There are many types of bird feeders out there to choose from, but you should first determine where you want them placed and what type of seed you will provide, based on the types of birds you want to attract to them.

Keep in mind that there are many factors for choosing the best type of bird feeder, like size and design, but ultimately your decision should depend on what types of birds you want to attract.