In this article, I will be reviewing the 5 of the best bird feeders to use in the garden. We are now quickly approaching winter, the lean period for birds that visit our garden. They are now looking for food to sustain them through the winter months.
They are not only for the ornithologists amongst us but for everyone to attract the feathery friends to our gardens.
It must be appreciated that different birds will be attracted by different types of feeders, as well as different types of food. Food types will be reviewed in my next article but in this present article, I will be concentrating on the right type of feeder that birds like when visiting your garden. There is no point spending all your cash on bird food and get the bird housing wrong.
It is like getting a three-course dinner of the best food and expecting to eat it from a toilet.
CHOOSING THE CORRECT FEEDER
First, you must realise that each bird that visits your garden is different. They not only differ in size but in the preference of food and where they eat it from. Some birds like to eat from ground feeders, whilst others like to eat from tall structures such as trees.
Some birders are braver than others and do not mind being seen eating, whilst others will stay close to areas where they cannot be seen.
If you want to attract a wide range of birds, you will need a number of bird feeders at different locations around the garden. You can use more than one type of feeder to attract more visitors.
To attract the various birds, you need to use the many different designs of bird feeders. Each different design has its own style and is depended on what type of bird you wish to attract. Some designs will attract one certain type of bird, whilst other feeders will attract other types of breed.
The more important consideration is the bird’s safety. In other words, the feeder that you purchase does not cause any harm to the birds themselves. Firstly, they must not get trapped in the bird feeders themselves, like getting a foot caught, and secondly, must be protected from predators and thieves.
Cats are the main predators you need to be wary about but this could include other birds like birds of prey, magpies and crows. Thieves include squirrels, rats and possibly mice. All of these are agile climbers, so you want your feeder to be able to handle these pests.
DIFFERENT TYPE OF FEEDERS
What follows are the most common found feeders for birds:
A seed feeder attracts many different species, of bird to your garden from tits, sparrows finches and siskins. They are normally constructed from plastic or metal gauge structures, available in many sizes and styles. These are normally filled with varies birdseed mixes. Metal feeders are much more long-lasting than plastics and can take much more punishment. They are also more protected from the crafty squirrels.
For small seeds like nyjer, you can use specially designed feeders that have smaller holes or slits instead of the usual standard sized feeding holes. This is important, otherwise, seeds will fall out and be wasted.
If you want to waste less seeds, you can use seed trays attached to your seed feeder. This will not only catch any fallen seeds but provide a spot where a bird can perch from. This is ideal for small birds but larger birds can also perch on them. So there are two sides to the use of seed trays.
These are feeders that provide food for birds near to ground level as possible. These feeders attract a vast array of birds from wrens, robins, blackbirds, thrushes, etc.
You can sprinkle directly on the ground on lawns or on the patio area. If you do not want the mess, you can use specially designed ground-level feeding tables. It is best to have the table in a visible position, away from shrubs or trees, so that cats cannot lurk and pounce from behind bushes.
To help protect the ground feeding table, you can use a ground feeder cage. This will not only protect the birds from predators but also from pigeons going on an eating frenzy, preventing the smaller birds from getting a look in.
If you want to use a ground feeder, you may need to use more than one. Spreading out the feeders, so that birds are not competing for food.
Do not overload your ground feeder, as this will attract vermin. It is also good to move your ground feeders around the garden so that predators cannot get used to their location.
It is best to use smashed peanuts, grated cheese or suet balls to attract a wide range of birds. Do not put them in any netting bags at all, as they can trap bird’s feet, causing injury.
NUT AND NIBBLE FEEDERS
These are usually filled will suet balls or peanuts. There are often visited by birds that can cling to the side, such as tits, woodpeckers and nuthatches.
The only safe method to offer peanuts to the birds is via a steel mesh frame. The mesh size ideally should be 6mm in size, large enough for their beaks to go in, but not large enough for large peanuts to be removed. Be careful as large nuts can be a choking hazard to birds.
These feeders come in a variety of forms and sizes. Some feeders can be filled with suet balls whilst others can be filled with suet cakes. Some can even take a mixture of the two. Usually, the feeders are fabricated from a wire mesh, which are filled with suet and provides a safe method to which the birds can cling to. These feeders are often visited by tits or starlings.
HOW TO MAINTAIN YOUR FEEDERS
Feeders can be a breeding ground for a large number of microbes, It is, therefore, good practice to keep your feeder clean all year round, especially in the summer months. This is when warm weather can cause the birds’ food to spoil quickly.
Salmonella exists in the excrement of wild birds, which can be passed on at feeding stations if it is not cleaned. Some birds can be seriously affected by this infection.
To avoid this clean any feeder on a regular basis. To do this you need to practice good hygiene for you and the birds themselves. You need to clean the feeder outside (do not bring indoor and clean) using brushes for the purpose.
Each feeder that you have must be cleaned using a separate brush to avoid spreading any infections. You can clean using a mild disinfectant. To avoid infections to yourself it is best to use gloves whilst doing so.
There are two main predators of bird feeders that do not consume the food that is laid out but their target is the birds themselves. These include birds of prey and cats who will target the birds as they feed.
Other predators do not target the birds but the food themselves. This includes grey squirrels, rats and mice.
These are major pests of bird feeders. They can chew through the plastic damaging them, whilst eating the food inside. Squirrels are hungry beasts and will quickly consume any food that you put out if you do not deter them.
A guard around the feeder can help to deter squirrels but any small orifices can be exploited by juvenile squirrels. Often they will squeeze through holes to gain access to their prize. It must be stressed that it is impossible to totally squirrel-proof any bird feeders.
To help you need to place feeders 2m away from trees, shrubs, tall structures or fences. They are determined creatures and can jump from the ground or down from above.
An alternative is to use squirrel cones, either above or below the bird feeder. This supposed to stop the squirrel from reaching them but a determined squirrel will always succeed. You can try greasing the poles of feeder, so making it more difficult for squirrels to climb.
Rats and mice are deterred in much of the same way.
These hunt for the pleasure of it and not for food. This is particularly true during the birds’ breeding season, where all birds are in peril.
You can use various cat deterrents but the biggest problem is that cats get used to them in the long term. The sensors will not deter them, especially if there is a prize of a bird to be had.
You can help to protect birds from cats by using ground-level feed cages or other guardians to stop them accessing birds. Do not place the feeder close to trees as this will place the birds in danger. If the feeders are placed away from dense cover, such as trees, then the birds have a greater chance of being left alone.
Bird of prey attacks are difficult to prevent.
GARDMAN BLACK STEEL SEED FEEDER
Name of Product: Gardman Black Steel Seed Feeder for Birds
Best Place to Buy: www.amazon.co.uk
Product Dimensions: 2cm x 13cm x 10cm
Shipping Weight: 0.44kg.
This is a seed feeder for birds that is made from durable metal. It can be used for all types of seed mixes, sunflower seeds and peanut bites, where it should attract smaller birds, whilst keeping bigger birds away.
The advantage of this product is that it contains a biocide that will keep bacteria under control.
It is easy to clean as the base and top can be easily removed to allow it to be filled quickly, whilst making cleaning easier as well.
It can hold 650g of seed mix, 630g of peanut bites or 470g of sunflower seeds.
- Easy to clean.
- Easy to fill.
- Can be used with numerous seed mixes.
- Coated with biocide to make it more hygienic.
- Users are very happy with this feeder.
- User have complained that squirrels and rats can still steal food.
- Cats still can be a problem if you do not offer any protection as recommended in this article.
If you are looking for a nyjer seed bird feeder you can find one here.
Name of Product: Ruddings Wood Pack of 2X Wild Bird Raised Metal Mesh Tray Ground Feeders
Best Place to Buy: www.amazon.co.uk
Product Dimensions: 220cm diameter x 50mm high
Shipping Weight: unknown
This is a fine mesh wild bird feeder that helps to keep the bird food in and allows any rainwater to drain away freely through the fine metal mesh. The raised tray allows ground-feeding birds such as blackbirds and robins to have access to the food.
The trays themselves are manufactured from heavy-duty steel with a durable powder coating to prevent any rusting. Various feeds can be used from seed mixtures, sunflowers seeds, peanuts, mealworms, and broken suet balls.
- Allows rainwater to drain away easily.
- Allows ground-feeding birds to access food at ground level.
- The trays are durable coat protected and easy to fill.
- Numerous types of bird feed can be used.
- Definitely not squirrel or cat-proof. It will need protection from these animals, which can be done if you use a CJ Wildlife Ground large mesh.
- It is quite lightweight so in windy conditions could be blown over. To avoid this you may need to weigh it down.
HEAVY DUTY NUT FEEDER
Name of Product: Gardman Large Steel Peanut Feeder – Black
Best Place to Buy: www.amazon.co.uk
Product Dimensions: 16cm x 16cm x 29.5cm
Shipping Weight: 0.570kg.
This is a black coated cage steel feeder ideally designed for peanuts. It can hold 620 grammes of peanuts in a 27cm tall feeder. It can be disassembled by removing the top and bottom, allowing it to be easily filled or cleaned. The bird feeders have a biocide coating present and therefore will kill bacteria on contact.
This is ideal for many birds and should keep the squirrels away, although this is not guaranteed.
- A durable bird feeder that is made from steel.
- It can be easily filled and cleaned.
- Biocide coating present allows the food to stay on longer without the need to replace or clean frequently.
- Squirrels cannot be guaranteed to stop attacking and eating the bird food in this bird feeder.
Name of Product: Chapelwood Heavy Duty Suet/Scraps Feeder
Best Place to Buy: www.amazon.co.uk
Product Dimensions: 16.4m x 14.6cm x 6.2cm
Shipping Weight: 0.34kg.
This is an attractive as well as functional bird feeder that will attract wild birds to your garden. It is constructed of durable coated steel cage with a green cover and hanging handles. The handles allow it to be hanged from a feeding station.
Ideally, the small aperture should protect the suet cakes or scraps used within to be protected from squirrel attacks. If you are using with seeds you can use the feeder with a seeds tray, other all the seeds will fall out, but I would not recommend it. It is better to use seed feeders highlighted in this article.
- This is a sturdy and durable suet bird feeder.
- It is rustproof and had strong hanging handles.
- It is easy to clean and to fill with suet cakes.
- It is still not totally squirrel proof. They may not be able to eat the wires but they can still stuff their faces if the mouths can go through the apertures and consume the suet.
SQUIRREL PROOF BIRD FEEDERS
Name of Product: Roamwild Squirrel Proof Wild Bird Feeder.
Best Place to Buy: www.amazon.co.uk
Product Dimensions: 47cm x 19.5cm x 19.5cm
Shipping Weight: 0.998kg.
This is a past proof bird feeder, where squirrels, rats and large birds cannot access the food within. How it works is when a large bird, squirrel, or rat lands on the perch the hatch moves downwards. This motion blocks off access to the food.
Once the pest moves off the perch, the perch hatch automatically returns to its original, open, position. Access is now granted to small birds or closed off once again when a pest tries to access the bird feeder.
No adjustments are required, as it can be used straight from the box. It has multiple feeding ports, so preventing the birds from fighting when multiple birds try to feed at the same time. This is a problem for other squirrel proof feeder with one porthole.
The bird feeder also comes with a weather guard to keep seeds from getting moist. This will prevent the seeds from sticking together and clogging, which will make the seeds unusable, as the birds cannot get access to them.
You can fill the feeder with mealworms, peanuts, suet balls, or a mix of all three. It is also easy to clean and simple to fill.
All you need to do is remove the lid and fill. The seed container itself is made from UV stable polycarbonate, and such survive any attacks from squirrels.
In order from the mechanics to be successful, the bird feeder needs to be placed at least 2m away from any climbable structure. This will prevent the squirrel from stretching and accessing the feed without touching the perch mechanism itself. This will force the squirrel to climb on top of the feeder and ensures that the trigger mechanism is never engaged.
- Highly Durable and water-resistive
- Can be used with dried mealworms, peanuts, seeds, or suet balls.
- Keeps any squirrels, large birds and rate from accessing the food. Multiple birds can feed at the same time.
- It has a 1.5 litre capacity so will not need to be filled regularly.
- Saves you money from lost feed.
- It may take a while for the birds to get used to the perch opening mechanism.
- Not one of the cheapest bird feeder to buy.
- Starlings may not be deterred and can continue to raid the feeder frequently.
In this article, 5 of the best bird feeders to use in the garden has been discussed. There are 4 types of bird feeders that can be used, each tailored for different birds as highlighted in this article. I have selected one from each category which I believe offers the best value for the money you will invest.
As a 5 I have chosen a squirrel proof bird feeder, which hopefully stops this cunning creature from raiding your bird feeder. If you are looking for a bird feeder that will keep you bird friends from getting hungry then most certainly you will find it in these 5 bird feeders.
As long as you follow my advice when suing the bird feeder, you will get many years of pleasure from them. Many birds will visit your garden too- A win-win situation.
If you have any questions or remarks you wish to make, please do so in the comment box below.
Happy bird feeder hunting.