When I was a child, my father and I built the best bird feeders. Well, they were the best to me. They were tall and burgundy, just like the shutters and banisters on our house. And every day scores of blue jays would compete for the best seed.

My father and I made a game out of it, counting just how many blue jays could fit on one feeder. One day, we may have even gotten over 20 blue jays at one time.

Whether you want to impress your kids or just love interacting with nature, bird feeding can prove very rewarding.

Why Bird Feeding?

If you're thinking about bird feeding, here are a few reasons to get in the game.

You can help the environment

Did you know that bird feeders can give birds the strength they need to migrate? It's true! It's a win-win-win: Bird feeders don't deter birds from migration, helps them when they do, and you positively contribute to the environment in the process.

You can unite (bird) families

When the population booms in the spring, parent birds have to find food for their chicks. However, if they can get great food from your bird feeder, they can go home and spend more time with their babies.

You can prevent disease

Everything from a bird's stress level to their overall health is better in areas with bird feeders.

You can be a safety net

Life can be hard for a wild bird in the winter. And unlike geese, not all birds fly south for the winter. A bird feeder can be an important source of food during months of food scarcity.


How we reviewed

We combed through the best bird feeders online and here’s what we came up with. Some will be better or worse depending on your location, the weather, and what birds you want to invite to your yard.


Where Are the Birds?

Imagine this scenario:

You want to attract cardinals to your yard. You get your best bird feeders set up, complete with seed and maintenance tools. Now you wait.

Birds begin to populate your feeder, and you get excited ... but no cardinals.

What went wrong?

In order to observe the birds you want, you'll have to know where they are.

THE NORTHEASTERN U.S.

THE U.S. SOUTH

THE MIDWEST

Where Are the Rare Birds?

If you're a real bird aficionado, here are some example of pretty rare birds from all over the country:

birds flying

Source: Pexels.com

Ivory-billed Woodpecker

This is the rarest of all bird sightings, considering many think the species extinct. The species went virtually unseen from 1987 to 2004, when it resurfaced in Alaska.

Though some debate exists around the topic, the ivory-billed woodpecker is thought to be the rarest bird in North America.

Prairie Chicken

There's no point being coy — this bird's name is hilarious. Unfortunately, its story is not so funny. Even with birds released from captivity into the wild, the species is circling the drain. Traditionally found in Louisiana and Texas, less than 40 prairie chickens remain alive in the wild today.

Kirtland's Warbler

This little bird is on the upswing. Though it took a dip around the 1970s and 1980s, its population has bounced back, with over 1200 singing males found in 2003. This bird can typically be found in Michigan and Wisconsin.

Others

Some birds refuse to be categorized based on location. Take robins. They are well-known for their large orange chests and ripping earthworms from the ground. They can also be found pretty much anywhere, a distinction they share with sparrows, blue jays, Northern Cardinals, American Goldfinches, chickadees, and Mourning Doves.


Factors to Consider Before Shopping

Before you can pick the best bird feeders, you should know the risks:

Inclement weather

Depending on the weather where you live, you'll have to switch up your bird feeder game. This will either mean changing out summer feeders for winter feeders, or looking for an all-purpose, year-round one.

Either way, choosing to feed birds is a big responsibility, so do it with care!

Unwanted visitors

Knowing who you don’t want to attract is as important as knowing who you do. The squirrels and raccoons around your property are probably waiting for an opportunity to eat your bird food and destroy your feeder.

With some smart shopping (like getting a squirrel-resistant feeder), you can get ahead of the curve.

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Maintenance

When buying a feeder, be honest with yourself. Are you going to check it daily? Will you make sure sharp edges can't hurt your feathered friends? Are you willing to clean up what comes AFTER the birds eat?

After a while, birds in your area might come to depend on you. So it's best to truly consider your impact on the environment before taking up the hobby just for "fun."


Common Problems

Sometimes, owning the best bird feeders isn't a piece of cake. You may find yourself frustrated or disappointed at times. But here are a few common problems you can avoid:

NO ONE WANTS TO PLAY WITH ME

SQUIRRELS

DISEASE


Best Bird Feeders

Which bird feeder works best for you depends on your goals. What kinds of birds you want to see and where you live will be big factors. Here are a few different types of feeders to get you started.

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How we reviewed

We combed through the best bird feeders online and here’s what we came up with. Some will be better or worse depending on your location, the weather, and what birds you want to invite to your yard.


Tray or platform feeders

Nature's Way Bird Products CWF3 Cedar Platform Tray Bird Feeder, Beige

For simplicity, almost nothing beats a platform feeder. It can accommodate various seed mixes, and larger types of birds.

You can find some very cheap on Amazon, like the Nature's Way CWF3, and they don't take a lot of setup. One customer even claimed that the feeder fed both squirrels and birds with ease.

Caution: It may not be one of the best bird feeders. Multiple customers have complained about its hanger and mesh wiring on the bottom.

Nature's Way Bird Products CWF3 Cedar Platform Tray Bird Feeder, Beige
  • Crafted from insect and rot resistant Premium cedar with a water-based protective stain
  • The Rust-Free Tray Lifts Out Easily for Cleaning, Preventing Mold and Bacteria
  • Wide opening allows for easy filling and less spilling - designed to accommodate various seed mixes including Sunflower...


Hopper or house feeders

Butterfly and Flowers Welcome Decorative Hand-Painted Bird House

You'll recognize this kind of feeder. A decorative bird house not only provides birds with food, but your area with aesthetic. The advantages of this kind of feeder are numerous, including a ceiling to protect your seed from rain. Hoppers have a mechanism to control food consumption (releasing more as the birds eat.) This can cut down on waste.

This bird house also features a removable cleaning plug at the bottom, and makes a great gift.  — "adorable."

Butterfly and Flowers Welcome Decorative Hand-Painted Bird House
  • Wonderful gift for any bird or nature lover and perfect addition to your deck or patio
  • Birdhouse will accent your home or garden
  • Uniquely crafted and includes jute cord attached securely for hanging


Nyjer/thistle feeders

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Though some birds can eat larger grains like sunflowers, that won't attract everyone. Thistle feeders were made for smaller kind of seeds, like Nyjer. It's an easy mix-up to make, but if you provide seed bigger than your feeder, you'll have some angry friends!

Typically used to find House Finches, chickadees, and doves, thistle feeders are easy to find on Amazon. The Bird Quest SBF2G provides nine thistle seed ports, and a completely removable bottom for an easy clean. It sports a well thought-out design.

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Best Specialty Bird Feeders

If those didn't satisfy you, there are even more of the best bird feeders to consider:


Window feeders

Nature Gear Window Bird Feeder - Refillable Sliding Tray - Weather...

This kind of feeder is one of the most exciting. Instead of being far away in your yard, a window feeder puts you right in the middle of the action.

The Nature Gear Window Bird Feeder can be a great choice for that. From resisting rain to snow to squirrels, there's not much this simple feeder can't accomplish. It's also a quality option for kids!

Nature Gear Window Bird Feeder - Refillable Sliding Tray - Weather...
  • EASY TO REFILL from inside your house! Removable sliding feed tray makes it easy and convenient to refill your window...
  • WEATHER PROOF design performs well in diverse weather conditions! Roof and sidewalls help keep water and squirrels out...
  • SAFE FOR ALL your birds! We designed the removable feed tray with an integrated moisture removal system which...


Tube feeders

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Tube feeders are actually a lot like thistle feeders, but they can handle larger seed. They are large and cylindrical, accommodating multiple birds at once.

With the Droll Yankees Hanging Tube Feeder, the high capacity will probably reduce your trips outside. Some customers designate this as their "go-to" bird feeder.

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Suet feeders

Stokes Select Four Cake Suet Buffet Bird Feeder with Metal Roof, Four...

Suet feeders are you doing the birds a favor. During winter months, when they can't find insects to eat for fat, you can help them out! Suet typically comes in cakes, and the most common type of bird attracted by this feeder is a woodpecker.

The Stokes Select Suet Bird Feeder has four suet cakes, allowing several birds to feed at once. It also sports a weather-resistant finish.

Stokes Select Four Cake Suet Buffet Bird Feeder with Metal Roof, Four...
  • SIMPLE AND SLEEK DESIGN: Stokes designs all their bird supplies to easily and quickly attract birds, this feeder allows...
  • VERSATILE: Use the large cages to hold suet cakes or nesting materials in the spring and orange halves in the summer
  • HIGH QUALITY: Powder coated durable weather resistant finish creates a product that will last a lifetime!


What kind of seed do I use?

If you're worried about what type of seed to buy, you're not alone. But it doesn't have to be complicated:

Sunflower

Sunflower can come shelled or not. It's up to you, but with already-shelled sunflowers, there is less clean-up.

Millet

Millet is grass seed for small birds. The great thing about it is that it's enticing for many kinds of birds. That means that it can be a solid choice if you just don't know.

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Safflower

Some birds have a tough time with the safflower's shell, but cardinals love it. If that's the kind of bird you're trying to spy, this seed pairs well with a platform feeder.


Still Not Sure?

If you're still not sure what the best bird feeders for you are, you can always talk to your local brick and mortar stores. They can ask you questions about your location, your experience, and your preferences to get a better sense of what you need.

When you put up a bird feeder, you are inserting yourself into the ecosystem around you. That means that you're changing the way birds around you eat and where they think sources of food are.

In the most abstract, you're changing the very course of evolutionary history by intervening in nature. So make sure it's a positive change by properly evaluating your level of commitment.

Thanks for reading, and if you have a great bird story to tell us, leave it in the comments!

Feature image provided via Pixabay

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