An Introduction to Bird Feeders

Bird watching is one of the most popular pastimes in the United States and one that continues to grow in popularity. Like so many others, I have long been intrigued by birds. They are flying feathered gems that come in a variety of colors and sizes, each with its own song or call. I discovered a long time ago how enjoyable and relaxing it is to observe birds up close and personal. The best way I’ve found to attract a variety of birds into my own back yard so that they are close enough to watch is to set up bird feeders.

There are many different bird feeders on the market to choose from today. With such a huge array of choices, picking one or two feeders may seem confusing at first. It helps to understand that each bird feeder can be categorized into one of approximately ten different types of feeders with each type being made for a specific purpose or type of bird. This article will concentrate on the four most popular types of bird feeders: the platform feeder, the hopper feeder, the tube feeder and the hummingbird feeder.

The Platform Feeder

The platform feeder is the simplest type of feeder that you can get and in its most basic form consists of a single platform or tray upon which you can place the bird food. Of course, this initial design may vary, and there are other feeders available which have taken this original design and changed it slightly to add to the basic idea. Examples of this include hopper and gazebo feeders and especially ground feeders which are very similar to platform feeders.

However if we go back to the original platform design, you will find that there are many benefits to this type of feeder. The platform feeder is the easiest to set up and maintain, is generally inexpensive and is a great feeder for someone just starting out with this hobby. Simply place the platform feeder on a post, pole or patio table, and you have your first bird feeder.

The downside of a platform feeder is that the bird food is exposed to the weather. Also, oftentimes smaller birds are crowded out by the larger birds on this type of feeder. Still, there are many positives to this type of feeder which, depending on your requirements, may outweigh the disadvantages.

The Hopper Feeder

The hopper feeder, sometimes referred to as a Gazebo feeder, is another very popular type of feeder. At its most basic level, it is simply a platform feeder with a roof. At the fanciest level, these feeders can resemble upscale feeding mansions. Accordingly, the price for this type of feeder can range from under $10 to something quite expensive for the fancier models. Whether basic or lavish, most hopper feeders feature a roof and walls so that they resemble a small house or gazebo.

Although not completely weather proof, hopper feeders do a fairly good job of protecting your bird seed from the elements. Different sizes are available which hold varying amounts of food. For people who don’t have time to refill a bird feeder every day, one of the larger hopper feeders may be a good choice. Hoppers may be placed on a pole or post or hung from a hook or tree branch, and baffles may be added to deter neighborhood squirrels. Keep in mind that a larger hopper filled to capacity can be quite heavy, so be sure choose the type of mount accordingly.

The Tube Feeder

There are two types of tube feeders which are available, and each serves a unique purpose. The first is designed to hold common bird seed and the second is designed to hold niger or thistle seed. The niger tube feeder, commonly called a finch feeder, is designed with special feeding ports for dispensing the tiny niger seeds. In all other aspects, these two types of tube feeders are the same.

As the name of the feeder implies, it is tubular in design. The tubes are made from plastic for the most part, although other materials are sometimes used. The base, top and feeding ports may be plastic or metal. Metal is preferred since squirrels can quickly destroy a feeder with plastic feeding ports. The tube feeder comes in various lengths. Depending on the design, the length of the feeder often determines how many feeding ports or perches are available.

Like the platform feeder, the tube feeder does a pretty good job of protecting the bird seed from the environment. An overhead “weather baffle” may be purchased to further protect the feeder from bad weather. Tube feeders are great for attracting the smaller birds as the short perches discourage larger birds from attempting to feed. Most tube feeders can be post or pole mounted or hung from a hook or branch.

Bird watching is one of the most popular pastimes in the US and one that continues to grow in popularity. Like so many others, I have long been intrigued by birds. They are flying feathered gems that come in a variety of colors and sizes, each with its own song or call. I discovered a long time ago how enjoyable and relaxing it is to observe birds up close and personal. The best way I’ve found to attract a variety of birds into my own back yard so that they are close enough to watch is to set up bird feeders.

There are many different bird feeders on the market to choose from today. With such a huge array of choices, picking one or two feeders may seem confusing at first. It helps to understand that each bird-feeder can be categorized into one of approximately ten different types of feeders with each type being made for a specific purpose or type of bird. This article will concentrate on the four most popular types of bird feeders: the platform feeder, the hopper feeder, the tube feeder and the hummingbird feeder.

The Platform Feeder

The platform feeder is the simplest type of feeder that you can get and in its most basic form consists of a single platform or tray upon which you can place the bird food. Of course, this initial design may vary, and there are other feeders available which have taken this original design and changed it slightly to add to the basic idea. Examples of this include hopper and gazebo feeders and especially ground feeders which are very similar to platform feeders.

However if we go back to the original platform design, you will find that there are many benefits to this type of feeder. The platform feeder is the easiest to set up and maintain, is generally inexpensive and is a great feeder for someone just starting out with this hobby. Simply place the platform feeder on a post, pole or patio table, and you have your first bird feeder.

The downside of a platform feeder is that the bird food is exposed to the weather. Also, oftentimes smaller birds are crowded out by the larger birds on this type of feeder. Still, there are many positives to this type of feeder which, depending on your requirements, may outweigh the disadvantages.

The Hopper Feeder

The hopper feeder, sometimes referred to as a Gazebo feeder, is another very popular type of feeder. At its most basic level, it is simply a platform feeder with a roof. At the fanciest level, these feeders can resemble upscale feeding mansions. Accordingly, the price for this type of feeder can range from under $10 to something quite expensive for the fancier models. Whether basic or lavish, most hopper feeders feature a roof and walls so that they resemble a small house or gazebo.

Although not completely weather proof, hopper feeders do a fairly good job of protecting your bird seed from the elements. Different sizes are available which hold varying amounts of food. For people who don’t have time to refill a bird feeder every day, one of the larger hopper feeders may be a good choice. Hoppers may be placed on a pole or post or hung from a hook or tree branch, and baffles may be added to deter neighborhood squirrels. Keep in mind that a larger hopper filled to capacity can be quite heavy, so be sure choose the type of mount accordingly.

The Tube Feeder

There are two types of tube feeders which are available, and each serves a unique purpose. The first is designed to hold common bird seed and the second is designed to hold nyjer or thistle seed. The nyjer tube feeder, commonly called a finch feeder, is designed with special feeding ports for dispensing the tiny nyjer seeds. In all other aspects, these two types of tube feeders are the same.

As the name of the feeder implies, it is tubular in design. The tubes are made from plastic for the most part, although other materials are sometimes used. The base, top and feeding ports may be plastic or metal. Metal is preferred since squirrels can quickly destroy a feeder with plastic feeding ports. The tube feeder comes in various lengths. Depending on the design, the length of the feeder often determines how many feeding ports or perches are available.

Like the platform feeder, the tube feeder does a pretty good job of protecting the bird seed from the environment. An overhead “weather baffle” may be purchased to further protect the feeder from bad weather. Tube feeders are great for attracting the smaller birds as the short perches discourage larger birds from attempting to feed. Most tube feeders can be post or pole mounted or hung from a hook or branch.

The Hummingbird Feeder

The hummingbird feeder is a nectar feeder designed specifically to attract hummingbirds. They come in a huge variety of shapes, sizes and designs. In fact, if you’ve never shopped for a hummingbird feeder before, you will be amazed at the choices that are available. The prices run from inexpensive to moderately expensive, with the more expensive models resembling beautiful works of art for your yard and garden.

You’ll find feeders that will feed one or two birds at a time on up to a much larger number of hummers at a time. Some feeders will be made with plastic. Others will have fancy glass etchings or copper decorations. Some will have tube feeders and others will have other types of feeding ports. Some hold the nectar in a clear container in order for you to gauge the level of the liquid inside. You’ll find that most hummingbird feeders are red or have red adornments as this is a color that attracts hummers. Whether the feeder you choose is red or not, placing some red flowers near the feeder will do an even better job of attracting hummers into your yard.

One thing to be aware of when purchasing hummingbird feeders is that hummers are extremely territorial birds. They will fiercely protect what they feel to be “their” feeder. Consider purchasing multiple feeders and place them far apart from each other, or place many feeders together in such a way that there are too many for one hummer to protect.

As you can see, there is literally a plethora of choices when it comes to bird feeders. I hope this article helps to clarify some of the choices that are available. If you are fortunate enough to have a wild bird specialty store in your area, you can often obtain expert advice to help get you started. Whatever type of feeders you decide upon, I hope they bring you many years of enjoyment in this wonderful hobby of backyard bird feeding.

The hummingbird feeder is a nectar feeder designed specifically to attract hummingbirds. They come in a huge variety of shapes, sizes and designs. In fact, if you’ve never shopped for a hummingbird feeder before, you will be amazed at the choices that are available. The prices run from inexpensive to moderately expensive, with the more expensive models resembling beautiful works of art for your yard and garden.

You’ll find feeders that will feed one or two birds at a time on up to a much larger number of hummers at a time. Some feeders will be made with plastic. Others will have fancy glass etchings or copper decorations. Some will have tube feeders and others will have other types of feeding ports. Some hold the nectar in a clear container in order for you to gauge the level of the liquid inside. You’ll find that most hummingbird feeders are red or have red adornments as this is a color that attracts hummers. Whether the feeder you choose is red or not, placing some red flowers near the feeder will do an even better job of attracting hummers into your yard.

One thing to be aware of when purchasing hummingbird feeders is that hummers are extremely territorial birds. They will fiercely protect what they feel to be “their” feeder. Consider purchasing multiple feeders and place them far apart from each other, or place many feeders together in such a way that there are too many for one hummer to protect.

As you can see, there is literally a plethora of choices when it comes to bird feeders. I hope this article helps to clarify some of the choices that are available. If you are fortunate enough to have a wild bird specialty store in your area, you can often obtain expert advice to help get you started. Whatever type of feeders you decide upon, I hope they bring you many years of enjoyment in this wonderful hobby of backyard bird feeding.

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