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Bird Feeder Selection – Match Feeder, Seed and Bird

There are several options to consider when selecting a bird feeder. The more specific the feeder type, the more consideration you need to give to matching the feeder style with the birds you wish to attract.

A platform feeder is the most basic style and attracts the greatest diversity of species. It can be as simple as a flat piece of wood mounted on a pole.  Platform feeders can be placed close to the ground or several feet up. A long and narrow platform is best. It is inexpensive to build and easy to use.  Just spread your sunflower seed on the platform and you’re done.

Platform feeders are attractive to a variety of species and easily accommodate offering a variety of food types, including seed, fruit and nuts. There are disadvantages including the fact that they are open to squirrels and perhaps some undesirable bird species. Advantages include being easy to fill and easy to clean.

Select from the menu on the left for information on the major feeder styles and their features.

Match feeder, feed and species
Some feeders are designed for a particular kind of seed. One design might be for sunflower or mixed seed while another is for feeding Nyjer® (thistle), a popular seed for attracting finches. Knowing what kind of birds you wish to attract can help you select the proper feeder and feed type.

A variety of species enjoy sunflower seed and there is a variety of both tube and hopper feeders that accommodate sunflower seed.

Prepare for squirrels
If you know squirrels are in your area be ready to put up with them or plan to add a baffle or purchase a feeder with a  squirrel-proof design. Squirrels are a challenge.

Feeder location
The location of your bird feeder may also affect the types of birds you attract. Sparrows prefer to feed low to the ground while species such as goldfinches prefer an elevated feeder. If you are having few visitors to your feeder, give it a little time; the birds will find it. If you want to accelerate the process mount your feeder on a temporary basis closer to the birds’ natural cover or food supply. After the feeder has been discovered it can be moved it to a better viewing location.

Window collisions
Window collisions are a major problem for birds. Millions of birds are killed each year after colliding with tall buildings, especially during migration.

Home window collisions are also a problem. To minimize window collisions some experts recommend the following feeder locations.

• Within three feet of the window – birds leaving the feeder will not be able to build up enough speed to harm themselves.
• Located over 30 feet from windows. This distance gives birds time to recognize the danger and change course.

Species diversity
To attract a larger variety of species you will want to maintain more than one bird feeder (feed) type. A combination of sunflower seed, finch feed, suet and water can be amazingly effective in drawing birds into your yard.

For more information on the various types of feeders and the species they attract, review the information on feeder types and selection. Please also make yourself familiar with feeder care, which is very important to the health of the birds.

Birding Quick Hits

Harris's Hawks of the southwestern United States hunt in packs to increase their chance of success.