Types of Bird Feeders

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This article provides information about feeding birds during the winter
by Brett · All Zones · Birds · 2 Comments · March 28, 2011 · 6,106 views

Types of Feeders
The ideal bird feeder is sturdy enough to withstand winter weather, tight enough to keep seeds dry, large enough that you don't have to refill it constantly, and easy to assemble and keep clean. For these reasons, plastic or metal feeders or wooden feeders made with types of weather-resistant types of wood such as cedar or mahongany work best.

In general, seed-feeders fall into three categories: tray feeders, hopper feeders, and tube feeders. Tray feeders are typically placed close to the ground and attract ground-feeding birds such as juncos, sparrows, and towhees. Tray feeders also work well when mounted on deck railings, stumps, or posts. Hopper feeders are very common and are often hung from trees, decks, and poles. These feeders are especially good for larger species such as cardinals, jays, and grosbeaks. Tube feeders are typically suspended from trees and posts. They are excellent for finches, titmice, and chickadees.

Feeder Placement
Place your feeder in an area free of disturbances where it is easy to see and convenient to refill. Your feeder should be close to natural shelters (cover) such as trees or shrubs...and if you have a cat, high enough so the cat can't reach the feeder!

Large evergreen shrubs and trees are ideal, providing maximum cover from winter winds and predators. If trees and shrubs are too close, however, they can also provide good jumping-off places for squirrels that may be eyeing the seeds, and cats that may be eyeing the birds. A distance of about 10 feet seems to be a happy compromise.

You can provide resting and escape cover for ground-dwelling birds, such as Song Sparrows, by placing large, loosely stacked brush piles near your feeders.

Feeder Maintenance
Clean your feeders about once every two weeks or at least once a month, more often during times of heavy use. Scrub them with soap and water, then dip them into a solution of one part bleach and nine parts water. Rinse them well and allow them to dry thoroughly before refilling them with birdseed.

Another important maintenance activity is to periodically rake up birdseed hulls beneath your feeders. Decomposing hulls may harbor bacteria that could spread bird diseases to your feathered guests and may kill your lawn or flowers.

Bird-Feeding Concerns
Poorly maintained feeders may contribute to the spread of infectious diseases among birds. The feeders themselves can sometimes pose hazards too. Here are some helpful hints for successful bird feeding:

  • Avoid overcrowding at feeders by placing numerous feeders several feet apart.
  • Keep your feeding area and feeders clean.
  • Keep food and food-storage containers dry and free of mold and fungus.
  • Check your feeders for safety. Sharp edges can scratch birds and make them susceptible to infection.
  • People wonder whether bird feeding causes birds to change their migratory behavior. The clue that most birds use to migrate is the change in day length rather than the availability on the ground around the feeder to make your feeding site more obvious.
  • If the seed in the feeder is blowing out or getting wet, there is a good chance that your birds are getting the same treatment. Your feeder may simply be too exposed. Moving it to a calmer, more sheltered spot may increase visitation.
  • In newly developed housing areas, birds may not feel sufficiently protected because trees and shrubs may be small or few in number. Remember too that bird populations fluctuate naturally from year to year, so if you notice a scarcity of feeder birds this year, you may be surprised by an abundance of birds the next year.

Joyce Joyner

Joyce Joyner · Gardenality Sprout · Zone 8A · 10° to 15° F
I've heard that it is 'irresponsible' to feed birds during the summer as they need the higher protein diet..BUGS...but they still come to my feeders and I enjoy them in my yard AND I think they help with insect control during the summer...to feed or not to feed, in the summer????

9 years ago ·
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Gardenality.com · Gardenality Genius · Zone 8A · 10° to 15° F
I've heard the same warnings that say to not feed birds during summer because it makes them stop eating insects. This is a myth and totally untrue. There have been many studies done that show birds don't rely 100% on food from feeders during the summer months. If you're feeding them seed during the summer, the seed will supplement but not reduce their wild food diet, such as insects, which also gives them needed protein. It's like saying that because someone was gonna give me cheese pizza for free every day that this is all I would ever eat. The feeders and feed we supply might also benefit birds that aren’t insect eaters. I feed the birds year round and it seems they eat less during the summer months...probably because there's more insects around. I think that feeding birds year round will simply attract more birds to not only feed but nest and raise their young on your property. It's also a good idea to provide a water source for birds. The more birds you attract, the more water sources there should be. I have 5 bird baths of various sizes and depths in my yard, and a garden pond. So, YES, feed the birds during summer and don't forget to provide water.

9 years ago ·
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