How bird feeders attract wild birds is important to understand when enticing wild birds to a garden. Not all of our feathered friends like to eat the same foods or dine at the same type of feeder as other wild birds.
How different types of bird feeders attract a variety of wild birds.
Hopper Bird feeders: (sometimes referred to as chalet or gazebo feeders) are the traditional style of feeder. Many people begin with one of these feeders when they start backyard bird feeding. A hopper feeder has a bin to hold the seed which is dispensed through openings along the base of the feeder by gravity. The birds sit on a perch or an extended part of the floor of the feeder to eat. Black oil sunflower seeds or a good quality mixed seed, work best in this style of feeder. Most of the following common backyard birds will be attracted to this style of feeder: cardinals, blue jays, chickadees, finches, redpoles, woodpeckers, and titmice.
Suet Bird Feeders: a wire plastic coated cage that holds a cake of rendered fat, usually beef (commercial type). The suet can be served as is, or mixed with a variety of seed, dried fruit, bugs and peanut butter. Suet provides a high source of energy to sustain the birds through cold nights and active days. Birds that have a taste for suet are woodpeckers, nuthatches and chickadees. But, most birds will partake of suet if served in a suet feeder, especially when they require extra energy in the spring and early summer when nesting and later to feed it to their young.
Tube Bird Feeders: a hollow tube with perches spaced along the sides or a circular perch at the base for the wild birds to sit. Black oil sunflower seed or a mixed seed for small birds is best suited for this feeder. The small birds which will be attracted to this type of feeder include chickadees, American goldfinches, purple finches, and nuthatches. But, if peanuts are added to the mixture, downy woodpeckers can be included to this list.
Nyjer (thistle) Feeders: nyjer feeders are most often a tube shape, but can also be available in a hopper style too. The important feature is the tiny size of the seed port. Nyjer seed is very small, light weight, and more expensive than most other seed types. It will blow away if used in other styles of feeders. The added expense though is well worth it as American goldfinches have an insatiable taste for this seed. Once they catch on, to have dozens of birds eating and waiting their turn in the trees around the feeder is not uncommon. Chickadees and some members of the finch family will join the line up too.
What about the wild birds that don’t eat seed?
We sometimes forget that not all wild birds consume seeds, some wild birds eat bugs, worms, nectar or fruit as their staple food.
Mealworm Feeders or Bluebird Feeders: are usually clear acrylic containers. The transparency allows the birds to easily find them and sides are necessary to contain the active live mealworms. (For the more squeamish dried mealworms are available.) There is a long list of birds that are attracted to mealworms. They include: bluebirds, warblers, wrens, chickadees, mockingbirds, robins, catbirds, thrushes, thrashers, vireos, cardinals, woodpeckers, creepers and titmice.
Syrup Feeders: attract additional visitors to our backyard gardens. Most bird watchers are familiar with oriole and hummingbird feeders which dispense sugar syrup. Some visitors to these feeders sometimes surprise us. These unexpected guests include: finches, sparrows, woodpeckers, titmice, nuthatches, tanagers, warblers, thrushes.
Fruit Feeders: to hold berries, bananas, oranges and dried fruit will be gratefully received (requiring patience from the bird watcher) by orioles, tanagers, finches, woodpeckers, nuthatches.
A diverse array of bird feeders designed to appeal to the needs of a wide variety of birds will enhance any backyard garden space. After the bird feeders are set up, all you need is a little patience.