What is the Best Birdfeeder for What Bird?: How to Choose a Good Feeder for Particular Birds

There are various types of birdfeeders including the hopper, tube, window, thistle, tray, suet, peanut, fruit and nectar feeders. Two websites have excellent illustrations of some of the different feeders. They are The Fat Robin Wild Bird and Nature Shop and Birds-n-Garden. Combined with different food these different feeders attract different birds. The best feeder will be the feeder/food combination that most successfully attracts the type of birds that the birdwatcher wants to see.

Once the birdwatcher has established that the bird he or she wants to attract is in the area, the birdwatcher can refer to the list of birds below and see what type of feeder might be most successful. The list has been compiled mainly from information the websites listed under sources below. The birds are found in the United States.


Some US Birds and the Birdfeeders They Enjoy

  • blackbirds: tray, hopper,
  • bluebirds: tray, hopper
  • blue- jays: peanut
  • buntings: tray, hopper, window
  • cardinals: hopper, tray, tube (sometimes), window
  • catbirds: fruit
  • chickadees: tube, thistle (sometimes), peanut, tray, hopper, window
  • cowbirds: tray
  • crossbills: tray, hopper
  • doves: tray
  • doves (mourning): hopper
  • finches: tube, tray, window
  • goldfinch: thistle
  • grosbeaks: hopper, tray
  • house finch: thistle (sometimes), hopper
  • humming birds: nectar feeder with sugar water
  • jays: tray, hopper
  • juncos: tray, hopper
  • mocking birds: tray (fruit), hopper (rarer mocking birds)
  • most birds: hopper with seed
  • mourning doves: hopper
  • nuthatches: tube, peanut, tray, hopper
  • orioles: fruit, tray
  • pine siskin: thistle, hopper, tube
  • pyrrhuloxias: tray, hopper
  • robins: tray (apples), hopper
  • smaller birds: tube
  • sparrows: tube, tray, hopper
  • thrashers: tray
  • titmice: tube, peanut, tray, hopper, window
  • towhees: tray, hopper
  • woodpeckers: suet, peanut, thistle
  • woodpeckers (red bellied): fruit
  • wrens: tray, hopper

The Type of Food Needed to Use With the Birdfeeder

It is important to stock the feeder with the correct food for the bird the birdwatcher wants to attract. A good person to ask about the choice of food is the supplier of the birdfeeder. A person wanting to get started quickly with a birdfeeder will enjoy fast success with a hopper filled with a mix of bird seed

General Notes

  • Smaller birds will also enjoy a hopper but will find themselves competing with the larger birds. In South Africa doves and finches often drive smaller birds away from the hopper.
  • Birds are seasonal – ask the supplier of the birdfeeder what birds are about and when.
  • Make sure the birdfeeder is squirrel proof. The birdwatcher should ask the supplier of the feeder specifically about this as squirrels can quickly damage feeders. In South Africa, rats are attracted to hopper feeders filled with seed.
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