All creatures deserve high quality food to develop optimally. Even birds that fly freely in the skies above us deserve more than mere scraps, wild fruits, and seeds that may be laced with pesticides and a whole lot of chemicals. Besides, one cannot deny that the tunes that birds sing are definitely more melodic, more relaxing than the metallic noise created by certain rock bands.
As such, bird feeders are created to allow us to feed free-flying avian species with high-quality food without necessarily impeding their sense of freedom. Bird feeders come in different types, shapes, and sizes and have become the centerpiece of any garden whose goal is to serve as a temporary haven for local and migratory birds for the whole family to enjoy. And if you’re thinking of adding a bird feeder in your garden, backyard, lawn, patio, or even in your window, then you’ve come to the right place. We’re your online resource for the best bird feeders to buy in 2019.
The 10 Top Rated Bird Feeders
- Squirrel-proof tube feeder
- Weather-resistant and 100% chew-proof
- Adjustable shut-off mechanism
- Cardinal ring included
- Made from tough and durable RoxResin
Adorable as they are, squirrels can be a real pain when it comes to feeding the birds in your garden. These greedy little critters are often guilty of snatching away bird food, and scaring away winged visitors. If this sounds like a familiar scenario, Brome’s squirrel-proof bird feeder could be the perfect option for your garden. If an adult squirrel so much as steps on this nifty bird feeder, their weight automatically shuts off access to the food inside. Over time, local squirrels will learn that these nuts and seeds just aren’t for them. This mechanism can also be adjusted to prevent larger birds from feeding.
They won’t be able to break-in, either – as the feeder is 100% chew-proof, made from tough RoxResin. While putting off squirrels, the feeder simultaneously encourages birds to come for a bite to eat. It’s fitted with a cardinal ring, specially designed to attract beautify Northern Cardinals to your garden. Thanks to a seed ventilation system, the feeder also ensures that food within stays deliciously fresh for all your garden visitors. Totally waterproof, the feeder is perfect for year-round use.
- Provides a lifelong cover for maintenance for added peace of mind
- Weighted to stop squirrels from getting to the food
- Highly durable and chew-proof bird feeders
- Ventilated seed system to keep food fresher for longer
- The weight system causes some bird seed waste as the birds leave
- These bird feeders are suited to smaller birds
- Squirrel-proof bird feeder
- 5-pound capacity
- Spinning perch is triggered by the weight of a squirrel
- Made from durable UV-stabilized polycarbonate
Droll Yankees have also earned a spot on our list, thanks to this effective bird feeder design. The capacious tube can hold up to five pounds of seed, reducing the frequency with which you’ll need to refill it. Fitted with four feeding ports, it’s easy for multiple birds to feed at once, without getting in each other’s way.
Like the previous item on our list, this feeder is totally squirrel-proof. It’s equipped with a motorized perch that starts to spin when triggered by the weight of a squirrel, shaking the animal off humanely. This system is powered by rechargeable batteries, so it’s easy to top up the power when necessary. For excellent durability, the feeder is made from UV-stabilized polycarbonate – specially treated so as not to decompose in bright sunlight. Overall, the clever system allows a wide array of birds to feed in your garden, without the nuisance of squirrels.
- This Droll Yankees feeder use a weight-activated perch ring
- Rust-resistant tube feeder is suitable for wetter climates
- 5-pounds capacity reduces refills
- Needs power for the motor, via battery or mains
- Only suitable for smaller birds
- Bird feeder stand, featuring 4 hanging spots and water and food trays
- Made from attractive and durable painted steel
- Easy to build and mount
- Suitable for grass, soil, gravel, and rocks
- Great for attracting a wide range of birds
Bird feeders are pretty much useless if you don’t have somewhere to hang them – that’s where this versatile stand comes in. Made from rust-resistant painted steel, the stand is as attractive as it is effective. Featuring water and food trays, along with four hanging spots, this handy piece of garden furniture makes it easy to give your garden birds their own five-star restaurant.
When the stand arrives, you’ll find it incredibly easy to build. Each screw can be tightened by hand, for a totally tool-free construction process. Fitted with four prongs, it’s easy to mount the stand securely on grass, soil, or even gravel. When you’re done, the stand can easily accommodate a wide array of feeding devices, allowing you to attract a huge array of local birds to your space.
- Multiple stands for different bird feeders
- Great for attracting larger birds and smaller birds in one
- Works on the sand, gravel or grass
- Not great when trying to deter squirrels as there is easy access to bird feeders
- Acrylic window-mounted bird feeder
- Stays in place with strong suction cups
- Lightweight design
- Removable tray for easy cleaning and refills
- The transparent design offers great views of the birds
You shouldn’t have to miss out on the joy of feeding the birds just because you don’t have a garden. Gray Bunny has therefore created the best window feeder for your needs. This ensures that even apartment dwellers have access to nature, with their handy window-mounted bird feeder. The clever device is easy to attach to your window, or any smooth surface, through a series of powerful suction cups.
The lightweight design stays rooted to your window with ease – even when it’s filled with up to four cups of seed. Thanks to a removable tray, this seed is easy to clean and refill when necessary. The tray is also fitted with a handy divider, so it’s easy to offer a few different types of food – hence attracting many different types of birds from Blue Jays to ground-feeding birds. Practically any garden bird will feed at home sitting on the sturdy perch that runs along the length of the seed tray. Because the tray is made from totally transparent acrylic, you’ll have an unrivaled view of your feathered patrons at play.
- Very easy to clean and a great choice in a wild bird feeder
- Perfect for bird lovers to watch their flying friends
- One of the best window feeder options for close contact with small birds
- The top is open to the elements, so birds’ feed can be ruined by weather
- Bird seed can get stuck between trays and tray holder of this window feeder
- Vintage style bird feeder with copper finish
- Circular perch for 360-degree feeding
- Sure-lock cap keeps squirrels out
- Can accommodate up to 2 pounds of bird feed
- Drainage holes remove excess water
For something a little more classic, you could choose this vintage copper design by Perky-Pet. The affordable bird feeder features a circular perch and tray for 360 degrees of feeding. This design ensures that multiple birds can feed at once, reducing the risk of squabbling. Thanks to its unique ‘Sure-Lock’ cap, the feeder’s lid locks firmly in place, keeping squirrels at bay.
Each feeder can accommodate up to two pounds of birdseed at once, reducing the need for regular top ups. This seed is evenly distributed around the circular feeding plate, and automatically topped up until the feeder is empty. Meanwhile, it’s antique copper finish not only looks great – it’s also resistant to rust, for a long, weatherproof life. Strategically placed drain holes also ensure that rainwater doesn’t accumulate in the feeder, keeping things fresh and tasty inside.
- A great option in medium-sized bird feeders
- Wide-mouth top is easy to refill this tube feeder
- Can be stacked with other bird feeders of the same brand/type
- A little shorter, so may not thoroughly deter squirrels
- Water can access seeds via the cable running through the tube feeder
- Cedar tray-style bird feeder
- Treated with an antibacterial, anti-mold stain
- Wide opening
- Deep tray helps prevent spillages
- Thick perch is suitable for larger brides
- Vinyl coated steel cables for secure hanging
If you’re searching for something a little more rustic, look no further than this cedar bird feeder by Nature’s Way. The cedar tray has been treated with a water-based protective stain, which protects against mold and bacteria for years to come. Thanks to the tray’s wide opening, it’s easy to fill, and won’t easily spill, helping the messier eaters in your garden to have an enjoyable dining experience.
The open design also allows larger birds to perch comfortably. In fact, everything from Cardinals to Grosbeaks, Titmice, to Jays, Woodpeckers, Finches, and more. The handy cedar tray is easy to hang from virtually any perch, supported by vinyl coated steel cables. All the hardware you’ll need is included, so you can hang the feeder right away. Each element is totally rust-proof, so you can rest assured the feeder is built to last.
- A great option in a wild bird feeder for wild birds that aren’t used to tube feeders
- Very easy to refill and doesn’t require disassembly
- Ideal for feeding large birds and works well to attract birds
- Unlike tube feeders, can be liable to weather changes
- Tray feeder offers no additional sections and is not squirrel proof!
- Garden feeder specifically designed for hummingbirds
- Brightly colored to attract hummingbirds
- Easy to fill and hang
- Made from durable plastic
If you’re lucky enough to have hummingbirds in your garden, they’re easy to feed with this handy device. With their needle-like, nectar sipping beaks, hummingbirds can’t eat at traditional seed filled feeders, so attracting them to the garden can be challenging. Thanks to its bright colors, this special feeder by First Nature will attract even the most reticent hummingbirds.
Featuring an easy-to-fill jar, with a wide mouth, the feeder is incredibly simple to use. It’s equipped with several feeding ports, allowing multiple hummingbirds to feed at once with ease. Overall, First Nature has made a great little bird feeder, which makes it simple and easy to feed your local hummingbirds. If you’re unsure what to feed your local hummingbirds, First Nature also produce a specially designed nectar concentrate.
- The unique style is designed perfectly for feeding hummingbirds
- The color of these hummingbird feeders, with small feeding ports, easily attracts hummingbirds
- An affordable feeder that is more durable than many other feeders
- Not suitable for other birds
- Customers note that these nectar feeders are a little wide
- Country house style bird feeder
- Adjustable squirrel-proof mechanism
- Removable ‘roof’ for easy refilling
- Suitable for mounting or hanging
- Made from durable wood and steel
Give your garden birds their own country manner with this attractive house-shaped feeder. Made from durable painted wood and steel, the sturdy device is 100% squirrel-proof. Whenever a squirrel steps onto the feeder, a clever mechanism snaps the feeding troughs closed. Thanks to its removable roof, re-filling the bird feeder is a breeze.
It can hold up to eight pounds of seeds at once, reducing the need for regular refills. If you want to keep larger birds off the feeder, the anti-squirrel mechanism can be adjusted to snap closed at varying weight limits. The versatile design can be pole-mounted or hung up, making it easy to find the perfect spot in your garden. Thanks to its long feeding tray, several birds can use the feeder at once, preventing any feathery squabbles. With its fun design, and sturdy construction, this handy feeder looks great in any garden.
- The quirky design of this hopper feeder looks great in any garden
- Suitable for a wide range of different seed types, including black oil sunflower seeds, and millet
- Holds a large capacity of mixed seed, of up to 8 pounds
- Squirrels appear to still be able to access food, easily
- Not ideal for large birds, as the mechanism closes on them
- Garden bird feeder
- Especially suitable for Cardinals
- 2.5 pound capacity
- Large overhang protects birds from the rain
- Attracts both perching and clinging birds
- Zinc coated for corrosion resistance
If you’re hoping to attract Cardinals to your garden, this feeder by Perky-Pet is the perfect solution. Made from zinc-plated metal, the sturdy device stands up to rust for year after year. It can hold up to two and a half pounds of seed at a time, so you won’t have to constantly shlep out to the garden for top-ups.
Fitted with a large overhang, the feeder keeps garden birds safe from the rain as they tuck into a tasty snack. With its cross-hatched design, a huge array of birds can stop for a snack at the feeder. Both perching and clinging bird types – including finches, grosbeaks, chickadees, and of course Cardinals. Thanks to a series of built-in drain holes, you can also rest assured that the side inside stays dry and fresh. Customers say that the feeder is solidly built, and easy to use. At under $25, it’s great value for money, too.
- Mesh design works well as thistle feeders
- A larger overhang helps to keep the seed dry for your backyard birds
- Works well for both clinging and perching birds
- Only holds a small amount of bird feed
- Is a little trickier to fill than other hanging feeder types
- Window mounted bird feeder
- Enclosed design keeps squirrels out
- Drainage system keeps seeds fresh and dry
- Removable tray for easy refills
Last, but not least, this window feeder by Nature Gear. The handy design can be attached to your window with three powerful suction cups, making it easy to position. With a removable feed tray, it’s easy to refill the feeder without removing the whole device from the window. With its weatherproof design, the feeder not only gives birds some much-needed snacks, but it also protects them against the elements.
As well as keeping your feathered friends cosy, this enclosed design prevents squirrels from getting inside. Thanks to an integrated moisture removal system, any seed inside the feeder stay dry and fresh. Made from crystal-clear acrylic, the feeder makes it easy to see the visiting birds with perfect clarity. Each feeder is backed by a 100% guarantee: Nature Gear promises to replace or refund the device if you’re not totally satisfied. Users agree that the feeder is built to an excellent standard of quality, and stays on the window with ease.
- Removable feeding ports/seed tray ensures easy refills
- Highly rated by customers who love seeing more birds use this bird feeder
- The drain system helps to keep the seed fresh and appealing
- Seeds will need to be mixed or kept to single types as there is only one seed tray
- Not a great deal of perching space and not ideal for clinging species
Best Bird Feeder Buying Guide
If you have already decided to add a bird feeder to your garden or even attach one on your window, you’ll find that you have plenty of options to choose from. While picking the right bird feeder system is crucial, equally important is your understanding of the different foods that these Mother Nature’s creatures feed on. This will help you better decide on the best avian feeding system to have in your home.
Why Buy a Bird Feeder?
There really is no other reason for buying a bird feeder than to contribute to the welfare and the long-term health of birds in the wild. Being in the wild may equate to being free. But this also means being exposed to a lot of danger from other birds and animals that are higher in the food chain. Most of the time, man’s activities have made wild birds’ source of food even more dangerous as chemicals are typically used in many of the foods that wild birds consume. There is stiff competition in the great outdoors. Squirrels, bears, deer, and other animals will also forage for the same food that birds subsist on. Providing these wild feathered creatures high quality food that only they can have access to underscores the importance of providing bird feeders in certain areas of our gardened homes.
Types of Bird Feeders
If you look at the market today you’d be greeted to a dizzying array of different types of bird feeders. The thing is that each one of these types is specifically intended to provide feed to birds that display a particular feeding behavior. For instance, if you’re looking to attract ground-feeding avian species, then a bird feeder that can be set on the ground or one with a low tray would be appropriate. Let us take a closer look at the different types of bird feeders.
- Platform feeders
A platform feeder is perfect for pigeons, grosbeaks, sparrows, starlings, jays, doves, blackbirds, and juncos. These don’t provide protection against snow, rain, and even bird droppings. The best platforms are those with ample drainage at the bottom. The issue with these types of feeders is that the seed is an open invitation to almost any other creature that loves seeds.
- House feeders
Also known as hoppers, these are attractive to finches, cardinals, grosbeaks, chickadees, jays, buntings, sparrows, titmice, and other feeder birds. Sadly, these are also magnets for squirrels. You will need a squirrel baffle to keep these out. The seeds contained in these types of feeding devices can last a few days so you don’t have to replace it every now and then.
- Window feeders
These are excellent for viewing birds feeding up close and personal. These can be easily mounted on almost any nonporous surface but are ideally installed against glass windows to allow for unobstructed viewing of the birds while they’re feeding. These are easily accessible and are easy to clean, too, and have become the favorite of chickadees, finches, and titmice.
- Tube feeders
As the name implies, tube feeders are hollow cylindrical tubes that can help protect and secure the seeds inside from the weather as well as from foraging creatures like squirrels. These are some of the best bird feeders, as they have feeding ports. While also coming with weight-activated closing mechanisms to keep out any unwanted species of birds – or other animals that are heavier than the designed weight of the tension spring. You may find some tube feeders in our guide on the best squirrel-proof bird feeders.
These are magnets for sparrows, titmice, finches, chickadees, and grosbeaks. Heavier birds like jays and grackles typically won’t feed on such systems. The only downside of this type of avian feeding system is that seeds tend to collect at the bottom just below the line of the feeding port. This can become the perfect breeding ground for microorganisms. As such, emptying the tube feeder is important prior to replacing the feed.
- Nyjer seed feeders
These are designed primarily for American goldfinches, common redpolls, and pine siskins as they are known to be especially fond with thistles or Nyjer seeds. These are available in two forms – thistle socks and tube feeders.
- Suet feeder
This type of avian feeding system is very simple, as simple as a platform or tray feeder. These are mostly made of wire mesh. In some cases, a mesh onion bag will do. These are nailed to a trunk, suspended, or even mounted to a hopper feeder. These are magnets for woodpeckers, starlings, chickadees, nuthatches, jays, and titmice.
Which Foods Attract Which Birds?
One of the most crucial aspects of feeding birds is knowing which foods will naturally attract which birds. Unlike other pets that can subsist in a more generalized kind of sustenance, birds will require different foods depending on their unique characteristics especially their size. You simply cannot expect a very small bird to be chowing down on a corn kernel, can you? So, which foods will attract which birds? Let’s find out.
These remain the favorite of a great number of small and large birds. Males generally love fruits because certain flavonoids found in fruits help enhance their colors, a natural trait used in courtship displays. Robins, parakeets, chlorophenols, tanagers, waxwings, and hornbills are just some of the many avian species that love fruits.
The hummingbird is best known for its love for nectar. Other birds that thrive on this juicy treat include the bananaquit, sunbird, myzomela, flowerpiecer, thrasher, and the sicklebill.
A great number of birds feast on insects as their principal source of proteins. They simply cannot get this from eating fruits and sipping nectar. They need protein to help build their muscles to flap their wings, too. Woodpeckers, kestrels, swallows, kingfishers, cuckoos, drongos, and sparrows are just some of the bird types that love feasting on insects.
Not all birds eat worms, but there are certainly those that treat these wriggly creatures as delicacies. The American robin and the black-bellied plover are both known to have a knack for earthworms. The same is true for the black-tailed godwit, the short-billed dowitcher, and the killdeer, just to name a few.
Long before the invention of the fish sonar, coastal fishermen relied on birds to determine where the schools of fishes are so they can drop their net and haul in a hefty bounty. Birds are known to skim the water’s surface, steal fish from nets, or even spear the fish with their beaks. Most have developed an innate talent for plunge diving and surface diving to hunt for fish. The point is that the shape of their beaks ultimately determined whether they are specially adapted for hunting creatures of the deep or not. The African fish-eagle, American dipper, anhinga, Atlantic puffin, bald eagle, common tern, double-crested cormorant, the osprey, and the gulls are some of the species of bird that have developed their skill for hunting fish.
Frogs and other amphibians, it would seem, are quite delectable to the African pygmy kingfisher, black-crowned night heron, blacksmith lapwing, and the common greenshank. Other birds are known to have a natural tendency to devour frogs and other amphibians.
Have you seen birds preying on reptiles? While we’re not talking about crocs and gators here, there are birds that love smaller reptiles. They include the black vulture, crested caracara, ferruginous pygmy-owl, great blue heron, and the greater roadrunner, just to name a few.
- Other birds
There are birds that love nothing else than to feed on other birds, typically those lower in the food chain. Examples of these are the falcons, hawks, African finfoot, American kestrel, and the cattle egret, among others.
Some bird species like the barn owl prefer live, kicking mammals as their favorite dinner. Aside from owls, other mammal-eating birds include the buzzard, the eastern screech-owl, the northern harrier, and the red-billed hornbill.
These birds love feeding on carcasses. Examples are the American crow, black vulture, common crow, raven, and golden eagle.
Did you know that eggs are an excellent source of nutrition for our avian friends? It doesn’t really matter what kind of egg it is, but many birds sure love feeding on eggs. Examples of these birds are the American dipper, the Boat-tailed grackle, the Hood mockingbird, the laughing gull, and the Laysan finch, to name a few.
The following are what birds will normally feed in the wild. But of course, you cannot expect to put the carcass into your bird feeder. The only feed types that you can place in these gadgets are seeds, also called bird seeds. As such, we’ve decided to come up with a separate list of which seeds will attract which birds.
- Sunflower seeds
You can say that sunflower seeds are the best all-around feed for almost any type of bird. Unfortunately, squirrels love sunflower seeds, too. As such, your choice of bird feeder should help keep these creatures from gaining access to the feed.
- Safflower seeds
This is a favorite of cardinals as well as doves, chickadees, native sparrows, and grosbeaks. They’re quite tough to crack and most house sparrows, squirrels, and European starlings don’t like it.
- Thistle or Nyjer
These are the favorite of small finches.
- White proso millet
Quails, doves, cardinals, American sparrows, towhees, and juncos. These are the favorite of house sparrows and cowbirds, too. If you do decide to use millet, make sure to use low tray feeders.
- Corn, shelled or cracked
Grouse, quails, cardinals, crows, jays, doves, pheasants, turkeys, ducks, cranes, ravens, and grosbeaks. Sadly, they’re a favorite by bears, deer, raccoons, house sparrows, and cowbirds, too. What’s more, corn is most likely contaminated with aflatoxin. Avoid dyed corn or buttered popcorn or any type of corn that is intended for farming.
Crows, titmice, chickadees, jays, and woodpeckers. These are favorites of bears, squirrels, and raccoons, too. They are quite prone to harboring aflatoxins. As such, peanuts should be kept dry and be used pretty quickly.
- Sorghum or milo
Steller’s jays, Gambel’s quails, curved-bill thrashers, cowbirds, and other ground-feeding species. These can be placed in low tray feeders.
- Canary seeds and rapeseed
Quails, finches, juncos, doves, house sparrows, and cowbirds. Most folks don’t like to invite the last two bird species so these seeds are not often used.
Whether it is a simple platform feeder or a more sophisticated tube feeding system, the important thing is for you to truly understand the need for such systems. The sense of being able to provide good quality food for some of Mother Nature’s creatures should be the primary motivation for picking and buying the right one.
Our Top Pick
For us, the best bird feeders are ones that meet a wide range of different needs. As such, one of the best bird feeders on the market right now has to be this hardy design by Brone. Thanks to a clever shut-off mechanism, it’s easy to selectively feed your garden visitors. Heavier animals, such as squirrels, will set off a mechanism that closes the feeding spout, deterring them from thievery. Because it’s totally chew-proof, opportunistic squirrels won’t be able to force their way in, either.
The weatherproof design is constructed from durable RoxResin, helping it stand up to whatever conditions are thrown at it year-round. Fitted with a ‘cardinal ring’, the feeder also helps attract Northern Cardinals to the area. With six feeding ports to choose from, garden birds will be spoiled for choice. This handy feature also allows many animals to feed at once.
The answer to this depends on what type of bird feeder you have and what kind of birds you’re trying to attract. For example, a wild bird feeder would be better placed somewhere farther away from the home, so that the wild bird feels more comfortable in reaching and eating the bird seed itself.
Meanwhile, a tube feeder can usually be placed anywhere, where there is enough hanging space for the tube feeder to sit freely. Just be sure there’s plenty of space surrounding the feeder too, so that the drainage holes can work effectively. Not only this, but it needs to be fairly visible in order to help you feed wild birds without attracting squirrels.
Ground feeders, on the other hand, come with an additional risk of having prey not only seek out food from the feeding ports – but also to get to the birds themselves. As such, the best bird feeders’ placements for these feathery friends are somewhere that can avoid any feline foes or otherwise.
Again, this depends on the make, type, and design of the bird feeder itself. An oriole feeder, for example, is likely to be much more open and can be used to hold fruit and vegetables. As such, it may need a clean between each use – or when the food itself is beginning to rot. In this case, the platform feeder or oriole feeders will need to be thoroughly washed between different fruits or to remove mold.
Be mindful that, the longer you wait between cleaning your feeders (of any type), the harder it will be to remove stubborn dirt, debris and build-up. As with all things that are in constant contact with food, bacteria can build up quickly and be difficult to remove, and this in turn will diminish your ability to attract birds to your feeder.
As such, the best regular time to clean your bird feeder is at least once a week. Just be aware that you should use a cleaner that is friendly to animals, as the last thing you’ll want or need is to harm the birds.
Ultimately, this comes down to personal preference and what works best for your needs. For example, a mesh feeder can work well for particular seed types, or if you prefer to use suet cakes for your birds – and it is much harder to find these in plastics. Metal options are also more likely to have perches for birds who prefer to perch. However, they’re also much more likely to rust, dent, or degrade over time, while plastics will last.
Plastic options come with a higher risk of shattering if they are dropped or banged. However, they’re also more likely to be squirrel-proof as they’re harder to access by seed thieves! They also come with the benefit of being easy to clean and, often, simpler to assemble/disassemble.
Often, it is not the bird feeders themselves that attract rats – but rather the spilling of bird seed over the sides and onto the floor surrounding the bird feeders. As such, the best way to avoid attracting rats is to ensure your hanging feeder (or other types) is completely sealed. Also, be sure that you have chosen the best bird feeders, which don’t release seeds while being used by feeding birds.