Feeding the birds can quickly become an expensive and elaborate hobby. Easy birdfeeders are convenient to fill, hold a lot of seed so they don’t need to be refilled as often and will attract the greatest number and variety of backyard birds. Three styles of feeders are easiest for new and experienced birders alike: platform, hopper and tube designs.
Platform feeders are the simplest birdfeeder designs available. They are open trays that can be filled with seeds, nuts, scraps or other foods that all birds can access. Sizes and heights vary, but a good platform feeder will have the following characteristics:
- Removable screen bottom for drainage and easy cleaning
- Slightly elevated edge for containing food and to provide a perch
- Sturdy legs for stability
- Large surface area to accommodate many birds
Platform feeders are available as freestanding units or hanging designs. They can also be made from many unique materials, such as an old tray table, dry bird bath, wooden spool table or a thick upright log.
A hopper birdfeeder has a central reservoir that dispenses food to a feeding tray as birds eat. This is convenient because the feeder can be refilled less frequently without running out of seed but the unused seed is sheltered from wind and moisture. Characteristics of the best hopper feeders include:
- Clear seed reservoir so birds can see the food and refilling levels can be checked
- Multiple dispensing stations for a larger number of birds
- Multiple perches for feeding and waiting birds
- Ability to hold different sizes of seed
- Large reservoir to hold generous amounts of seed
- Easy access to the reservoir for refilling
Hopper feeders are available in a range of sizes and styles, from simple basic feeders to elaborately decorative models. Freestanding feeders can be attached to a pole while most styles can be hung from hooks or branches.
Tube feeders are specialized hopper feeder designs used primarily for finches and small songbirds. Instead of dispensing seed into a tray, the tube has feeding ports that allow birds to feed directly from the reservoir. Characteristics of the best tube feeders include:
- Clear reservoir so seed is visible to birds and refill levels are easy to see
- Multiple perches to accommodate several birds
- Easy cap or base removal for refilling
- Convertible feeding stations for different seed types
- Small covers over feeding stations to keep moisture out of the seed
Tube feeders are most frequently hung from branches or hooks. Simpler models include mesh and sock feeders but they are not as sturdy and will need to be replaced regularly.