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Best Bird Feeders

Updated July 2018
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
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We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

  • 26 Models Considered
  • 68 Hours Researched
  • 1 Experts Interviewed
  • 133 Consumers Consulted
  • Zero products received from manufacturers.

    We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

    Why trust BestReviews?
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.

    Shopping guide for best bird feeders

    Last Updated July 2018

    If you love watching birds in your yard, the best thing you can do to encourage even more winged visitors is to place a bird feeder within their reach.

    A high-quality, well-stocked bird feeder can attract all kinds of birds, from finches to doves to cardinals.

    But how do you choose the best bird feeder with so many great options on the market? If you need some assistance, you're in the right place.

    Read on for our full guide to bird feeders, or check out our favorites and why they made it to the top.

    For your convenience and the health of your garden birds, choose a bird feeder that is easy to fill, empty, and clean.

    Why buy a bird feeder?

    Why should you buy a bird feeder? What are the benefits to your local birds and yourself?

    • A bird feeder provides much-needed sustenance for birds. When food is scarce, it can mean the difference between life and death for them.

    • Human developments have destroyed a lot of the natural habitat of native birds. By sharing a bird feeder with the local bird population, you're helping to give back a bit of what they've lost.

    • Birds not only eat the food you put out for them, they also eat the insects, slugs, and snails from your yard. This is good news for gardeners struggling with pests.

    • Placing a bird feeder will encourage larger numbers of birds to frequent your yard – and you get the pleasure that comes from watching them.

    DID YOU KNOW?

    Birds play an important part in your garden's ecosystem. Some birds (such as Eastern bluebirds) make excellent pest-controllers, whereas other birds (such as hummingbirds) help to pollinate your flowers.

    Types of bird feeders

    Hanging bird feeders

    Hanging bird feeders are generally tube-shaped and designed to hang from branches or stands. They have holes and perches at the bottom where birds can sit and eat their seed.

    Pros:

    • Hanging bird feeders tend to be fairly inexpensive and are readily available.

    • You can find hanging bird feeders designed to hold larger seeds and seed mixes as well as models designed to hold tiny nyjer seeds.

    • Hanging bird feeders generally sustain very little waste buildup. They require occasional cleaning only.
       

    Cons:

    • Hanging bird feeders aren't suitable for feeding larger birds.

    • Cheap hanging bird feeders generally aren't very durable.
       

    Price: Hanging bird feeders cost roughly $10 to $30.

    EXPERT TIP

    Hanging bird feeders can attract a wide range of smaller birds, but the perches are too small for larger species.


    Hopper bird feeders

    Hopper bird feeders usually look like little houses. They typically have a roof, a large reservoir for the seed in the middle, and a platform and tray from which the birds eat. They can be mounted on a pole or suspended in the air.

    Pros:

    • Hopper bird feeders are suitable for both large and small birds, and certain species (like cardinals) find them more attractive than hanging feeders.

    • Due to their large size, you generally don't have to refill hopper feeders very often.

    • Hopper feeders have roofs to help prevent the seed inside from getting wet.
       

    Cons:

    • Hopper bird feeders can be tricky to keep clean – and it's essential that you do clean them to prevent the spread of disease.

    • If you're trying to avoid feeding larger birds, a hopper feeder isn’t your best option.
       

    Price: Hopper bird feeders tend to cost between $20 and $80, depending on size and construction quality.

    If you notice lots of seed spillage from your feeder, you can buy an accessory that sits beneath the feeder to catch the spilled seed.

    Window bird feeders

    Window bird feeders are clear plastic boxes that fit to a window using suction cups. These feeders allow you to see your feathered friends up close.

    Pros:

    • Window feeders are great for people who may not be able to get outside to birdwatch, such as the elderly or infirm.

    • You can use window feeders to feed birds even if you don't have a yard.

    • Window feeders give you an excellent up-close view of birds.
       

    Cons:

    • Shy species of birds are unlikely to come to a window feeder.

    • Window feeders are small and tend to get quite dirty, so they require daily filling and cleaning.
       

    Price: Window bird feeders usually cost between $10 and $30.

    DID YOU KNOW?

    If hummingbirds live in your area, you can buy a hummingbird feeder and fill it with sugar water.

    Platform bird feeders

    Platform bird feeders are essentially lipped trays that are either suspended, mounted on a trunk or fence post, or situated on a stand. They may or may not have a roof to keep the seed dry.

    Pros:

    • The open design of a platform feeder allows you to feed the birds a variety of foods, including nuts, fruit, and seeds of any size.

    • Larger birds are more likely to use platform feeders, as are as those species that don't feel comfortable hanging off a perch to eat.

    • It's very easy to feed birds on a platform feeder. You simply pour the seed on the platform; there are no lids or hatches to open.
       

    Cons:

    • It's hard to prevent squirrels from using platform feeders. Of course, this only matters if you don’t want to feed the squirrels.

    • Platform feeders require regular cleaning.
       

    Price: Platform bird feeders range in price from $15 to $70. Roofed models tend to cost the most.

    EXPERT TIP

    Position your bird feeder less than three feet or more than 30 feet from a window to decrease the chance of window collisions – a common cause of injury and death in birds.


    Which foods attract which birds?

    If you want to attract particular birds to your feeder, you'll need to know which foods attract them. Here's a list of some of the most common bird seeds and the some of birds that enjoy them.

    • Peanuts attract nuthatches, pine warblers, brown creepers, wrens, jays, chickadees, woodpeckers, northern mockingbirds, and kinglets.

    • Nyjer seeds attract American goldfinches, Lesser goldfinches, house finches, and common redpolls.

    • Cracked corn attracts doves, jays, crows, sparrows, junco, pheasants, and quail.

    • Black oil sunflower seeds attract cardinals, nuthatches, various finches, grackles, jays, grosbeaks, titmice, and red-bellied woodpeckers.

    • Safflower seeds attract sparrows, cardinals, grosbeaks, and doves.

    We recommend feeding a seed mix to attract a range of local birds. You can buy a ready-made mix or create your own.

    Bird feeder materials

    Wooden bird feeders have an attractive, rustic appearance that some people love, but if you opt to buy a wooden feeder, make sure it is fully sealed and treated. If the feeder is not watertight, it will likely sustain damage out in the elements.

    Plastic bird feeders are inexpensive and lightweight, but they aren't the most durable choice. Squirrels will often nibble at feeders with plastic fittings to gain better access to the food inside.

    Metal bird feeders are durable and easy to clean, but these feeders should either be coated or made from a rust-free metal.

    DID YOU KNOW?

    You might choose to buy a number of different bird feeders to attract a variety of different birds.

    Tips

    • Brightly colored feeders attract many birds, as the color mimics the hues of various food sources (such as fruits and berries). Some birds, however, are more attracted to dull feeders, as they provide better camouflage.

    • If you own cats or they commonly roam your yard, avoid placing bird feeders on the ground or too close to bushes or other cover under which a cat could hide.

    • Regularly clean and sterilize your bird feeders. Not only can bacteria build up from old food, but birds can pass diseases to one another. A clean feeder helps prevent this.

    • Keep your bird seed somewhere cool and dry. Store it in a metal container if you’re concerned that squirrels, mice, or rats could get into it.

    • Some bird feeders come fully assembled, whereas others may require a small amount of assembly. If you don't want the hassle of assembly, double-check that you've chosen a fully assembled model before making your purchase.

    If you want to make a bird-friendly garden, try to use natural, organic fertilizers – and avoid pesticides. Pesticides and certain fertilizers can be toxic to birds.

    FAQ

    Q. What can I do to stop squirrels from dining at my bird feeder?

    A. Some people are happy to feed any critters in their yards, whereas others would prefer to stick to feeding birds. Love them or loathe them, squirrels are likely to raid your bird feeder unless you put measures in place to prevent them. Some bird feeders come with "squirrel baffles" – cages or covers designed to let small birds through and keep squirrels out. But these aren't ideal if you want to feed larger birds, too.

    We recommend putting cheaper food – such as peanuts and corn — down on the ground to feed your resident squirrel, leaving the bird feeders (and more costly seed) free for your feathered friends. The benefit of taking this route is that squirrels are highly territorial and will protect their food sources. If you feed one squirrel in your garden, he's likely to keep others at bay.

    Q. How can I attract more wild birds to my yard?

    A. Putting bird feeders in your yard is one thing; attracting a wide range of birds is another. If there's a particular species of bird you want to attract, fill your feeders with a type of food that they're known to like. But if you want to beckon a wider range of bird species to your yard, you can do a number of things.

    • Planting your garden with native shrubs and flowers will encourage local bird life, as will providing densely planted areas in your yard for cover.

    • Placing a bird bath in your yard can help, as birds are attracted to water for bathing and drinking.

    • Position your bird feeders carefully. Most birds prefer to feed closer to trees and areas of cover rather than right next to your house.
       

    Q. How can I help birds over the winter?

    A. Birds are most vulnerable during the winter when they have fewer natural food sources and their usual drinking areas may be frozen over. You can help your local birds by continuing to feed them daily throughout the winter (even if you're not spending much time in your yard watching them). High-fat, nutrient-dense foods such as suet balls and peanuts are ideal. Providing a water source is also very helpful; a bird bath is preferable, but even a dish of water on the ground can be helpful. Just make sure the water does not freeze over in the winter.

    The team that worked on this review
    • Devangana
      Devangana
      Web Producer
    • Eliza
      Eliza
      Production Manager
    • Jennifer
      Jennifer
      Writer
    • Katie
      Katie
      Editorial Director
    • Lauren
      Lauren
      Writer
    • Melissa
      Melissa
      Senior Editor