Bird feeders are a win-win investment—the birds love them, and we love colorful, happily chirping birds. According to studies, backyard feeders actually help supply local birds with a reliable, consistent (or even supplemental) food source, especially in cold months, when sustenance is more scarce; this means we have the opportunity (and duty!) to help maintain a nourishing environment for all types of small animals. Plus, they look cool and make outdoor lounging more interesting. So, we did the research and found the best bird feeders for your backyard.
Why buy a bird feeder?
Bird feeders are a fun, safe way to invite nature into your backyard (or onto your windowsill), providing you and your guests free, wholesome entertainment. Depending on where you live, you can attract so many different bird species, and there are a ton of websites that’ll help you pick the perfect food blend for the local birds. Plus, you’re doing the environment a huge solid by ensuring a fresh food source yearlong, especially in colder seasons, when birds are hungry and searching for food.
What should you consider when choosing a feeder?
- Design: There are tons of designs to choose from, and the size and style that’s right for us may not be right for the birds. Most feeders are either platforms, house-shaped, window boxes, or tube feeders, and different birds require different feeding heights (for example, quails and doves are ground feeders). It’s important to research the types of birds in your area to find out whether they’re ground feeders or enjoy eating in trees and shrubs. Finding this out will also help keep unwanted animals out of your yard.
- Size: Once you decide where you want to hang or set your bird feeder, it’s time to think about size (in terms of capacity and height). Larger feeders hold more food, requiring fewer refills and supporting more birds at a time. But, they take more time and effort to clean. Small feeders offer a cozy, safe space but limit the number of birds that can fit around it. As far as hanging/posting heights, this again depends on which types of birds are flying in—while finches and chickadees are more drawn to higher spots, cardinals and sparrows usually head for the ground.
- Food: If you’re not sure what your neighborhood birds look for, especially with so many blends to choose from, purchasing a seed-and-nut mix is a safe bet for your first go-around (unless you’ve got hummingbirds since they’ll want nectar). But different birds enjoy different things, so we recommend looking up diets while you research local birds. They’ll appreciate it!
How much cleaning do bird feeders require?
Like any animal, whether a pet or wild and free, birds need fresh food and a clean space to eat and perch. No matter what size or design you choose, wipe down the outside of your feeder weekly to get rid of seed shells, dirt, and waste; this will encourage your backyard birds to swoop in and enjoy a sanitary feeding session. Every couple of weeks, take down your feeder, clean it with soap and water, and change out your birdseed (even in a larger feeder), replacing it with fresh, untouched food.
Twinkle Star Hanging Hexagon Wild Bird Feeder
This large, high-quality plastic feeder holds more food and wildlife.
Pros: A sturdy, beautiful hanging option for a great price. This gorgeous, plastic bird feeder comes fully assembled and ready to hang, its oversized roof providing shade from rain and sun. It holds more than 2 pounds of seed, nuts, dried fruit, cracked corn, and whatever other smaller morsels your local birds love. Its twist-and-lock top keeps food fresh and in place; no worries about breaking it open. The feeder also comes with a pole-mount option for ground-feeding birds.
Cons: The Twinkle Star bird feeder is a tad small, making it more suitable for more petite birds, like finches and wrens, depending on where you live.
Bottom Line: As long as you’re content attracting smaller birds, this sturdy feeder will provide plenty of food and perch space for a 360-degree birdwatching experience.
Pros: Looking for a feeder that won’t get overrun by squirrels? It’s a hard feat, but we found a helpful solution in this adorable, rustic-leaf Perky-Pet bird feeder. Sturdy and constructed from metal, this feeder features an innovative weight-activated cage that will close to prevent squirrels (and other small animals) from breaking and entering. It’s also easy to open, fill, and close and holds up to 2 pounds of feed, which is excellent for a vertical tube feeder.
Cons: If squirrels run rampant in your yard, this nifty feeder may get damaged over time if small animals are constantly messing with it. Hang it somewhere difficult for squirrels to access, and it should be just fine.
Bottom Line: Considering squirrels are one of the biggest worries with bird feeders, this simple, but effective design allows you to provide for birds without feeding the entire wildlife community. Simply fill it, hang it, and enjoy the show.
Pros: This charming mini hanging feeder is the perfect addition to smaller outdoor spaces. Another fun option from Perky-Pet, this feeder includes a “Sure-Lock” cap to help keep wildlife out and offers multiple feed and perch options on its 360-degree frame. This feeder also features a rust-prevention coating to help maintain its appearance and integrity. It may be small, but it holds as much seed as most large feeders, up to 2 pounds.
Cons: The four plastic pieces inside the feeder’s roof are fragile, so handle it gently when filling and cleaning.
Bottom Line: Perky-Pet is a best-selling pet brand, and its birdhouses are high-quality and safe, making this simple, hanging feeder a great option, especially for smaller spaces. Remember to handle it with care to ensure it will feed your birds long-term!
Muse Garden Blown Glass Hummingbird Feeder
A unique, colorful way to provide food and rest for hummingbirds.
Pros: Who doesn’t love hummingbirds? They’re colorful, cheerful, and here one minute, gone the next. Attract more of these little, fast-flying guys with a beautifully colored feeder that holds up to 25 ounces of nectar. This model also features an ant moat, which helps keep ants away from the sweet nectar, loved so much by hummingbirds—one less thing to worry about. Each model is handmade, using recycled materials, making your bird feeder unique and more environmentally friendly.
Cons: Feel the inside of each drinking tube before hanging your feeder—if it feels sharp or uncomfortable, place small pieces of duct tape on it or rubberize with a nontoxic glue to help hummingbirds slurp comfortably.
Bottom Line: This is a steal for the price, especially since it’s handmade and handblown. Hummingbirds are attracted to sweet smells and bright colors (hence their love for flower nectar), making this Muse Garden hanging feeder a promising investment.
Nature Anywhere Window Bird House Feeder
Stay cozy inside and keep nature close with this fun window box.
Pros: Talk about front-row seats! This charming acrylic house suctions to your window and provides a wide opening for birds to fly in and out while you or your cats sit and watch from the comfort of home. Roaming birds will also thank you for the secure shelter from the rain; they can eat and perch inside. And, as long as you mount your plastic house 10 feet away from window ledges, gables, and branches, squirrels can’t bother bird visitors.
Cons: It may take some time for birds to get used to the idea of feeding on your window, simply because it’s not protected by trees or other natural barriers that make birds feel safe. Give it some time, and if they don’t show up, place some bird-friendly plants around your window to provide more privacy.
Bottom Line: Window feeders are a unique way to enjoy birdlife from inside, and they’ll appreciate the comfort and shelter it provides. This model, in particular, is sturdy, extra-large, and can hold two types of feed without mixing them. Plus, it’s a high-quality product at a fair price.
If any of these featured bird feeders is your first, you just might fall in love with birdwatching. Hang or place a quality feeder, and enjoy watching them from your back porch or window, knowing you’re also providing reliable, consistent nourishment for the birds in your area.