A Quick Guide to Feeding Birds & My Favorite Feeders

Looking for ideas on how to be a great backyard bird feeder? Here are my favorite feeders that I have used and some tips.

Looking for ideas on how to be a great backyard bird feeder? Here are my favorite feeders that I have used and some tips

One of my most favorite things to do is when I wake in the morning, I make my cup of tea and sit out on the lanai and watch the birds have their breakfast. It’s so peaceful to watch all the different birds feeding and just start off my day. Since I moved to Florida, I don’t see as many at my feeder as I use to. Not enough trees in my area and palms are not a favorite place for most birds to land on. If you are looking for feeders that work, here are my suggestions for ones I have used over the years.

I have a very small backyard now, but just enough room for a couple of feeders. So, it doesn’t really matter what size yard you have to feed birds.

If you are wanting to start out feeding the birds or if you have been at it for years, here are a few suggestions from what I have learned over the years:

When to Feed:

I have found this to be a different scenario for different parts of the country. But, for the most part, fall through spring is a general idea. I do generally keep my feeders out all year long. But, there are exceptions. I don’t keep my thistle feeder out because goldfinches are only in my area from November until March. It’s helpful to find out what birds are in your area. I use a Florida Field Guide that helps me identify birds in my area. There are guides for every state.

What Kind of Feed:
  • Black-Oil Sunflower is the most popular bird seed and attracts a variety of birds to your feeder.  Blue jays, cardinals, chickadees, finches, nuthatches, and sparrows love it.  If you are new to feeding birds, then Black-oil sunflower seed is a great place to start!
  • Thistle is a small, high-quality, seed that goldfinches love. These birds have a beautiful gold color and will come in droves to your feeder if you offer them thistle.
  • Seed mixes are popular for beginners because they attract many different types of birds. They can be very messy because the birds will leave the hulls behind all over the ground or they will throw out what they don’t want on the ground. They will attract other animals to your feeder like squirrels which no one wants, but also your ground feeders, like doves, will pick up the leftovers too. There is a “no mess” variety of seeds like sunflower hearts.
  • Suet is basically a cake of animal fat and is a healthy source of protein for birds, especially in the winter months.  Birds really need the fat in the harsh winter time to keep their energy up. There are several types of suet for different types of birds. You can also get some suet from your local butcher and place it in a mesh sock to hang for them to eat. And in most cases, your butcher won’t charge you for the suet since they throw it out anyway.
  • Nectar is colored sugar water for hummingbirds to enjoy. There are a few select other birds who love to drink nectar also. You can purchase the powder or make your own out of 4 parts water and 1 part sugar.
Here are a few mistakes not to do:
  • Not using more than one kind of birdseed to attract different types of birds
  • Don’t let your feeders go empty or you may lose the birds you have attracted to other feeders
  • Never feed your birds bread because of all the processing
  • Keep away from bargain-basement seed which is mainly filler and most birds don’t enjoy
  • Keep your feeders clean to keep the seed healthy and feeding holes open
  • Store seeds in a container where there is a tight lid to keep mice and rats from finding it
What Kind of Feeders:

There are several feeders for different types of birds and the ones I will be listing below are the ones that I have used and are still using.

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The feeder I keep out all year is the More Birds Squirrel Proof feeder. It holds a lot of feed and the birds don’t seem to mind that there are only 2 perches to eat from. But, since moving to Florida, I don’t have the birds like I use to. If you have a lot of birds, there is a 4 – 6 perch version.

Does it keep the squirrels away? So far, it has. They will crawl up the bird feeder hook and try to grab the feed from the hole but the pressure from his paw will cause the hole to close up. I haven’t seen a squirrel around that feeder for a while now. I guess they gave up.

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UPDATE: I recently purchased a new Kettle Moraine Squirrel Proof 3 Arm Bird Feeder Pole Set because my shepherd’s hook just wasn’t keeping the squirrels off. I did a lot of research and finally decided on this brand. The baffle really works and the squirrels can’t figure out how to get up the pole now. You can also purchase this pole HERE.

After using Vaseline for a few years on the pole, the baffle on the new Kettle Moraine pole seems to be the answer and also keeping the pole about 10 feet from any tree or roof.

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I also have a squirrel guard above my feeder. When a squirrel tries to come from the top, they will slide off. It also helps with directing rain away too.

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I used this squirrel-proof feeder for years until it just wore out. It’s all-metal and lasted for almost 10 years! This feeder can be hung from a tree or hook or put on a pole. It really does keep the squirrels away.

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A tube feeder is perfect for the thistle seed to feed the Goldfinches. I had purchased a plastic version, to save money, and it fell apart in one season. So now I own a tube feeder with a metal cap and base, like the picture above, and it has lasted much longer. I hang this feeder in the crepe myrtle where there are leftover flower seeds and have birds on it all day long. If you want a lot of birds to watch, this is the feeder to get.

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A simple cage suet feeder is a perfect solution for your suet cakes. Perfect for when the temps are low and you will attract some beautiful birds. This is the only time I see woodpeckers. There is some no-melt suet for warmer weather, but I have found that the birds don’t seem to like those as well. But, it could be the birds in my area that don’t like them. I usually make my own suet and you can find my recipe here.

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The only hummingbird feeder that works well for me and I have had for years is the HummZinger feeder. The perch is great and it’s really easy to clean and has held up very, very well in the hot Florida summers. I make my own nectar, as stated above because it is cheaper and I can make a batch to keep in the fridge. I keep this feeder close to a tree or large bush because hummers love to perch in them. You can also plant certain flowers that they love to grab nectar from.

The picture above is of the only hummer that visits my feeders the past few years. It may not be the same one, but my neighbors don’t have food for hummers, I just don’t see them as I did in Georgia.

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This multi-feeder pole is on my Wish List. I love that it has all the different hooks, a place for water, and an open shelf for birds to have an open place to land to eat. That stand is certainly bird heaven.

Don’t Forget to Pin Me
Looking for ideas on how to be a great backyard bird feeder? Here are my favorite feeders that I have used and some tips

Let the skies be filled with birds of every kind – Genesis 1:20b

Related Posts:
Raising Monarch butterflies at home are easy and a great learning tool for the kids. And it's so much fun too!
Learn how to attract bees, hummingbirds and butterflies to your landscaping with nectar rich plants from Monrovia.
Make your own suet recipe and watch the birds flock to your feeders. Its easier than you think and also learn about No Melt Suet

Enjoy,

Tammy

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22 Comments

  1. My daughter loves to feed our outdoor birds friends. We have a few feeders outside now but none are that great. I am going to have to look into your suggestions and maybe buy a new one.

  2. We were just looking at bird feeders this weekend! We got overwhelmed with all of the options and ended up going home empty handed. This is a very helpful post in helping us choose which one to buy!

  3. I like your list of bird feeders! I would really rather try to make my own! If you ever have time to write a post o n DIY bird feeders, i’d be first to read it!

  4. I greatly enjoyed this read about your favorite bird feeders. Here in my area of California we have a lot of trees and so many gorgeous birds. We also have a lot of squirrels, so the squirrel-proof feeders you mentioned will be a great fit for my yard. It such a special site to enjoy a leisurely morning drink or meal and take a peek outside and view little birds appreciating the delicious meal you’ve left for them.

  5. i live in a condo and we are not allowed to have this. however my father in law is a big fan and he has it at every corner! will surely show this to him.

  6. Wow, such a detailed and helpful post. I used to feed birds years ago but then apartments happened >.< I have been thinking to have a bird feeder now that i live in a house.

  7. I would love to try a few of these bird feeders. I love to sit in the yard and watch all the beautiful birds that come to visit.

  8. i love these feeders! we got our first bird feeder earlier this year and have enjoyed seeing the birds, especially in the winter time when there’s not much else going on outside haha

  9. Guiltt of feeding the birds with some breads 🙁 I love to see different birds in our garden but I really don’t kniw anything about them or bird feeders, so this post is very interesting

  10. Look at those birds you have attracted. I can sense a feeling of calmness as you gaze at them in the morning.

  11. We have one small feeder in the front of our house and my daughter LOVES to watch the birds! I want to get a few more to place around the yard!

  12. I love watching birds in the bird feeder! Thanks so much for your recommendations…. I’ll definitely be picking one of these out!

  13. There are a lot of ways to feed a bird. You might be overwhelmed when buying a bird feeder especially when you are just a new bird owner. A very relevant post can probably help you decide what kind of bird feeder is best suited for your bird, house, and your budget.

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