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 starts 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 the 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 “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 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:
- Use 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.
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 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.
UPDATE: I recently purchased a new Kettle Moraine Squirrel Proof 3 Arm Bird Feeder Pole Set because my shepherds 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.
After using Vaseline for a few years now, the baffle on the pole seems to be the answer and also keeping the pole about 10 feet from any tree or roof.
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.
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.
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 is 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.
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 are 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 doesn’t like them. I usually make my own suet and you can find my recipe here.
The only hummingbird feeder that works well for me and I have had for years is the HummZinger feeder. The perch is great and its 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.
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.
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Let the skies be filled with birds of every kind – Genesis 1:20b
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I’m just a country girl loving my geeky life with my wonderful husband, always taking pictures, getting my hands dirty in the garden, being crafty, exploring with travels and enjoying all this on a budget. But above all, living my faith as a child of God!