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Bird Feeders

There are several basic types of bird feeders. Which one(s) you select depend(s) on the types of birds that you wish to attract as well as issues with maintenance.

  • Tray Feeders. Mounted on a post or hung on a wire, these are the simplest and cheapest. You just lay seeds on the tray. However, exposure to the elements such as rain or snow will soak the seeds, which then rot. Another problem: if squirrels get on your feeder, they can make short work of the seeds.
  • "House" Feeders. A narrow box, usually resembling a miniature house, stores the seeds. There are slits along the bottoms of the 2 longer sides. The birds take seeds from these slits. The box either sits in the middle of a tray, or has perches on either side. It can be made of wood, plastic, metal or a combination thereof, and can be hung or mounted. They are better than trays both because they protect the main store of seeds from the elements and because it is harder for squirrels to eat the seed. If buying this type, look for ones that close off access to the seeds if an animal (like a squirrel) that weighs significantly more than a group of birds stands on the platform or perch.
  • Tube Feeders. Mounted on a post or hung, tube feeders are made of either metal or clear plastic with a tube that is filled from the top and dispenses seeds to the birds through several holes. Each hole has a short (about 1" long) metal perch in front of it for a single bird. This design protects seeds from the elements. Although it is not completely squirrel-proof, it does make them work for their meal if they get on the feeder. The small perches are ideal for small birds (finches, warblers, chickadees, etc.) and shut out large ones like blackbirds, jays, crows and pigeons.
  • Thistle Feeders. Thistle, also known as niger or nyger seed, is a favorite food for many smaller finch species. These feeders are mesh bags that are hung. Smaller finches hang on them, sometimes upside-down, and pull seeds through the mesh.
  • Suet Feeders. These rectangular wire cages, often vinyl-coated, hold a preprocessed suet cake. Suet (usually beef fat) is a high-energy food that attracts many species of birds, especially woodpeckers, in cold weather. They are hung.
  • Hummingbird Feeders. A major composition of hummingbirds' diet is flower nectar, which is essentially sugar water. These feeders are reservoirs for sugar water with one or more ports from which the birds can sip. Some models also can accommodate

    larger birds with thin bills that also enjoy fruit and nectar, such as orioles. You need to replace the sugar water every few days, or it will ferment and become toxic to the birds. Also, if you live in the north, you must remove these feeders as fall approaches so as not to encourage hummingbirds to delay their migrations south too long..

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